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
Narada Falls to Mazama Ridge Loop
The Narada Falls to Mazama Ridge loop is an 11.9 km moderately trafficked route in Mount Rainier National Park that offers waterfall and mountain views. This trail is an enjoyable use of the interconnecting web of trails in the Paradise area of the park and can be shortened or lengthened if you’d like to customize your trip.
Paul Peak Trail
The Paul Peak Trail is a 10.1 km lightly trafficked out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is rated as moderate. This trail is mostly through the shaded forest and leads to a river that’s wonderful to cool down in. While there aren’t many mountain views on this one, it’s perfect for hot days or trail running.
Twin Firs Loop Trail
Twin Firs Loop is a 0.5 km hike in Mount Rainier National Park that is incredibly easy, making it a good choice for families with small children and beginners. It’s a good way to stretch your legs or end off a day of hiking in the area. Tall fir trees adorn this trail.
Burroughs Mountain Trail
The Burroughs Mountain Trail is a 14.5 km hard hike in Mount Rainier National Park that takes you between three peaks to various viewpoints. The trail is long but not too strenuous; part of the difficulty level comes from sections of unmaintained trail. This hike will grant you up-close views of Mount Rainier, the Emmons Glacier, Sourdough Ridge, Mount Fremont, and more. If the full 14.5 km hike is too long for you, you can turn back from the first or second peaks and still have a fantastic day.
Dewey Lake Trail
The Dewey Lake Trail is a 9.7 km moderately trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that features a lake and wildflowers. This is a hike that demands the right season: between late July and September, you’ll enjoy a flower-clad trail, a lake warm enough to swim, and ripe berries along the path. In the early shoulder season, there is significant avalanche risk from the late-melting Naches Peak north chutes, an overwhelming troupe of mosquitoes, and too much mud to pass through easily. Now, don’t let this turn you off! In the midsummer and when the fall colors turn, the Dewey Lake Trail is absolutely wonderful.
Stevens Creek Trail
The Stevens Creek Trail is a just over 1.6 km trail in Mount Rainier National Park that requires relatively little effort and offers pleasant views of Stevens Creek and Martha Falls. You can either keep it quick and nice by hiking to the junction with the Wonderland Trail, or you can push on further on the Wonderland Trail or to the Stevens Canyon Waterfall. The trail is well-maintained and offers a bit of respite from the mosquitoes that are common on other trails in the park.
Glacier Basin Trail
The Glacier Basin Trail is a 10.5 km moderately trafficked route in Mount Rainier National Park that offers beautiful glacier views, wildflowers, and a peak of Mount Rainier. After being devastated by a flood in 2006, the trail was painstakingly reworked over four years to provide new access into Glacier Basin. This is a highly rewarding trail and a perfect way to enjoy one of the most iconic glaciers in the park.
Wonderland Trail to Camp Summerland
The Wonderland Trail to Camp Summerland hike is a 16.3 km out and back trail of moderate difficulty in Mount Rainier National Park. Despite a longer length, this trail remains moderate thanks to its gradual elevation gain. You’ll enjoy gorgeous wildflower meadows, lakes, streams, and mountain views on this trail.
Nisqually Vista Trail
The Nisqually Vista Trail is a short, easy trail in Mount Rainier National Park that offers gorgeous mountain views and a trail lined with wildflowers. This trail is easy, requires little elevation gain, and is definitely family-friendly.
Carbon River Rainforest Nature Trail
The Carbon River Rainforest Trail is a short, easy hike in Mount Rainier National Park that combines two short walking segments into a 1.0 km roundtrip hike. This trail leads through the pretty rainforest and interpretive signs along the trail share information about the flora and fauna. This trail is family-friendly.
Rampart Ridge Hike
The Rampart Ridge hike is a loop trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is moderately challenging and generally less busy than many other trails in the area. The trail climbs steadily, offering a nice challenge without being overwhelming. There’s a unique natural arched tree on this trail that makes for a great photo spot!
Crystal Lake Trail to Sourdough Gap
The Crystal Lake Trail to Sourdough Gap is a 9.7 km trail to a deeply blue lake under Mount Rainier. This moderately challenging hike includes a few switchbacks in exchange for scenic views and an easy-to-follow trail.
Shriner Peak Hike
The hike to Shriner Peak is an 13.7 km lightly trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park. This under-appreciated hike offers a wonderful view of Mount Rainier, a solid workout, and a more peaceful trail than you tend to find in the park. With some sweaty switchbacks leading to a wide lookout and plenty of wildflowers to enjoy, you’ll love this adventure.
Mildred Point Trail
The Mildred Point hike is a 9.8 km out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park that requires some exertion but rewards with great waterfall and mountain views. Comet Falls are along the trail and Mildred Point offers impressive views over the park, making for an enjoyable (and sweaty) hike.
Palisades Lakes Trail
The Palisades Lakes Trail is a 11.3 km out and back trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is moderately difficult and provides the chance to enjoy not one, not two, but seven lakes! A favourite area for local wildlife and wildflowers, this trail is a beautiful trip into nature. While it’s gotten much more popular in recent years, it’s for good reason—this trail is charming and not too difficult to complete.
Sourdough Gap from Sheep Lake
The hike to Sourdough Gap from Sheep Lake is an enjoyable moderate outing, clocking in at 10.8 km and offering scenic views of Sheep Lake and the subalpine forest. While there are countless trails in this region and several ways to reach Sourdough Gap, the route from Sheep Lake is not as difficult as some others while still offering the same carpets of wildflowers and lofty views.
Shadow Lakes Trail to Sunrise Camp
There are lots of ways to reach Sunrise Camp, but the easy hike on Shadow Lakes Trail is the best family-friendly, relaxing option. With little elevation gain required and lots of views to enjoy on the way, the hike to Sunrise Camp on Shadow Lakes Trail is a great way to soak up the beauty of the airport without needing to work too hard.
Sunrise Nature Trail
The Sunrise Nature Trail is a short and sweet nature walk in Mount Rainier National Park that explores the Sunrise area. This trail is great for families and those seeking a less challenging trail and tends to take less than an hour to complete, making it a good addition to your other plans or hikes in the area.
Paradise Glacier Trail
The Paradise Glacier Trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a moderately challenging 16.1 km out-and-back trail that allows you to fully appreciate one of Mount Rainier’s icy glaciers. This trail sees less traffic than others in the park, making it an ideal outing for adventurers who want a medium challenge, solid length, and fantastic views without the crowds.
Bench and Snow Lakes Trail
The Bench and Snow Lakes Trail is an easy 3.2 km trail in Mount Rainier National Park that features two lakes and offers some respite from the usual crowds of the park. This family-friendly trail is short, easy to navigate, and Snow Lake is a real treat. Bring bug spray on this trail or you may struggle to complete it.
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