Hike the Upper Foothills Trail along the Carbon River

Rate this Adventure Foothills Trail

Easy family friendly hike through a mossy forest along the Carbon River. Stop to explore historical Melmont ghost town as well as take in views of Mt. Rainier, waterfalls and wildlife. 

The upper Foothills Trail from the Fairfax Bridge to Manley Moore can be hiked starting from either end as an "out and back" hike or a "point to point" by shuttling with two vehicles.  

Starting from the upper end of the trail you begin by walking under the Kolisch Rd. Bridge, which has the Manley Moore Mural painted on its buttress depicting Bigfoot, Mt. Rainier, salmon, wildlife and the forest.  From there the trail winds through a mossy forest with several side trails leading down to the Carbon River that are suitable for kids to explore and also take a break for lunch. Rumor has it there are a couple great spots to capture some views of Mt. Rainier should you happen to choose a cloudless day. Keep an eye out for elk, deer, and other wildlife as they frequent the gravel bars in this area.

The trail itself follows along an old railroad grade making the route rather easy to hike with little elevation change. However due to landslides and erosion from the ever changing course of the Carbon river there are some hazards to navigate where the grade no longer exists or has been overgrown.

At about 4 miles into the hike you will come to a "Y" in the trail which leads east along a small stream up the hill to Melmont ghost town.  You can see remnants of an old school, and foundations/walls from many other buildings from the town.   Additionally in this general area if you head west down toward the river there are some other remnants of past mining operations and a nice view of a waterfall dropping into the Carbon River.  

From the North trail-head of the Foothills Trail it is approximately one mile to reach the Melmont town-site and the Fairfax Bridge.  Some hikers do choose to park near the bridge itself and walk down some very steep slopes to reach the actual trail.  This is not recommended due to the steepness of the route as well as the potential for injury.

Overall the entire area is accessible year around due to its low elevation, however the trail can be quite muddy from Fall through Spring with the copious amounts of rain that falls here.  It is highly recommended to wear waterproof boots and potentially even gators to keep your pant legs from getting saturated.  Even with the potential for sloppy trail conditions this is one of my favorite spots close to home to take my young kids for a few hours of adventure.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Gators
  • Backpack
  • Rain gear
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • First Aid Kit
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RT Distance 10 Miles
Elevation Gain 30 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Running, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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