Kautz Creek to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, Kautz Creek Trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Kautz Creek to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground - 10.8 miles

Kautz Creek Trailhead

The meadows of Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

The meadows of Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

Round-Trip Length: 10.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,435' - 5,362' (5,627' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,927' net elevation gain (+3,565' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Kautz Creek to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground - 10.8 Miles Round-Trip

The Kautz Creek Trail runs 5.4 miles from Longmire-Nisqually Road to the Wonderland Trail and Indian Henry's Hunting Ground in Mount Rainier National Park. The area, named for a Cowlitz Indian who hunted goats here in the late 1800s, spans a series of meadows that see big summer blooms and attractive fall colors.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail follows a level bank along the former path of Kautz Creek before climbing 3012' in just 3.9 miles on rough tread to its highest point in the meadows.

Mirror Lake is located .9 miles from the Wonderland junction in a secluded basin under Pyramid Peak:

The trail begins on a fast, level grade along the former east bank of Kautz Creek. Record rainfall in November 2006 triggered debris flows that redirected the creek (east) further up stream. Debris suffocated the forest along its path, resulting in the mix of dead trees and new colonizers we see today.

The trail drops across the original creek bed (1.0 miles : 2,615') into a markedly healthier old growth forest. It gradually steepens on a sinuous climb with little differentiation to a small footbridge (2.45 miles : 3,890'), past which grades briefly ease among thick huckleberry patches.

It steepens back on a variously rugged and eroded path that opens to flowered covered slopes on the east flank of Mount Ararat (3.95 miles : 5,095'). The trail soon levels into the first meadow and a well-earned reprieve (4.05 miles : 5,210').

It turns sharply up a wooded slope (4.55 miles : 5,525') into a small meadow, then arcs up a steep, south-facing slope with fantastic views down the Kautz Creek drainage to Mount Adams. Tread carefully on this narrow section with drop-offs.

The trail reaches its highest point (4.9 miles : 5,627'), then drops through expansive meadows to the Wonderland Trail junction (5.4 miles : 5,362'). Relax on the Patrol Cabin's porch, explore the meadows or continue .9 miles to Mirror Lake.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N46 44.177 W121 51.347 — 0.0 miles : Kautz Creek Trailhead
  • N46 44.535 W121 51.146 — .5 miles : Level grade on former creek bank
  • N46 44.818 W121 50.892 — 1.0 miles : Cross creek channel
  • N46 45.189 W121 51.090 — 1.5 miles : Steep, shifting trail in forest
  • N46 45.504 W121 51.151 — 2.0 miles : Steep, methodical climb
  • N46 45.784 W121 51.037 — 2.5 miles : Brief reprieve past footbridge
  • N46 46.145 W121 51.263 — 3.0 miles : Steep climb on eroded trail
  • N46 46.385 W121 51.073 — 3.5 miles : Steep push into subalpine
  • N46 46.704 W121 51.063 — 3.95 miles : Trails opens along Mt Ararat
  • N46 46.757 W121 51.086 — 4.05 miles : Level into first meadow
  • N46 47.111 W121 51.026 — 4.55 miles : Short, steep push through trees
  • N46 47.353 W121 50.672 — 5.0 miles : Approach trail high point
  • N46 47.608 W121 50.444 — 5.4 miles : Wonderland Trail split @ Hunting Ground

Worth Noting

  • These rich meadows attract wildlife. Watch for bears, particularly in late summer and early fall.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Wilderness Permits are required year-round for overnight camping in the backcountry. Wilderness Camping Permits are free (*see notes for climbers below). There are no designated backcountry campsites on the Kautz Creek Trail. Devils Dream Campsite is located on the Wonderland Trail, 1.2 miles east of the Kautz Creek junction.

  • Permits and current trail conditions are available at all wilderness information centers, visitor centers and ranger stations (360.569.2211).
  • Camp only in sites designated on your itinerary. Fires are not permitted anywhere in the backcountry.
  • All trail-side camps have primitive toilets, marked sites, poles for hanging food and a nearby water source.
  • Cross-Country Zone Camping: there are no maintained trails, campsites or amenities in cross-country zones. Camp at least 1/4 mile away from any road or established trail, and 100' from water sources. Cross-country camping is not permitted for those hiking the complete Wonderland Trail.
  • Summer Party Size Limit (May 15th - September 30th): 5 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation. Families are an exception to this rule (parents + children).
  • Winter Party Size Limit (October 1 - May 14th): 12 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation.
  • Groups (defined as 6 - 12 people) are permitted in 25 designated sites throughout the park, and when camping on snow in Alpine Zones.
  • Climbing Permits are required year-round for any day or overnight travel on glaciers or above 10,000', including Little Tahoma. The Climbing Permit also serves as the wilderness camping permit for overnight trips. Wilderness Camping Permits are free while a Climbing Permit requires the purchase of an annual Climbing Pass for each member of the party.

Fishing Information

A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Mount Rainier National Park:

  • A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters.
  • Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Always contact the Park before setting out for the latest guidelines.
  • Fishing for Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Coastal Cutthroat and Chinook (King) Salmon is strictly prohibited in Park waters.

Park Lakes:

  • There is no catch limit in Park lakes.

Streams and Rivers:

  • Daily catch: Six pounds of fish plus one additional fish, not to exceed 12 fish
  • Possession: 1 day's limit
  • Minimum size: none
  • The Ohanapecosh River and its tributaries are open to fly fishing only. The use of bait or other lures (except artificial flies) is not permitted.

The following areas are closed to fishing:

  • Klickitat Creek above the White River Entrance water supply intake
  • Ipsut Creek above the Ipsut Creek Campground water supply intake
  • Laughingwater Creek above the Ohanapecosh water supply intake
  • Edith Creek basin above the Paradise water supply intake
  • Frozen Lake
  • Reflection Lakes
  • Shadow Lake
  • Tipsoo Lake

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $25 entrance fee to Mount Rainier National Park (good for 7 days). Annual Passes are $50.
  • Pets and Bikes are not permitted on hiking trails or climbing routes in Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Fires are not permitted in the backcountry in Mount Rainier National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

The Kautz Creek Trailhead is located 3.2 miles from the Nisqually Entrance Station. Park in the large Pinic Area Lot. The trail begins across the street along the Nature Trail (1st interpretive sign, just a few steps along the walk).

The road between Longmire and Paradise is plowed throughout the winter. Click here for current road status.

Contact Information

Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

Longmire Wilderness Information Center

Paradise Visitor Center

Paradise Climbing Information Center (CIC) | Guide House

White River Wilderness Information Center

Carbon River Ranger Station

General Information

Lost and Found

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Yes, this is a very steep trail and the tread is pretty worn out on some of the toughest sections. I left early and didn't see anyone until reaching the meadows where you intercept the Wonderland. The meadows are really nice and worth the effort. I can see why these were used as hunting grounds! The view of Adams was also really good once you clear treeline near Mt Ararat."
Alec M  -  Seattle  -  Date Posted: September 20, 2017


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