Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier Hikes
Mt. Rainier hikes are an incredibly popular adventure with outdoor enthusiasts, as Mount Rainier National Park is the gem of Washington State. Comprising nearly 370 square miles of pristine scenery, the star of the show is 4,392 m Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the state. With endless carpets of lush wildflowers, dense forests, and rushing waterfalls around every turn, Mt. Rainier hikes are certainly a dream for hikers and adventurers of all ages. Drawing over 2 million visitors each year, Mount Rainier National Park is a a premier destination in the Pacific Northwest and a haven for hiking, photographing, camping, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. If you are after a scenic adventure in Washington, there are a wide variety of Mt. Rainier hikes that will be sure not to disappoint!
Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States. The park protects a portion of the Cascade Range, 91,000 acres of old-growth forest, and countless gorgeous wildflower meadows, glaciers, and valleys. As the foundation document for the park reads, “The purpose of Mount Rainier National Park is to protect and preserve unimpaired the majestic icon of Mount Rainier, along with its natural and cultural resources, values, and dynamic processes. The park provides opportunities for people to experience, understand, and care for the park environment, and also provides for wilderness experiences and sustains wilderness values.”
With a dizzying array of trails, campsites, and stellar corners to explore, we’ve put together a list of our favorite Mt. Rainier hikes to help you plan your trip. This is just the start, though- there’s so much to see here!
The 10 Epic Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
There are so many hikes to choose from in Mount Rainier National Park, it can be hard to know where to start! We’ve chosen some of our favourite trails in all corners of the park to help you choose your adventure.
Every kind of trail junkie can find their perfect Mt. Rainier hike here. There are family-friendly trails, more challenging hikes, and long multi-day backpacking trips on offer, so you’ll be able to choose the right trail no matter what you’re in the mood for. With lots of mid-difficulty routes in the park, intermediate hikers can balance a good workout and fabulous views. On hot days, hikes featuring waterfalls are a hugely popular choice in the park. And if you’ve got little ones tagging along, you can even find stroller-friendly trails to enjoy!
No matter which one of these Mt. Ranier hikes you decide to take, you’ll be treated to splendid views of the snow-clad Cascades, countless flowers, waterfalls, or ancient trees.
- Pinnacle Peak Saddle Trail - The Pinnacle Peak Saddle trail offers a lofty viewpoint over the Paradise area with only moderate effort required. With no technical challenges and a consistent steady incline, it offers a great quick workout with views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams to reward you.
- Grove of the Patriarchs Trail - The Grove of the Patriarchs hike is a family-friendly hike that takes you through an old-growth forest and over a suspension bridge. This relaxed path requires very little elevation gain but gets you right up next to trees over 91 m tall. En route, you’ll notice interpretive signs that offer nice insight into the natural flora and fauna of the forest.
- Skyline Loop Trail - The Skyline Loop Trail boasts exceptional views and wide swathes of wildflowers in the summertime. Not only will you see countless wildflowers, but this moderate-length hike packs a punch when it comes to stunning scenery. Expect to pass by cascading waterfalls and mighty glaciers. Of course, the star of the show is the grand view of Mount Rainier.
- Tipsoo Lake Trail - The Tipsoo Lake Loop is an easy, short hike around a lake suitable for all ages and skill levels. This short hike is often combined with an ascent of Naches Peak, but the lake loop in itself is perfect for a low-key outing. It offers extremely mild elevation gain and the chance to see lush wildflowers.
- Naches Peak Loop - The popular Naches Peak Loop hike offers diverse alpine scenery in a short, easy to complete loop. You’ll crest a small valley, enjoy views of Tipsoo Lake, walk through vast wildflower meadows, and do it all with views of Mount Rainier. The Naches Peak Loop hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail for a portion of the trek, giving you the honor of a few steps on an epic thru-hike.
- Tolmie Peak Trail - The Tolmie Peak Trail takes you up to an old fire lookout, where you’ll enjoy incredible up-close views of Mount Rainier and Eunice Lake. These two viewpoints are go-to spots for sunrise and sunset photographers. The Tolmie Peak Trail crosses over part of the Wonderland Trail, one of Washington’s most impressive long-distance trails.
