backpack: Mount Rainier – Berkeley Park

On this four day backpacking trip at Mount Rainier, we camped at Berkeley Park and did day hikes to Skyscraper Pass and Second Burroughs Mountain.

Trip planning

Permits are required for all backcountry campsites at Mount Rainier. This was the first year the park implemented an advance lottery for permits, and we were lucky to get one for Berkeley Park for three nights.

Day 1 – hike in to campsite

4 miles with 417 ft. gain & 1,200 ft. loss

This was my first time backpacking at Mount Rainier, and my 60th backpacking trip overall since starting in 2015. I chose Berkeley Park for it’s proximity to the Sunrise area and for the many day hike options from our camp area. While I’ve camped and hiked here five times, I was excited to finally be able to spend a few nights in the backcountry.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

National Park entry!

When we arrived, it was heavily overcast and we couldn’t see the mountain except for tiny peeks through the clouds. We started on the Sourdough Ridge Trail, hiked past Frozen Lake and on to the Wonderland Trail until a junction with the Northern Loop Trail. Berkeley Park is located about 1.5 miles (and a lot of descent!) from the junction.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

view from the Sourdough Ridge Trail

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

on the Wonderland Trail

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

looking down into Berkeley Park

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

descending into a beautiful valley!

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

Lodi Creek meanders next to the trail the entire way to camp

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

Hippy on a Stick – aka: Western Pasqueflower in seed head stage

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

this spring emerges from the ground and joins Lodi Creek

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

there are a lot of pikas and marmots in this area

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

Lodi Creek is so beautiful!

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

most of the wildflowers were long gone, but gentian was still hanging on

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

almost to camp

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

I tucked my tent into the trees at the Berkeley Park group camp

Day 2 – hike to Skyscraper Pass

6 miles with 1,200 ft. gain

It was cold and foggy in the morning… the overnight low was 40 degrees and the high for the day was 45 degrees. Due to the lack of views, we decided to hike to Skyscraper Pass and save the top scenic hike for the next day.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

foggy conditions on the peaks above us

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

hiking on the Wonderland Trail towards Skyscraper Pass

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

Lodi Creek high above Berkeley Park

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

looking back towards where we hiked in the previous day

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

almost to Skyscraper Pass on the Wonderland Trail

I didn’t take very many photos at the pass since views were limited. While we were at the pass, I looked for a trail that led to a saddle between Second and Third Burroughs, but there is no trail. This would determine the route we would take the next day. After taking a short break at the pass, we headed back to camp.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

Berkeley Park was definitely a highlight on this trip… it’s so scenic!

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

I can imagine how beautiful this would be during prime wildflower time.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

sunset near camp

Day 3 – hike to Second Burroughs Mountain

6.6 miles with 1,655 ft. gain

After an even colder night with a low of 38 degrees, we woke up to clear skies, perfect for the hike up Burroughs Mountain since it’s the closest we could get to Mount Rainier on this trip.

The Burroughs include three barren peaks: First, Second and Third Burroughs. We headed back to Frozen Lake and the junction for the Burroughs trails. Since this was Saturday, we were far from alone. This hike is very close to the Sunrise area at Rainier and quite crowded with people doing day hikes. Nonetheless, it is a spectacular hike and we enjoyed meeting other hikers on the trail.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

The Burroughs with the top of Mount Rainier making an appearance for the first time on our trip.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

heading up First Burroughs

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

getting closer to the mountain

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

views on the way up, including the green valley we were camped in

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

on First Burroughs, with Second in the distance

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

looking down towards Berkeley Park with peaks all around

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

Mount Rainier and a view of Third Burroughs

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

wow… just wow

Three in our group decided to hike up to Third Burroughs while a friend and I stayed at Second to relax for a couple of hours. We chatted with several day hikers while enjoying the views. A big bonus was getting to see another group of three of our friends with permits for a different camp area about four miles from ours.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

heading back towards our camp

Day 4 – hike out to trailhead

4 miles with 1,200 ft. gain & 417 ft. loss

While it was sad to leave, it was time to head home so we packed up for the hike out. Since the hike in had a lot of downhill, we had to make up for that on the hike out. With much clearer skies than when we hiked in, we were able to see everything that we couldn’t on the hike in.

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

last views of Lodi Creek

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

hiking out

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

on the Sourdough Ridge trail

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

views to the north included Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mount Stuart

Mount Rainier - Berkeley Park backpacking trip

view of Mount Rainier from the Sunrise area

I absolutely loved this trip and plan to visit more of this majestic mountain in the future.