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Tolmie Peak Lookout - Eunice Lake

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Bring the kids for this one so they can join everyone else's kids in trooping up to see grand views at a lovely alpine lake, with none of those raspy-looking backpacker types fouling the air along the trail. Tolmie Peak is a day-hiker's special. It's about the right distance, offers the right touch of outdoor magic at its destination, and has been ruled off-limits to overnighters.

The trail meanders about 1.75 miles to Ipsut Pass (elevation 5100 feet), where more ambitious hikers can continue north along Ipsut Creek to the Carbon River and the Wonderland Trail.

Stay left and walk just 0.8 mile to Eunice Lake, which offers grand views of Tolmie Peak and its lookout tower, not to mention a little molehill to the east known as Tahoma. Cinch down your knapsack and head on up the trail, climbing steeply another mile to Tolmie Peak, where the panorama is worth every one of the painful steps it took to get here. An old fire lookout cabin still stands atop the ridge knoll west of the true summit of Tolmie Peak. These high, lonesome watch stations have been replaced by satellites and computers, but at times you might still find a volunteer at the lookout cabin. If so, take the time to check out the historic old work room.
Driving Directions:

From Puyallup, drive 13 miles east on State Route 410 to Buckley. Turn right (south) onto SR 165 and proceed through Carbonado. Just beyond the Carbon River Gorge bridge, bear right onto Mowich Lake Road. Follow the road about 17 miles to its end and find the trailhead on the left (north) side of the road, near Mowich Lake.

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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 97 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Tolmie Peak Lookout - Eunice Lake — Dec 29, 2013 — onehikeaweek
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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Flickr: http://bit.ly/tolmie-peak While the dogs were still dreaming about Mount Persis from the ...
Flickr: http://bit.ly/tolmie-peak

While the dogs were still dreaming about Mount Persis from the day before, I snuck out to enjoy some me time in the Mount Rainier National Park area. I had just read about the hike this morning while eyeing through trip reports online. I don’t get to do a lot of hikes around Rainier since dogs aren’t allowed, so today was a perfect day to scope out a new place.

The Boundary was inconspicuous, had to drive slowly and look very closely for the entrance. Once on the trail, the goal was to first obtain the ridge parallel to Mowich Lake Road, and then traverse the ridge through Virginia Peak, Razzleberry, and Berry Peak to the Eunice Lake meadows.

I enjoyed the sight of the lookout tower from Eunice Lake for a few. Sadly, there aren’t too many of lookout towers left in the State of Washington. From the tower, I put on snowshoes and switched from poles to ice axe to walk the short ridge over to the peak. There were some icy spots on the ridge but manageable.

Unfortunately, Rainier was in clouds the entire time, otherwise it would have been an even more beautiful sight all around. On the way back I decided to follow the direction of the summer trail back down to the Mowich Lake Road and walked the road back to the car.
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Tolmie Peak Lookout - Eunice Lake — Sep 14, 2013 — Eric G.
Day hike
Features: Ripe berries
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For our group of imtermediate hikers, this trail was pretty easy. A few spots along the way had incl...
For our group of imtermediate hikers, this trail was pretty easy. A few spots along the way had inclines that got the heart pumping, but otherwise it's a pretty flat hike. Outside of a downed tree about a 1/3 into the hike, the trail was clear. The bugs were out, but they weren't biting or otherwise pesting.

On the way back down, we stopped at one of the alpine lakes for a cooling dip. Despite the recent hot weather and the clearing around the lake allowing direct sun, the lake was still pretty cool. About 15 minutes in the lake was enough before a warming sun-bath was needed.
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Tolmie Peak Lookout - Eunice Lake — Sep 12, 2013 — Liz
Day hike
Issues: Bugs
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What a gorgeous hike! Look for the trailhead sign along the left side of the road instead of going...
What a gorgeous hike! Look for the trailhead sign along the left side of the road instead of going down to the large parking near the campground. You can get there from the campground area, but it adds a little extra mileage along Mowich Lake.

The trail is well marked so don't get dismayed when you find yourself wondering why you're descending so much. Just trust the signs. They'll get you there. And keep in mind that you'll have about a 10-15 minute ascent back out.

The first sign you see on the trail says "Ipsut Pass 1 mile." Follow that and then veer off to the left when the trail forks.

I don't know if the elevation stated in the guide is cumulative (in and out), but it's easily doable if you're in reasonably good shape.

That said, just keep in mind that the views from the tower are spectacular and well worth the climb.

On the way back, we checked out Ipsut Pass, only a 200-feet detour. Well worth the extra few minutes. Views are spectacular. Look for the dark patch on the far cliff wall which looks like a cave where the rock has cracked off from the mountain.

Other than lots of flies and wasps (I got stung once upon the tower), the hike was all that I'd hoped it would be.

Both lakes (Mowich and Eunice) are stunning, especially with Mt. Rainier hovering in the background. The early morning mirror image of Rainier in Mowich Lake was a real treat.

Warning: be prepared for a horribly bumpy, dusty, teeth-jarring drive on Mowich Lake Road. Not too many potholes, just almost constant shallow ruts that are really hard on regular passenger cars. Best to have an SUV or some other heavy duty vehicle.

Mt. Rainier was out in all its glory and St. Helens was there, but a bit hazy. It was too cloudy/hazy to the north to see Baker.
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Tolmie Peak Lookout - Eunice Lake — Sep 09, 2013 — walkingtogether
Day hike
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Great hike. Beautiful weather, perfect temperature. Outstanding view of Mt. Rainier. The road to M...
Great hike. Beautiful weather, perfect temperature. Outstanding view of Mt. Rainier. The road to Mowich is a pain, but it's worth it.
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Tolmie Peak Lookout - Eunice Lake — Sep 04, 2013 — CRondorf
Day hike
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Weather started off clear but when we reached the top it clouded over and couldn't see the mountain ...
Weather started off clear but when we reached the top it clouded over and couldn't see the mountain at all. The ranger tower was cool to see. Some difficulty with the elevation gain, especially towards the end.
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1174-0 skibum.jpg
Photo courtesy of user 'skibum.'
Location
Tolmie Peak (#)
Mt. Rainier -- NW - Carbon River / Mowich
Mount Rainier National Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain 1100 ft
Highest Point 5900 ft
Features
Lakes
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Ridges/passes
User info
Good for kids
Dogs not allowed
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
50 Hikes in Mountain Rainier National Park
Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington & the Cascades (Burton - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Mount Rainier West
No. 269

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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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