- Narada Falls to Reflection Lake - The hike between Narada Falls and Reflection Lake links the serene Reflection Lake with the thundering Narada Falls. Instead of driving to see both, you can take this enjoyable trail in between. This trail can be hiked in either direction, allowing you to tailor your adventure to your day’s plans. On a hot day, the cool mist of the falls and water of the lake is a welcome treat.
- Frozen Lake via Sourdough Ridge - The Frozen Lake via Sourdough Ridge trail is an easy hike in Mount Rainier National Park that takes you to a small, icy lake. The trail also rewards you with great views from Sourdough Ridge of Mount Rainier itself. The hike is fairly short, requires little elevation gain, and is perfect for a quick outing or a trip with adventurous kids. Enjoy this quiet, scenic hike and savour those peaceful moments on the lakeshore.
- Silver Falls Hike - The Silver Falls hike is a family-friendly hike that takes you to a cascading waterfall and that can be easily linked with the popular Grove of the Patriarchs trail. The hike requires little elevation gain and the trail is wide, making it a nice choice for families. As you hike, you can read the collection of interpretive signs along the trail that highlight the history of this spot.
- Fremont Lookout Trail - Watchmen used to watch for wildfires from the cabin atop Mount Fremont, but now the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail serves to give you an excellent vantage point over Grand Peak, Redstone Peak, and Skyscraper Mountain. Take this perfect half-day hike in Rainier National Park for great views and just enough of a challenge!
Scroll down to see the full list of hiking trails in Mount Rainier National Park.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Mount Rainier National Park?
Mount Rainier National Park experiences warm, enjoyable summers and cool winters with lots of precipitation. Parts of the park close in the late fall and remain closed through the spring, so we recommend visiting in the summer months of June through September if you are looking to experience the best of the Mt. Rainier hikes. If you’re hoping to catch the wildflower blooms in their full glory, a trip between mid-July and mid-August tends to be the best option.
While the summer months offer the best weather and best flowers, they do also bring the heaviest crowds. If you’re okay with running into potential leftover snow on the trail or missing the flowers, visiting in June or mid-September can give you more privacy on the trails while still offering suitable hiking weather.
If you’re seeking to enjoy winter activities in the park, like snowshoeing, visiting between December and early March will be your best bet. Just come prepared, as rangers and services may be unavailable. Take care to plan your visit carefully, since some roads in the park are subject to seasonal closures.
Other Outdoor Activities in Mount Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier hikes are by far the most popular activity within the national park, but it’s certainly not the only way to spend your time here. The park is a fantastic spot to camp, with both soft-side and hard-side sites available. There are also some backcountry spots you can use during your time in the park, especially if you’re completing a backpacking trip. Most sites need to be booked in advance.
In the winter months, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding are very popular. Many hiking trails are suitable for snowshoeing, and most backcountry users will hike up to Camp Muir to ski or snowboard the Muir snowfields.
For downhill skiing and snowboarding in-bounds, Crystal Mountain is a huge draw. This top-rated resort boasts lots of expert runs. If you’re a powder hound, try White Pass Ski Area, a more off the beaten path zone with great natural terrain.
How to Plan a Trip to Mount Rainier National Park
A hiking trip in Mount Rainier National Park is an unforgettable adventure, but you’ll want to put enough time and energy into planning to make your trip smooth. Whenever you’re planning a trip to a national park, there are fees, permits, transportation requirements, and day-to-day logistics to consider. The official website of the park is a great resource for trip planning, as is the National Park Service, which also posts up-to-date trail conditions, closures, and other important information.
Mount Rainier National Park Adventure Tours
Not so excited about hashing out the details of your itinerary? Letting the pros plan your adventure in Mount Rainier National Park takes the stress out of your holiday, letting you focus on your experiences. Check out some incredible adventure tours in Mount Rainier National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mount Rainier National Park
Do I need a pass or permit to enter Mount Rainier National Park?
