Kautz Creek is a good low-elevation hike for those wishing to “get their feet wet” (not literally, though) with a short, easy hike within Mount Rainier National Park. For those hikers looking for a more strenuous hike, this is the first leg of the trail to Indian Henery’s Hunting Grounds, which will be featured in another post.
Above is a clipping from the Longmire area information guide given out by Mount Rainier National Park. A PDF of this guide can be found in the resources section below. On this guide, Kautz Creek is located under Moderate hikes, but this is taking the Indian Henery’s section into account as well.
The hike to Kautz Creek Bridge, which is featured in this article, is quite easy and very flat.
Location: Mount Rainier, Longmire area
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Gain: 200 ft.
Kautz Creek itself is named for the first known person to attempt to summit the mountain in 1857, Army Lieutenant August V. Kautz.
Lieutenant Kautz was unsuccessful in this attempt but has been honored with a creek of his namesake.
Kautz Creek itself has experienced a number of flooding events. The outbursts originate from the Kautz Glacier; the latest large outburst was in 2006. This event changed the landscape and took out the old bridge, which has since been rebuilt.
You can learn more about this process by venturing 100 feet to the viewpoint before returning to turn onto the remainder of the trail. Along with this short, accessible trail you’ll find interpretive signs to enjoy. If you’re lucky enough to have clear weather at the time of the visit there is a beautiful view of the mountaintop from the viewpoint as well!
While this viewpoint is not technically part of the trail, it is still well worth a quick visit.
The trail itself wanders through the forest very near the creek. At times it even hugs the edge of the water basin. You’ll also encounter a few good views of Tum Tum Peek along the way, weather permitting of course. This peek is featured in the thumbnail of the video posted above.
The very last section of this trail ventures into the water basin before reaching the Kautz Creek Bridge, which is the turnaround point if you don’t intend to continue on to Indian Henery’s Hunting Grounds.
The bridge itself is a small log spanning the water with one wooden handrail attached. Use caution when crossing!
Are There Toilets? : Yes! There are vault toilets located at the trailhead parking.
How about Picnic Tables? : Yes. There are plenty of picnic tables located at the trailhead parking area as well.
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : You will need a National Park Pass. These may be purchased at the Nisqually entrance, which you will pass through to enter this side of the park.
Are Dogs Allowed? : No. Pets are not permitted on trails within National Parks – including Mount Rainier.
Can We Camp Here? : Cougar Rock is located a few miles north just beyond Longmire. There are also a handful of state campgrounds in the Ashford area; all of which are open seasonally.
When is the Best Time to Visit? : This portion of the park is accessible year-round, with the very rare exception that the Nisqually entrance is closed due to weather.
If you have any questions about this trail don’t hesitate to ask via the contact link located above! If you have an experience you’d like to share about this, or any other, trail please include it in the comments below!
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Trail of Shadows (Nearby Trail)