Got an e-bike and want to get out and explore Mt. Rainier? I’ve got some good news for you. The Secretary of the Interior has published policies specific to e-bikes for those who want to ride in one of the best and most beautiful national parks in the country. See Secretary of the Interior Order 3376, “Increasing Recreational Opportunities through the use of Electric Bikes.” The Order went into effect on December 2, 2020 and sets out guidelines for using e-bikes on NPS land.
Bike Laws For E-Bikes
Under the new rules, e-bikes are now allowed everywhere traditional bicycles are allowed in Mount Rainier National Park. This includes all park roads currently open to motor vehicles. E-bikes possessing a motor of 750 watts or less (1 h.p) are permitted on roads and trails that are currently open only to bicycles, including the Westside Road to Klapache Point and the Carbon River Road from the Carbon River Entrance to Ipsut Creek Campground (see below for more details). E-bikes in excess of 750 watts are considered motor vehicles under the new policy and are only permitted on park roads open to vehicles.
Although e-bikes are not defined as a “motor vehicle” under the new guidelines, e-bikes are still be prohibited where there are signs that say “No Bikes.” If a Park Superintendent decides that either bike or e-bike use is not “consistent with protection of the park area’s natural, scenic and aesthetic values, safety considerations and management objectives, and will not disturb wildlife or park resources,” they may close the area to bikes. Wilderness areas, as always, remain closed to traditional bikes and e-bikes.
Riding the Roads
Here are the two road routes now open to e-bikes on Mt. Rainier:
Carbon River Trail (former road) The Carbon River Trail, in the northwest corner of the park, is approximately five miles long with an elevation gain of approximately 860 feet. Ride through a temperate rain forest alongside the Carbon River to Ipsut Creek Campground. The former road is not paved, but is mostly gravel with some rougher patches where the road has been washed out by the river. Due to the damaging November 2006 flood, bicyclists share the route with hikers, but the road is closed to motor vehicle traffic. The road is subject to flooding so it could close at any time. Check current road conditionswhen planning your trip.
Westside Road The Westside Road is one mile from the Nisqually Entrance, in the southwest corner of the park. The first three miles of the road are open to motor vehicles as well as bicycles. There is a small parking area at Dry Creek at the end of this three-mile section and many mountain bikers choose to leave their cars at this point. From Dry Creek, the road climbs to Round Pass, descends into the South Puyallup River Valley, then climbs to Klapatche Point, where the road terminates. From Dry Creek to Klapatche Pass, the road is 9.25 miles long with an elevation change of approximately 2,100 feet.
Additional information about e-biking on National Park land can be found on the Electric Bicycles in National Parks website.