Hiking the Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail offers amazing views. Come walk with me along rocky paths, overlooking a dichotomy of beauty from right to left!
Up to this point, I have never actually done anything near Mt. Rainier! And I moved to the PNW in 2007. I have always admired it’s grandness and beauty from afar. And finally, in September 2019, I hiked the Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail on Mt. Rainier with my sister, her husband, her best friend (I’ll call my “other sister”), and our cousin, . Yes, it took family to finally get me there.
The Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail
The starting elevation is 6,387ft at the Sunrise Visitor Center. The whole loop is 9.4mi with an elevation gain of 2,562ft. And rates a difficulty level of moderate. It’s a loop that skirts alongside Mt. Rainier, the closest you could get while not being on it.
Because we started at a “lower” elevation, there were still abundant vegetation, which made the path beautiful. With the tundra-like terrain, we had to watch our footing and stay on the main path. While being wide enough, the path does follow up a mountain. So there was always a breathtaking view of the valley on one side.
We hiked on a nice Saturday morning. But there was a thick cloud that came across the top of Mt. Rainier. We knew our view of it would be hindered. But we’d still get some amazing views regardless. So on we went.
My brother-in-law (BIL) led the pack most, if not all, of the way up. This photo is early on our start up to the First Burrough. As you can see, it’s a nice day. And the path is wide enough and well traversed.
We saw all age groups on this hike. The higher up we got, though, the crowds weren’t so age diverse.
Frozen Lake to the First Burrough
Most groups made it to Frozen Lake, about 1.5mi from the trailhead, and maybe another 0.7mi to the First Burrough. The remainder of the hike was uphill and the trail splits as did the groups. You could continue up to the other burroughs or down into the valley. We continued up. That’s my sister and “other sister”.
Honestly, I don’t remember when we reached the First Burrough. It was probably right where I took that picture of the weathered Burroughs Mountain sign above. Regardless, we kept going.
Up ahead are my BIL and cousin. I remained in the middle of the fast pacers and the laggers. I just didn’t want the group to get too separated. Yes, I like to herd my people.
As you can see, the trail is still fairly wide. But the terrain is now void of greenery. The rocky drop to the right would make anyone suffering from vertigo a little dizzy. Luckily all you’d have to do is lean left and touch the other side to ground yourself. What was also fascinating were the porous rocks surrounding this section of the trial. My kids would have loved this part! Volcanic rocks!
Almost to the Second Burrough
We did catch some amazing views on our way up to the Second Burrough. We each took turns taking pictures on this rocky cliff overlooking Frozen Lake and the valley. As you can see, the clouds were getting grayer and thicker the higher we went.
As we continued on our ascent, the glaciers became visible. From the blanket of the thick cold fog, it looked as if the glaciers were cascading down. If you listened hard enough, you might even hear the echoing trickle of water running down. Were we imagining it? Maybe. But that’s definitely what it sounded like. So I’m sticking to it.
This is the trail and the fog overshadowing the top of the Second Burrough. The higher we went, the colder it got. Obviously. We were nearing 7400ft elevation.
We were again led by the BIL and cousin. I was herding in the middle. And my sister and “other sister” took up the rear. The elevation gain, however little, was still getting to us.
But we finally made it to….
The Second Burrough of Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail
After I’m not sure how many hours, we finally reached the Second Burrough.
The main view lent to us were more glacier and valley views. But we were also met with colder winds and that looming fog.
Now atop the Second Burrough was this interesting rock bench someone made. It was wide enough to seat 2-3 people. And the inner circle was big enough for a crowd of 4. Had we not gotten caught up taking pictures and selfies, the 5 of us would have made it into the circle to have lunch. But we missed our opportunity and had lunch outside the rock bench where some pesky squirrels got real friendly with us. No doubt wanting to snag some of our snacks.
What about the Third Burrough?
After lunch, the question of what to do next came up. Do we continue on? Or do we turn back?
I’m sure if we had more time and energy, we could have made it to the Third Burrough. But it would have been about another mile or so with a 400ft elevation gain. The other determining factors were the cold and the fog. Neither were abating or clearing. They seemed to be getting worse. So we decided to turn tail and head down…
Sunrise Loop Trail
As the name states, this trail was much sunnier. And the scenery was much greener. But the terrain was very rocky.
The slates of rocks along this path were very slippery and loose. They shouldered the path all the way down. It was so unique from anything I’ve ever seen before. All jagged edges on one side. And on the other side, this…
The glacier valley overlooking Shadow Lake. It was so beautiful and serene. I almost forgot to watch my step!
This is how I remember Sunrise Trail. The sharp jagged rock face and a steep drop, intermixed with trees. Someone described the Second Burrough as a Bob Ross painting with “happy trees.” But I’d say this path is more Bob Ross-like to me.
My impression of hiking Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail
I loved it! The amazing views were breathtaking and absolutely unforgettable. From the porous, volcanic rocks, to the jagged slates along Sunrise Trail, the tundra-like terrain was a happy place for my feet. And even with the fog completely eating the peak of Mt. Rainier, it didn’t matter. Because the valley views were such a beautiful contrast to the views at elevation.
I would highly recommend hiking Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail! I would definitely do it all over again. And next time my sights are aimed at the Third Burrough. Of course it would be weather dependent. But I’m there!
If you’ve done this hike, PLEASE let me know in the comments! I’d love to share in your experience! Also, if you have other suggested hikes to do around Mt. Rainier, comment down below. I can’t wait to hear from you!