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Boundary Trail to Florence Peak

Difficulty: strenuous and unofficial

7.6 miles

Elevation gain: 3950'

Max elevation: 5480'

Camps: none

First hiked by me: 2021

This is an unofficial route. Only come here if your navigation is up to the task, and practice Leave No Trace to avoid damaging fragile terrain.

This is a grouchy, cantankerous trail. Hikers from the Seattle area will know what I mean when I say it partakes of much the same spirit as Mailbox Old Trail:

Hiking this trail was not strictly necessary to achieve my hike-all-maintained-trails-inside-Rainier-National-Park goal, because the maintained part of the trail lies outside the park, and even that is just a best effort by WTA volunteers. Much appreciation for the cleared blowdowns and occasional steps, but the roughness of this unofficial trail really makes me appreciate what a great job the MRNP trail crews do elsewhere!

The Boundary Trail starts from halfway around the Carbon River Rain Forest Nature Trail, right by the Carbon River entrance. Once upon a time this used to follow the park boundary south all the way to Mowich Lake Road, and some maps still show more southerly pieces of the trail, but most of it has fallen into disrepair. The section from Carbon River to Alki Crest, however, is clear and easily followed.

After 1.3 miles and 1250' gain, you'll cross a stream immediately below one waterfall and above another. Don't slip here! Keep on climbing, and at 2.4 miles (2780' gain) you will arrive at Alki Crest. The crest is a disappointing nonevent, as you've climbed so far yet the view is only trees. The Boundary Trail continues south, downhill past the crest before petering out (a route that once connected through to the West Boundary Trail), but instead you should turn left at the high point onto the extremely unofficial and unsignposted Florence Peak trail. This heads southeast along the mostly forested ridge of Alki Crest, past a couple of deceptive surely-this-is-the-summit-nows, to...

... another false summit! Finally, after so much work, views open up. Carbon River to the north, so far below you. Rainier, of course. Mount St. Helens. This is a high enough spike of rock that all directions have interesting things to look at.

The true summit of Florence Peak is a short scramble further, but I opted to call it a day at the no-climbing-required false summit.

Alki means 'by and by' in the Chinook Jargon.

No Park Service letterhead here! An unofficial sign for an unofficial trail

Switchbacking up the Boundary Trail

Unnamed waterfall: the trail goes right across the middle of this photo

Enjoy this brief open section as you approach Alki Crest

'Trail' along the top of Alki Crest

From the false summit of Florence Peak, looking down at the Carbon River (left) and across at the true summit

Mount St. Helens, from the false summit

Rainier, from the false summit, with Tolmie lookout visible near the center