Clearwater Wilderness


Summit Lake, Clearwater Wilderness

Bearhead Mountain (6,089’) is the highest point in this wilderness, towering above Clearwater River headwaters. Old-growth Douglas fir, western red cedar and western hemlock shade the ridges with ferns and mosses forming the understory. Ninety percent of the annual precipitation falls between October and May, and as much as 25 feet of snow often lingers in high elevations until late July. You can expect to see bears, deer, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, marmots and elk.

Summit Lake Trail takes you through the forest 2.5 miles and gradually ascends to the lake. The Clearwater Trail (8.1 miles) descends east to the Clearwater River, then crosses Lily Creek and climbs to a small lake and on to the western Wilderness boundary. From the same trailhead as the Clearwater Trail, the Carbon Trail wanders south in a long bend for 9.4 miles to join the Summit Lake Trail. You may see quite a few other people, especially on weekends.

Congress designated the Clearwater Wilderness in 1984 it now has a total of 14,647 acres managed by Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Clearwater Wilderness borders the Mount Rainier National Park to the south.

Help protect your wilderness by following wilderness regulations and using Leave No Trace principles.

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply within Clearwater Wilderness.
  • Campfires prohibited within Summit Lake Basin, except self contained, carry-in devices such as stoves.
  • Some trails are closed to stock due to steep grades, inadequate design, lack of grazing or other factors.
  • Grazing, hitching, tethering, or hobbling any stock within 200 feet of a lake shore is prohibited.  
Closest Towns: Enumclaw, WA
Passes: A valid Recreation Pass is required at Summit Lake Trailhead.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Check current conditions or call Snoqualmie Ranger District, Enumclaw Office at 360-825-6585.

General Information

General Notes:

Trailheads and trails that access Clearwater Wilderness:


Topo Maps

Old Baldy Mountain, Bearhead Mountain, Clear West Peak. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.

Buy maps online

Go to the National Forest Store.

Go to for online maps and other important Wilderness information.



Show detail SHOW

Horse Riding & Camping

Show detail SHOW
Areas & Activities

Find your favorite spot!

  • Trails & Campgrounds