There are plenty of awe-inspiring bridges, from Iowa's modern art-inspired High Trestle Bridge to San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge. But, there's something special about a natural bridge, that rises on a mountain peak and spans a deep crevasse. Such is the case with Mt. Rainier's natural bridge located along the Northern Loop Trail, a 1,400 foot descent that takes you two miles from Windy Gap down to the Lake James campsite.
The long loop hike takes you through various valleys, forests, through rivers and and past mountain lakes, it's one of the prettiest ways to explore Mount Rainier National Park. First hike up Carbon River Road for about 5 miles then spend the night at Ipsut Campground. The next day go 1.7 miles along Wonderland Trail til you reach a log bridge, take that across the Carbon River and then you'll reach the junction of the Northern Loop Trail.
If you go left you'll pass a bunch of steep switchbanks and make it 3,000 feet high. After you pass by Yellowstone Cliffs campground keep going until you reach Windy Gap. Now, you're 5,600 feet high. Just a few steps away is a side trali that will take you to Natural Bridge.
According to the National Park Service:
From Lake James, the route drops to a crossing of the West Fork of the White River, then climbing 2,500 feet towards Grand Park. Along the climb at 4.5 miles, a side trail leads to Fire Creek Camp. At 6 miles from Lake James is a junction with Grand Park trail. Continue right another 3 miles to a camp in lower Berkeley Park.
From Berkeley Park Camp climb 1 mile through meadows to a junction with the Wonderland Trail. Turn right and cross 6,740-foot Skyscraper Pass. Descend 800 feet to Granite Creek campsite, 4.5 miles from Berkeley Park. From Skyscraper Pass the trail drops a total of 2,100 feet to the snout of the Winthrop Glacier. Cross Winthrop Creek, a tributary of the White River, then climb 1,200 feet to Mystic Camp at 5,700 feet.
To complete the remaining 8 miles of the loop back to Ipsut Creek Campground, the trail climbs 400 feet to a 6,100-foot pass and then descends through Moraine Park. Cross the Carbon River on the log bridge, then follow the Wonderland Trail back to Ipsut Creek Campground, returning to the park entrance via the Carbon River Road.
Mount Rainier National Park is one of America's most enchanting places to visit. It has a little something for everyone. Lush forests, Alpine meadows, glacial lakes, and epic mountain climbing and camping areas.