Yes, you’ll need to purchase either a day pass or an America the Beautiful Pass to enter the park. This can be done online in advance or when entering the park gates.
How many days do you need in Mount Rainier National Park?
You could spend anywhere from a day to two weeks exploring the park! Most visitors come for one day or a weekend, but some devoted backpackers (like those completing the Wonderland Trail) will spend nearly two weeks in the park. We recommend two full days to have the time to enjoy several different hikes in the park.
Which city is closest to Mount Rainier National Park?
The closest major city to Mount Rainier National Park is Tacoma (80.5 km), which also has the closest international airport, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Seattle is about 128.7 km from the park.
Can you camp in Mount Rainier National Park?
There are both frontcountry and backcountry campsites in the park. Make sure you book your spot ahead and get all the necessary permits before you pitch your tent.
Are dogs allowed in Mount Rainier National Park?
Dogs are not allowed on trails, in the wilderness, inside buildings, in amphitheatres, or on snow in the park. You can have your dog in the car and parking lot with you (on leash only), but because of the firm restrictions in nearly all other parts of the park, we do not recommend bringing dogs into the park at all.
Service animals (not including emotional support animals) are exempted.
Do you need a car in Mount Rainier National Park?
Currently, there is no public transportation available in the park. We recommend either driving your own car, renting a car, or booking a tour that includes transportation.
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Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
Old Mine Trail
The Old Mine Trail is a 5.5 km easy hike in Mount Rainier National Park that features a mine shaft and tends to be less busy than other trails. This hike is family-friendly, only requiring hikers to complete one steeper section. This trail is suitable for little ones as long as they can make a short effort on the steep section.
Deadhorse Creek Trail to Golden Gate Loop
The Deadhorse Creek Trail to Golden Gate Loop is a 7.7 km moderately trafficked loop trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as moderate. This loop makes use of two popular trails to offer great views of the Paradise region of Mount Rainier National Park. Because of the dense network of trails in the area, it’s easy to combine this trail with another hike nearby.
Sunrise Backcountry Camp Loop
The Sunrise Backcountry Camp Loop is a 4.3 km heavily trafficked loop trail in Mount Rainier National Park that leads you through pretty wildflowers and forest to a backcountry campsite. This trail is often done as a loop, but you can also hike it out and back to enjoy the wildflowers on the return trip.
The Eastside Trail is an 11.6 km moderately trafficked easy trail in Mount Rainier National Park that offers the opportunity to appreciate the old-growth forests of the park without the crowds that other forest trails can draw. This trail also reaches a pleasant waterfall. While it doesn’t boast mountain views, the ancient trees that line the path are reason enough to go.
Madcap Falls Hike
The Madcap Falls hike is an easy 4.7 km trail in Mount Rainier National Park that features a waterfall and is family-friendly. This trail is a good choice for all skill levels with only a little bit of elevation to gain and a modest distance. Enjoy the rushing falls and the lighter-than-average crowds.
Sunrise Lake Trail
The Sunrise Lake Trail is an easy, short, family-friendly hike in Mount Rainier National Park that features a small lake. This trail is suitable for all skill levels and a good side trip for hikers on Palisades Lake Trail. Bring bug spray and enjoy!
Skyline, Mazama, Wonderland, and Lower Lakes Loop
The Skyline, Mazama, Wonderland, and Lower Lakes Trail Loop is a 13.5 km hard hike in Mount Rainier National Park that offers great mountain views, wildflowers, and the ability to customize your hike on the plethora of trails in the area. This hike is often regarded as just challenging enough while offering great rewards for your efforts. Bring bug spray and lots of water.
Mount Ruth via Glacier Basin and Emmons Moraine Trails
The Mount Ruth via Glacier Basin and Emmons Moraine Trails hike is a 13.5 km difficult hike in Mount Rainier National Park. This hike is no small task in terms of distance and elevation gain, but it earns extra difficulty points for its sometimes difficult-to-find route and the need to bring ice axes, crampons, and a helmet. We recommend this trail for more experienced hikers.
