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
Dege Peak Trail
The Dege Peak Trail is a 6.4 km lightly trafficked hike in Mount Rainier National Park that offers a unique view of Mount Rainier, backing up your viewpoint a bit to offer a panoramic glimpse of the mountain and the park’s surrounding peaks. With an unobstructed view at the top, this hike delivers a lot for a very reasonable effort.
Eagle Peak Trail
For a classic hiking-in-Rainier experience, the 11.6 km Eagle Peak Trail delivers. This hard hike brings you through old-growth forest and wildflower-filled subalpine meadows to reach fantastic views of Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Tahoma. With a good bit of elevation gain to contend with, you’ll feel like you earned every inch of your summit view.
Golden Gate Trail
The Golden Gate Trail is a 6.1 km moderately difficult hike in Mount Rainier National Park that provides access to some fantastic photo spots. With tons of wildflowers to admire and perfect views of the Tatoosh Range and Mount Rainier, this hike offers a quintessential Rainier experience.
Mazama Ridge Trail to Faraway Rock
The Mazama Ridge Trail to Faraway Rock is a hard hike in Mount Rainier National Park that offers great views and light traffic. This trail traverses alpine meadows up to a ridge with breathtaking views. Follow the ridge to Faraway Rock, a steep little viewpoint that handsomely rewards your efforts to reach it. This is a fun trail with a high effort-reward payoff.
Alta Vista Trail
The Alta Vista Trail is a 2.9 km heavily trafficked trail in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park that offers stellar views of Mount Rainier without requiring any serious effort. This trail is family-friendly and easily connects to an array of other trails in the area. While parts of the trail are paved, roots and rougher sections may make strollers a challenge to bring.
Trail of the Shadows
The Trail of the Shadows is a quick, easy loop trail in Mount Rainier National Park that is family-friendly and offers insight into the history of Longmire. This trail also serves as a nice warm-up for those hiking to Rampart Ridge.
Chenuis Falls Hike
Where the Carbon River once washed out a road, there is now the 12.9 km Chenuis Falls hike. This hike follows the Carbon River to Chenuis Falls, a tranquil spot wrapped in forest. This trail might be long for some, but the elevation gain is very gradual. Additionally, this is the only trail in the park that allows mountain bikes if you’d prefer to take two wheels.
Skyscraper Mountain Hike
Skyscraper Mountain is an 12.9 km moderately difficult hike in Mount Rainier National Park that provides the chance to appreciate local wildlife and natural beauty. You’ll take Wonderland Trail to the summit, allowing you to appreciate Frozen Lake, Sourdough Ridge, and views of Mount Rainier.
Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge and Emerald Ridge Loop
The Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge to Emerald Ridge Loop is a 19.0 km lightly trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that offers a real sense of adventure due to its sometimes difficult-to-find trail and length. If you’re prepared to do a bit of routefinding, this loop offers a fantastic waterfall, an impressive bridge, and mountain views all to yourself.
Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge Hike
The Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge hike is a 10.1 km lightly trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that offers a real sense of adventure due to its sometimes hard-to-follow trail and lack of maintenance. If you’re prepared to do a bit of routefinding, Don’t let this scare you away, though. If you’re armed with a GPS, you’ll enjoy a quiet, beautiful trail.
Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail
The Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail is a 1.6 km easy trail in Mount Rainier National Park that features hot springs and is suitable for adventurers of all ages. While some hikers find the hot springs to be underwhelming, continuing past them brings you to a pretty waterfall. This hike is an easy add-on to your plans in the Ohanapecosh area.
Kautz Creek Trail
The Kautz Creek Trail to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground is an 17.7 km hard hike in Mount Rainier National Park that will test your endurance en route to a historic area of the park. This long, steep trail leads to a picturesque meadow that used to be home to a Native American mountain guide who guided many of the founders of the park. Bring lots of water and lots of bug repellent for this one!
Owyhigh Lakes Trail
The scenic Owyhigh Lakes Trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a moderate trail that leads you to two pretty blue lakes nestled underneath an impressive mountain ridge. This trail also provides the opportunity to summit nearby Tamanos Mountain if you’re looking to add some challenge. Enjoy these gem-blue lakes in the midst of a forest clearing for a pleasant outing in the park.
Crystal Peak Trail
The Crystal Peak Trail is an 12.9 km hike in Mount Rainier National Park that is considered hard, but will surely feel worth the effort. This hike brings you atop Crystal Peak to appreciate 360-degree views of 6 different volcanoes across two states. It’s a gorgeous summit and it makes a bit of a slog through the forest very worth it in the end.
Green Lake Trail
The Green Lake Trail is a 14.6 km heavily trafficked trail in Mount Rainier National Park that features a calm lake wrapped in verdant forest. While longer, the beginning of this trail is more relaxed, making it a nice outing without being too difficult.
Plummer Peak Hike
The hike to Plummer Peak via Pinnacle Peak Trail is a short but rewarding trip in Mount Rainier National Park that can be enjoyed on its own or combined with nearby trails for a longer trip. This hike offers nice views of the surrounding mountains without being too lengthy, but it does require a bit of scrambling to reach the summit.
The Moraine Trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a 4.0 km out-and-back trail that boasts pretty views the whole distance. This trail is a moderate challenge with undulating elevation gain and loss, but should be enjoyable for beginner hikers and older children in addition to more experienced adventurers. In addition to the views, the trail is lightly trafficked, giving you a bit of reprieve from the park’s usual crowds
Bench Lake Trail
The Bench Lake Trail is a short, easy hike 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.
Kautz Creek Trail to Mirror Lakes
The Kautz Creek Trail to Mirror Lakes hike is an 17.7 km hard hike in Mount Rainier National Park that will test your endurance in order to discover Mirror Lakes. This long, steep trail leads to four calm lakes in the forest. Bring lots of water and lots of bug repellent for this one!
Kautz Creek Trail to Longmire
The Kautz Creek Trail to Longmire via Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground hike is a 19.5 km hard hike in Mount Rainier National Park that will test your endurance. This hike passes through a historic area of the park before arriving in Longmire. This long, steep trail passes through a picturesque meadow that used to be home to a Native American mountain guide who guided many of the founders of the park. Bring lots of water and lots of bug repellent for this one!
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