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Kautz Creek to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

Mount Rainier Area

Location

Mount Rainier Area -- SW - Longmire/Paradise
View map below

Length

11.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 3800 ft.
Highest Point: 5335 ft.

Rating

3.58 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 
 

While the hunting grounds here hold their fair share of human history, the Kautz Creek drainage that hold the trail leading to the hunting grounds has an even more extensive background -- one that's eons old, rather than generations.

Washington's most iconic mountain is also a fairly active volcano, and the landscape here has been affected by the mountain's burps and shrugs for millennia. Floods scraped the canyons clean, fires seared the hillsides, and mud slides rerouted whole river channels.

Through all this activity, Indian Henry's Hunting Grounds have remained tranquil meadows, home to a Native American guide who lived here before Rainier became a national park. Renowned for being able to "live in two worlds" So-To-Lick was dubbed Indian Henry by a mail carrier unable (or unwilling) to learn his real name. So-To-Lick guided the likes of John Muir, George Bayley, James Longmire and Philemon van Trump up sections of the massive mountain, but never summited it himself. Like many Native people, he considered the mountain sacred, never venturing onto the glaciers as it may bring bad luck.

The tranquil meadows So-To-Lick called home are accessible a variety of ways, the trailhead near Longmire, along Tahoma Creek just off the now-closed West Side Road, and the Kautz Creek trailhead, just off the road into the park, before arriving at Longmire.

The roadside trailhead at Kautz Creek offers the most direct route to the Hunting Grounds, as the trail departs from the north side of the road to Longmire, and switchbacks steadily through close forest up the Kautz Creek valley, making the closest thing to a direct route to the hunting grounds.

Along the way, you'll see firsthand the effects of Rainier's volcanic past. The first forest you pass through was killed by a heavy mudflow in 1947. Appreciate these trees before climbing into never-logged forests on the ridge between Tumtum Peak and Mount Ararat.

Keep climbing steadily from this point on. You're approaching the summit ridge of Mount Ararat, which provides fantastic views of Rainier and the peaceful valley below, but does require a detour. Stay on trail, and about 4 miles from the trailhead, cross a section of hillside meadows that offer lower, but still excellent views northeast to Mount Rainier and south to Satulick Mountain. Keep an eye out over your right shoulder for sunlight glinting off the Paradise Visitor Center, and maybe even Mounts Adams and St. Helens in the distance.

Shortly after this point, the trail descends for a mile to a junction with the Wonderland Trail. This is roughly where you enter Indian Henrys Hunting Ground, five and a half miles from the trailhead. Enjoy a snack at the ranger cabin's picnic table or on he porch. Chat with a ranger if the cabin is staffed, to find out more about the area.

 

Kautz Creek to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7364, -121.8555 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area -- SW - Longmire/Paradise

Mount Rainier National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Mount Rainier West No. 269

Green Trails Randle No. 301

Getting There

Drive Highway 7 to the small town of Elbe. At the east edge of town, the road splits; the left-hand branch leads into the national park. Continue through the Nisqually entrance of the park and look for a parking area with facilities on the right-hand side of the road, just after passing a bridge and culvert.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 

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Kautz Creek to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

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