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Knapsack Pass

Difficulty: unmaintained and scrambly

6.9 miles

Elevation gain: 2050'

Max elevation: 6180'

Camps: Mowich Lake, Eagle's Roost

First hiked by me: 2022

This is an off-trail route. Only come here if your navigation is up to the task of finding your way where there are no trails to follow, and practice Leave No Trace to avoid damaging fragile terrain.

This has got to be the most varied hike on Rainier:

This is a hike, not a scramble, but it's on the scramblier end of things that count as hikes. Route-finding is challenging in places. There are no signposts identifying the several climber's trails that turn off toward Fay Peak, First Mother Mountain, Mount Pleasant, etc. The scree, talus, and snowfield sections may have no visible path to follow: I found no footprints ahead of me on the snow. Only come here if your navigation is solid.

Being a loop, of course you could also hike this counterclockwise, but that would be foolish. It's easier to get the steep parts out of the way early while you are fresh, and more soul-uplifting to have Tahoma in front of you for as much of the hike as possible.

Ending at Mowich Lake brings one final delight: what a lovely lake that is to swim in after hiking on a hot day.

Approaching Knapsack Pass, the trail is faint and steep

Looking backward as I near the pass, that's Mowich Lake down below

Arriving at Knapsack Pass is a moment that takes your breath away (if you have any left, that is :-)

The descent from Knapsack Pass: scree, then snowfield

Looking back at the pass I just came down from (from left: East Fay, Knapsack Pass, First Mother, another dip, another peak)

I think I was supposed to be further to the right here, but no matter, this talus field is boulders wherever you go - wait, is that the trail I spy in front of me???

Rainier, reflected in a meltwater pond

View over Mist Park

Panoramic view of upper Spray Park from the Knapsack Pass trail