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Pinnacle Saddle

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Pinnacle Saddle resides in the Tatoosh Range, a craggy line of mountains due south of Rainier. This range sits well apart from Mount Rainier and its collection of smaller sibling summits nestled along its flank, but it offers one of the best "Mount Rainier experiences" you'll find. The climb is steep and rugged at times, but the payoff is the best views of the big mountain's south face you'll ever find.

The trail climbs gently for the first 0.5 mile, sweeping through a dense alpine forest before entering a long climb up a rocky ridge. Many years, you'll encounter lingering snowfields well into July along the entire route, and at times, the snowfields are located on steep sections of hillside, making travel difficult and potentially dangerous. Use caution and exercise good common sense.

At around 0.7 mile the views start to open up, and over the next mile the views grow increasingly grand, with Mount Rainier ever present on the northern horizon. At 1.7 miles, the trail crests the ridge between Plummer Peak and Pinnacle Peak. The trail ends at this 6000-foot saddle, with incredible views north and south. To the north, Rainier looms large, but to the south, you can see the jagged teeth of the Goat Rocks Wilderness as well as the snowy cone of Mount Adams.

Climbers tracks lead onto the lower sections of the two flanking peaks, but both of these mountains require true rock climbing skills, so casual hikers must be content with the fabulous views from the saddle before returning the way they came.
Driving Directions:

From Enumclaw, drive east about 47 miles on State Route 410 to the junction with SR 123 at Cayuse Pass. Stay right (straight ahead) to merge onto SR 123-Cayuse Pass Highway. Drive south about 11.5 miles to the junction with the Stevens Canyon Road. Turn right (west) and pass through the Stevens Canyon Entrance to the park. About 17 miles from SR 123, park at the Reflections Lake parking area. Look for the trail on the south side of the road near the western end of the parking area.

From the south, drive US 12 about 8 miles east of Packwood to the junction with SR 123. Turn north on SR 123 and continue about 6 miles, passing Ohanapecosh Campground, to the Stevens Canyon Road. Turn left (west) and pass through the Stevens Canyon Entrance to the park and find the trailhead as described above.

From the west, via Paradise, drive SR 706 through the Nisqually Entrance and continue a little less than 16 miles east to the trailhead on the south side of Stevens Canyon Road.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 60 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Pinnacle Saddle — Sep 14, 2013 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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Thank you to all the WTA volunteers who were working on the trail today and who will be working agai...
Thank you to all the WTA volunteers who were working on the trail today and who will be working again tomorrow! :)! You are very much appreciated! This was a beautiful hike and the trail was in excellent condition! Bob hiked to Plummer Peak while I waited in the area below near the small tarn. There were several varieties of fungi, but most were dry and beyond their prime. A few gentian were seen. We saw a bear in a meadow west of the trail at a creek crossing on our return to the TH.
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Pinnacle Saddle — Sep 13, 2013 — NWphotographer
Day hike
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Really a very enjoyable hiking trail with great views of Rainier and much more. The trail is listed ...
Really a very enjoyable hiking trail with great views of Rainier and much more. The trail is listed as being 3.5 miles roundtrip, but a sign at the beginning indicates 1.3 miles which would be 2.6 roundtrip. This seems more accurate, but just because it's short is a not a reason to avoid this trail. There are numerous unmaintained trails once you arrive at the end of the official trail so you can easily hike for 4-5 miles, possibly more.

It's difficult to find a better view of Rainier than from this trail, but that's only the beginning. Lots of exploration possibilities.
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Pinnacle Saddle — Sep 10, 2013 — branfo
Day hike
Features: Ripe berries
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Go on a sunny day and when you reach the saddle you can see Mt. Adams and gorgeous views of Mt. Rain...
Go on a sunny day and when you reach the saddle you can see Mt. Adams and gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier. This hike has a pretty good uphill climb but with a few breaks it is doable.
A decent amount of wild blueberries/huckleberries line the path. I highly recommend this hike.
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Pinnacle Saddle — Sep 04, 2013 — seattlenativemike
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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Left Seattle at 3am, got to Reflection Lakes at 5am, then started hiking at about 530am. Really lov...
Left Seattle at 3am, got to Reflection Lakes at 5am, then started hiking at about 530am. Really love this trail and its a great way to wake up :) Little spots of fall color here and there, and fading flowers. Great views of Rainier as you go along and at the top, a nice view of Adams as well. Sunrise was not as brilliant as I had hoped but everything was so peaceful and quiet. Headed back to Paradise for a short car nap, then back to the Puyallup Starbucks that I discovered wasn't open until 430am.
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Pinnacle Saddle — Sep 01, 2013 — mytho-man
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
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Ethan & I decided to brave the crowds at Mt Rainier this mostly sunny day and headed over to the tra...
Ethan & I decided to brave the crowds at Mt Rainier this mostly sunny day and headed over to the trail to Pinnacle Saddle. We arrived a bit after 10:00 & I was surprised that we had no difficulty finding a place to park. The trail is steep, but in great shape. Once at the saddle we decided to go on up Plummer Peak. The top of the peak was swarming with a hatch of flying ants. They didn't bite, but there were so many of them they were annoying so we went back down a little ways for lunch. Quite a few people came up the mountain as we were there, including a lot of kids - good to see the smaller ones out. There were a lot more people on the trail as we headed down & the parking area was jammed when we arrived. Rainier had an interesting cloud cap the entire time, finally clearing up only as we were heading down. We some some nice gentians & asters, there were ripe berries, and even some fall color. What a great hike!
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Rainier002.jpg
Photo by Kat Kersten
Location
Mt. Rainier -- SW - Cayuse Pass / Steven's Canyon
Longmire Wilderness Information Center
Statistics
Roundtrip 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain 1150 ft
Highest Point 6000 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Wildlife
User info
Dogs not allowed
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Paradise
No. 270s

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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