Carbon River Suspension Bridge

* Mount Rainier Suspension Bridges *

* Tahoma Creek Bridge * Grove of the Patriarchs Bridge * Longmire Bridge *

* Introduction * Wheels Outside the Garden * Wheels in the Garden * Garden Trails *

* Descent from Paradise * Sunrise Descent * Stevens Canyon Road * Carbon River Road *

The trail to the suspension bridge begins at the Ranger Station by the Carbon River park entrance. From there it is a five mile walk or bike ride on the old Carbon River Road, now closed to vehicles due to numerous winter washouts.

It is worth the few minutes to take the Rain Forest Loop Trail by the parking lot and see this unique ecosystem.

Ferns and moss cover the ground and tree branches. It is lush even after a long, dry summer.

The rain forest continues as you ride up toward Ipsut Creek campground.

The road, closed to vehicles, is a smooth, easy grade for five miles,

with several rough detours where it washed out in winter storms.

Huge trees grow in the rain forest along the road. Each winter, several trees come down.

By some of the washouts, it is difficult to tell the road from the riverbed.

Ipsut Creek campground is the end of the road and the start of the trail to the suspension bridge.

With the winter floods, the river often changes course. Here it has invaded a forest, which it will kill over time and then erode a deeper course.

After parking your bike at Ipsut Creek campground, you connect with the Wonderland Trail, which encircles the mountain.

The trail follows the river, at times high above it,

and at other times in the riverbed itself.

About a mile before the bridge, the river separates into smaller channels, and the trail crosses to the far side. Fall is a low water time and a good time to hike here.

Before climbing the opposite bank, the trail traverses an island in the river strewn with debris from prior flooding.

After a three mile hike, the towers of the suspension bridge appear through the trees.

The Carbon River Suspension Bridge is very long and narrow, spanning the entire flood stage riverbed.

The warning sign seems to have a contradiction.

From the center, it is thirty feet down to the rapids, greatly diminished in October before the winter rains begin.

Looking out instead of down, you gaze straight into the snout of the Carbon Glacier, the lowest such ice mass in the contiguous states. It also is the longest (nearly six miles,) the thickest (700 feet,) and the highest in volume (1/5 of a cubic mile,) of any U.S. glacier outside Alaska.