Clearwater Wilderness

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Clearwater Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Map showing the location of Clearwater Wilderness
Map showing the location of Clearwater Wilderness
LocationMount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest,
Pierce County, Washington,
United States
Nearest cityBuckley
Coordinates47°03′28″N 121°49′27″W / 47.05778°N 121.82417°W / 47.05778; -121.82417Coordinates: 47°03′28″N 121°49′27″W / 47.05778°N 121.82417°W / 47.05778; -121.82417
Area14,192 acres (57.44 km²)
Governing bodyUnited States Forest Service

Clearwater Wilderness, a small 14,300-acre (5,800 ha) wilderness area in the North Cascades mountain range, in northern Washington state, of the Northwestern United States.[1] It is located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and southeast of Tacoma in northeastern Pierce County.

It was created by Congress in 1984, under the 1964 Wilderness Act that established the National Wilderness Preservation System. Its southern border is Mount Rainier National Park, affording many notable views of Mount Rainier from the Clearwater Wilderness area.[1]


Bearhead Mountain, the highest peak of the Clearwater Wilderness, is 6,089 feet (1,856 m) in elevation. Below are the headwaters of the north-flowing Clearwater River, and many streams. Eight small lakes, including Summit Lake, are within the wilderness area.

Old-growth forests of Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar are protected, and are reachable by hiking trails. The forest understorey is made up mostly of ferns and mosses.

The rainy season, between October and May, receives 90 percent of the areas annual rainfall. It can be as much as 25 feet (7.6 m). Snow can remain as late as July in high areas.[2]

Cascades wildlife typically includes bears, deer, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, marmots, and a few herds of elk.


  • Summit Lake trail is an easy 2.5-mile-long (4,000 m) hike (5 miles (8.0 km) round trip) up 1,500 feet (460 m) to a blue Summit Lake where to the south there are wonderful views of Mount Rainier.[3]
  • Clearwater Trail is an 6 miles (9.7 km) 2,000-foot (610 m) descent to the peaceful Clearwater River. The trail continues to Lily Creek and climbs to a small lake, Cedar Lake, ringed by forest.[4]
  • Summit Lake and Bearhead Mountain trail is a moderate 9 miles (14 km) hike 2,000 feet (610 m) up to the highest point in the wilderness area, offering wonderful views of Mount Rainier from a meadow filled with wildflowers.[5]
  • Carbon Trail meanders south for 9.4 miles (15.1 km) to join the Summit Lake Trail.

The National Wilderness Preservation System website provides a list of things to consider when planning a trip to any wilderness area.[6]



  1. ^ a b "Clearwater Wilderness". Nature of the Northwest. Archived from the original on 2006-09-30. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
  2. ^ "Clearwater Wilderness". National Wilderness Preservation System. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
  3. ^ "Summit Lake". Hiker Bob Trail Guides. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
  4. ^ "Clearwater River". Hiker Bob Trail Guides. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
  5. ^ "Summit Lake and Bearhead Mountain". Hiker Bob Trail Guides. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
  6. ^ "Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Wilderness". The National Wilderness Preservation System. Retrieved 2006-10-21.

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