Access the Owyhigh Lakes Trail via Deer Creek Falls on this slightly longer hike than the one from the Sunrise Road. This trailhead is marked on the right of southbound Highway 123, across the street from the parking area. Quickly cross the road (watch for traffic, it’s a busy road on a blind corner) to the marker and you will finally see the trailhead, which is mostly invisible from the road due to brush and low hanging tree branches.
The trail immediately descends and disappears from the road into the forest valley. Wander down and around the couple of well-maintained switchback paths and marvel at the ancient and enormous Douglas fir trees, as well as the hemlock and cedar trees that thrive in the shadow of Mount Rainier. Be sure to note the curious 4-to-6 inch pine cones littering the forest floor and look something like a fat mice.
A quarter of a mile down is the first viewpoint of Deer Creek Falls. The falls are not huge, and the volume of water will vary depending on the time of year, but check out the cut of the boulders that make the water appear to flow almost horizontally before pouring down to the next tier.
The trail continues another quarter-mile, providing another falls vantage point where you can see it tumble into the Chinook Creek. This section of the trail ends at the Eastside trail junction where there are a few simple walk-in only campsites and a pair of footbridges crossing over small but lively creeks that provide a place for rest, contemplation, or a least a few photo ops.
Continuing on another 1.5 miles, hikers can investigate another waterfall on Kotsuck Creek. Owyhigh Lakes is another 2.5 miles beyond that (about five miles from the trailhead). Half a mile before achieving the lakes, you'll be rewarded with majestic views from Owyhigh Pass, which gives you a birds-eye view of the lakes, as well as Governors Ridge, the Cowlitz Chimneys, and Tamanos Mountain.
Once at the lakes, visitors can enjoy more staggering views of the Chimneys and relax near the lake before heading back the way they came.