Gobblers Knob Fire Lookout
The Gobblers Knob Fire Lookout hike in Mount Rainier National Park is an 18.5 km hard hike that offers wonderful views over the surrounding mountains. This one is a leg burner—steep on the way up, and unrelenting downhill as you descend. It’s worth the effort, though! Bring lots of water and enjoy.
Deer Creek Falls to Owyhigh Lakes Trail
The Deer Creek Falls to Owyhigh Lakes Trail hike is a 15.0 km out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is moderately trafficked and provides the opportunity for extension. While this trail is a pleasant trip in itself, many hikers take it to the trail that leads up Tamanos Mountain or to Tamanos Creek Camp. Note that you need a wilderness pass for this trail and you can’t camp at Owyhigh— just book in at Tamanos instead.
Van Trump Trail
The Van Trump Trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a 15.0 km moderately trafficked hard out and back hike. This trail takes you through the splendid Van Trump Park, which is full of wildflowers during midsummer. If you’re feeling extra energetic, you can use this trail to access Camp Hazard en route to the Rainier summit.
Forest Lake via Huckleberry Creek and Sourdough Ridge
The hike to Forest Lake via Huckleberry Creek and Sourdough Ridge is an 8.5 km moderately trafficked out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as moderate and provides access to Forest Lake Camp. Even if you’re not camping, this is a pretty hike with enjoyable mountain views.
Fay Peak Trail
The Fay Peak Trail is a 4.3 km lightly trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as hard. This hike offers great views of the top over Mowich Lake, but it requires a good steep push to reach the summit. Make sure you bring bug spray for this one!
The Rainforest Trail is a 3.7 km lightly trafficked out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that provides waterfall views. This trail is short but includes some steeper sections that may be unsuitable for smaller children. Bring bug spray for this hike.
Carter Falls and Madcap Falls via Longmire
The Carter Falls and Madcap Falls via Longmire hike is a 9.5 km lightly trafficked moderate hike in Mount Rainier National Park that is suitable for active children. This hike features Carter Falls and Madcap Falls and can be easily accessed from Longmire. Take care to check with the park on the status of the Nisqually bridge before heading out as it is subject to washout.
Goat Island Mountain Trail
The Goat Island Mountain Trail is a 14.0 km lightly trafficked loop trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as difficult. This trail not only requires fair distance and elevation gain, but the trail is poorly defined and most hikers end up bushwhacking or experiencing navigational difficulties. Please bring a detailed map or GPS tracking with you to attempt this hike.
South Puyallup Trail
The South Puyallup Trail is a 4.7 km lightly trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as easy. This trail is most often used to access the South Puyallup River Camp as part of a longer backpacking trip as the trailhead is inaccessible directly from a road, but if you’re in the area, it makes a pleasant, moderate walk on its own.
Skyscraper Pass and Burroughs Mountain via Wonderland Trail
Skyscraper Pass and Burroughs Mountain via Wonderland Trail is a 13.2 km moderately trafficked route in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as hard. This trail delivers in terms of views, but part of the difficulty rating comes from a section of poorly defined trail that requires some bushwhacking. If you’re prepared to take it on, you’ll have the mountain to yourself!
Eastside Trail to Deer Creek Camp
The Eastside Trail is a 14.2 km lightly trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that provides access to Deer Creek Camp and is rated as moderate. This trail is a nice nature walk on its own, but this particular arm is most often used to reach Deer Creek Camp for backpacking trips. The trail meanders along Chinook Creek underneath two peaks, making for a peaceful trip.
Camp Summerland via Wonderland Trail
The hike to Camp Summerland on the Wonderland Trail is a 13.5 km moderately trafficked out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as hard. This trail does have steep and tiring sections, but the beautiful views of the Cowlitz Chimneys, Tamanos Mountain, Goat Island Mountain, and Meany Crest make it very worth it. Bring lots of water and bug spray on this trail.
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