This heritage trail provides muscle-powered users (read: hikers) the opportunity to experience many of the natural, historic and cultural sites that William O. Douglas hiked and wrote about in his book Of Men and Mountains.
From Rimrock Lake, the route traverses northwesterly through the wilderness to the ramparts of Mount Rainier, passing by Russell Ridge, Tumac Mountain, Twin Sisters Lakes, Bumping River, Crag Mountain, Cougar Lakes, and along the PCT to Chinook Pass.
Among the special places that Douglas frequented along this route, one can experience the Selah Gap climb (where Douglas started hiking to overcome childhood disabilities), Kloochman Rock (a harrowing climb that inspired him to write about the “indomitable spirit of the mountains” that one can experience from climbing the ridges and peaks and exploring the forest and high mountain meadows), Indian Creek (where a Yakama Indian taught Douglas how to spear salmon), Cowlitz Pass (where he camped with a sheepherder in 1914 to share news of the outbreak of World War I), and Fish Lake (where Douglas caught cutthroat and heard the screech of a cougar).
This trip can be a two-to-three-day backpack that traverses the entire William O. Douglas Wilderness section of the trail. Begin from the Sand Ridge trailhead on Highway 12, follow the Sand Ridge and Shellrock Lake trails six miles to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), then follow the PCT northwest past Snow Lake, descending gently to the headwaters of the Bumping River at Fish Lake.
From here, climb 1,500 feet past Crag Lake to the junction with the Laughingwater Creek Trail and the national park boundary. Descend the Laughingwater Creek Trail eight miles past Three Lakes to the trailhead on SR 123. Possible campsites are plentiful beyond Shellrock Lake.