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Mount Rainier Hikes

The snow on Mount Rainier never seems to melt fast enough for hikers wanting to explore the many treasures of Mount Rainier National Park. Use our guide to plan your hikes -- from short strolls to overnights -- from June through October.
Mt. Rainier National Park
(360) 569-2211
Website

Wilderness Information Center: (360) 569-6650 (for backcountry permits, hiking info)
Permit Info for Backpacking & Climbing
Trail Conditions
Road Conditions
Campground Info

The snow on Mount Rainier never seems to melt fast enough for hikers wanting to explore the many treasures of Mount Rainier National Park. Use our guide to plan your hikes -- from short strolls to overnights -- from June through October.

Before you go: Check trail conditions and check in with a park ranger. They always have great tips on where to go, what wildlife you might spot and will alert you to any hazards.

Camping: Mount Rainier National Park has two campgrounds on the reservation system. Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh accept reservations up to six months in advance; White River and Mowich Lake are on first-come, first-served basis.

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Northwest

Carbon River & Mowich Lake Area

Paul Peak Trail

Paul Peak trail 300x300
S. Mowich River early in the morning. Photo by doublemom

Roundtrip: 5.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1050 ft
Highest Point: 4200 ft
When to Hike: June - October

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Paul Peak Trail

If you're willing to trade classic views of Mount Rainier for the panoramic variety, then you might want to try out the Paul Peak trail. It's clear of snow earlier. The turnaround is at the intersection with the Wonderland Trail, so it's easy to extend if you want a little longer of a hike.

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Spray Park

Spray Park view of Rainier
Spray Park view of Mount Rainier. Photo by wolfs.

Roundtrip: 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1600 ft
Highest Point: 6400 ft
When to Hike: July - September

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Spray Park

Like Tolmie Peak Lookout trail (below), about 30 percent of Spray Park remains under snowpack well into July. But when it finally melts, this climb up into a series of alpine meadows is worth the wait. You'll see wildflowers, incredible vistas and maybe even a few marmots along the climb. It's a classic (and sometimes busy) hike, and a good one to keep in mind for a September trip to the park.

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Tolmie Peak Lookout

Avalance Lilies Tolmie 300x300
Avalanche lilies in bloom. Photo by Lisa Elliot

Roundtrip: 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1100 ft
Highest Point: 5900 ft
When to Hike: July - September

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Tolmie Peak Lookout

Avalanche Lilies bloom in abundance on this trail, but huge chunks of the trail (including the first section out from the trailhead) remains under snowpack until late July. Between the snow and frozen lakes, you might want to flag this one for August hiking, when you'll have a better chance of making it safely to the Tolmie Fire Lookout. Between the lakes and the lookout, this one can be fun for kids, even though 7.5 miles is no short roundtrip for little legs.

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Summerland

Summerland wildflowers
Summerland = wildflowers at their finest. Photo by Bob and Barb.

Location: Mount Rainier
Round Trip: 8.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1950' to 5900'
Best Season: July - August

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Summerland

Guidebook author Dan Nelson calls Summerland "the single most spectacular day hike in the entire park." Mountain views, glaciers, marmots, goats and flowers - this hike has it all. The meadows of Summerland are renowned for their beauty. Go here once, and you'll already be planning your return.

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East

White River

Glacier Basin

Bear at Glacier Basin 300x300
Photo by hikingqueen. A bear spotted in Glacier Basin in June.

Roundtrip: 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 1600 ft
Highest Point: 5900 ft
When to Hike: July - October

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Glacier Basin

Glacier Basin is one of the most popular trails in Mount Rainier National Park. Day hikers enjoy camping in the White River campground and then taking to the trail directly from their campsite. Backpackers long for camping in the basin. It's also one of the best bets for seeing wildlife in the park, especially if you go early. What creatures are you likely to see? Trip Reporters often mention bears, marmots, otters and songbirds. The trail is wide and easy trail, with wildflowers and lovely views. The park asks you to follow the bamboo wands where marked to avoid fragile meadows. And don't forget to notice all of the fine stone handiwork along the trail; WTA volunteers have spentfour years building this impressive new section of trail.

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Burroughs Mountain

Burroughs Mnt.jpg
The Mountain from the Burroughs Mountain trail. Photo by HF Walter.

Roundtrip: 7.4 miles
Elevation Gain:
1000 ft
Highest Point: 7400 ft.
When to Hike: July - September

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Burroughs Mountain

Spray Park may have more in the way of blooms (and bugs), but this high trail wins for gobsmacking views of Mount Rainier. Hike from Sunrise through meadows to Frozen Lake. Climb up to the ridges and carefully traverse any remaining snow fields from First to Second Burrough. You'll be spinning around, taking in the vistas from every direction. Complete the hike by looping back to the visitor center.

 

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Tipsoo Lake-Naches Peak Loop

Fall Color on the Tipsoo Loop 300x300
Fall Color & Mt Rainier. Photo by (c) David Hagen

Roundtrip: 3.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 ft
Highest Point: 5849 ft
When to Hike: Late-July - October

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for Tipsoo Lake-Naches Peak Loop

This is a trail to save until August or September. In this short window of time, hikers will rejoice by frolicking in fields of wildflowers and soaking in one of the classic views of The Mountain. Plus, it's a loop hike! If you want to find solitude on this trail, try going at sunrise with a thermos full of hot coffee. Be sure to take some bug spray, too. And to get the best views of Mount Rainier, hike the loop in a clockwise direction and go on a clear day!

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Southeast

Ohanapecosh Area

Grove of the Patriarchs Loop

Suspension Bridge Grove of Patriarchs 300x300
The suspension bridge. Photo by Milepost167.

Roundtrip: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 50 ft
Highest Point: 2200 ft
When to Hike: May - October

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for the Grove of the Patriarchs Loop

A fantastic hike for families to stretch their legs on, this short, flat loop features enormous old growth hemlocks, cedars and Douglas firs as the patriarchs. If you've got a group, the trees are perfect to snap some photos of hug chains around their base. The likely highlight for young hikers, though, is a bouncy suspension bridge about halfway around.

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Laughingwater Creek to Three Lakes

Three Lakes Camp 300x300
Making Camp at Three Lakes. Photo by justpeachy.

Roundtrip: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 2800 ft
Highest Point: 4880 ft
When to Hike: July - October

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for the Laughingwater Creek to Three Lakes

For a true old growth forest experience, day hike the first five miles of trail in July and peer up and around towering Alaska yellow cedar and mountain hemlock. In mid-summer, red and white striped candy stick fungus pops out of the forest floor, and you may be lucky enough to have this place to yourself. The full 12 mile hike to Three Lakes doesn't melt out until late summer. Save it for September after the bugs have gone, or prepare for an onslaught!  Because it doesn't feature many of the views that people come to expect from a Mount Rainier hike, the trail is usually crowd-free. It's great on a cloudy day and makes a solid overnight destination. The first few miles and the last few miles are the most challenging.

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Southwest

Longmire Area

Carter Falls

Carter Falls trail 300x300
Running down the trail between Carter Falls and Paradise River Camp. Photo by lindsyrox.

Roundtrip: 7.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 ft
Highest Point: 3650 ft
When to Hike: Midsummer

>> Read WTA's Hiking Guide entry for the Carter Falls

This relatively flat, easy-to-follow trail through old growth forest can be good for families or out-of-town guests, with cascades along the way for easy turn-around spots. Start at the small parking area about 2 miles from Longmire and just before Cougar Rock Campground road. You should run across Carter Falls at 1.1 miles and Narada Falls at 2.7 miles to Narada Falls. There's a sturdy footbridge across the Nisqually River.

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