Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Carbon Glacier, MRNP

on August 14, 2020

Our original intent was to hike the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood this summer, but we decided to stay closer to home and spent 2 nights at Ipsut campground instead, with a beautiful day hike out to the Carbon Glacier.

To get to Ipsut campground is a 5-mile hike or bike (I chose bike) on a gravel road that is closed to vehicles. It’s luxury backpacking since it used to be a car campground, so there are 2 bathrooms (with toilet paper!!) and bear lockers at all the campsites. It’s along the Carbon River, perfect for an evening read sitting on a log listening to the water rush by.

On our full day there, we hiked just over 9 miles from Ipsut to the Carbon River suspension bridge (bouncy, bouncy) which we crossed and scrambled up some rocks for a beautiful picnic lunch spot. The river was raging and we thank the NPS and rangers who put in log crossings.

Not far from the suspension bridge is the terminus of the Carbon Glacier, the lowest elevation glacier terminus in the lower 48 states. It’s amazing to be able to look into the mouth of a glacier and see the birth of a river right before your eyes. On cue the clouds above parted and we had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier and Willis Wall directly above Carbon Glacier.

On our way back to camp for the second night, we saw a mama bear with 2 cubs, mama was foraging for berries and the cubs were practicing tree climbing. No good photos as the underbrush is very thick here and they were too fast for us to focus on. Later on we saw a solo bear right on the trail, and gave him several minutes to decide which way to head off before we continued on.

Again, so fortunate that I’m able to do things like this so close to home. 🙂


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