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Moraine Trail

Mount Rainier Area > SW - Longmire/Paradise
46.7864, -121.7365 Map & Directions
Length
2.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
400 feet
Highest Point
5850 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy
Nisqually Glacier, from the Moraine Trail. Photo by Ken Giesbers. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Rivers
  • Ridges/passes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

Sometimes the crowds at Mount Rainier’s Paradise can be overwhelming. Hike the Moraine Trail to get off of asphalt paths and away from the throngs. The reward is a view down into the immense Nisqually River Valley from the very edge of its moraine. Continue reading

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Hiking Moraine Trail

Sometimes the crowds at Mount Rainier’s Paradise can be overwhelming. Hike the Moraine Trail to get off of asphalt paths and away from the throngs. The reward is a view down into the immense Nisqually River Valley from the very edge of its moraine.

You can obtain a free copy of the “Paradise Area Trails” map, featuring this hike and more, from the Longmire Wilderness Information Center or Paradise Visitor Center.

From the stone staircase at Paradise, climb steeply on the asphalt Skyline Trail. Follow signs to stay on the Skyline Trail until at half a mile you see a sign for the Deadhorse Creek Trail. Veer left (north) at that junction to connect with Deadhorse. At the next junction, go hard left (southwest) on the Deadhorse Creek Trail. In 250 feet, a small sign on the right announces the Moraine Trail. Go right, leaving asphalt behind, shortly passing a sign reading “End of Maintained Trail. Travel safely causing minimum impact beyond here”.

Pass through a small stand of trees then descend gently into the open. A ridge to your right now separates you from the often crowded area you just left. Continue gently downhill on pleasant trail. When you see the trail divide, avoid the left (lower) trail. Both paths go to the same place, but the lower trail drops steeply through treacherously loose and slippery terrain. Instead just continue straight on the upper trail.

At one mile, step across the stream and walk to the edge of the moraine at 1.1 miles, where it connects with the lower trail. Before you wander the edge of the moraine for varied views, notice that the trail below is unsafe in places, simply too close to the loose gravelly edge of the moraine.

Admire the broad Nisqually River valley and what remains of the Nisqually Glacier several hundred feet below. Or just gaze at the summit. When you are ready, return to the asphalt paths the way you came, and then decide where to go next.

Hike Description Written by
Ken Giesbers, WTA Correspondent

Moraine Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7864, -121.7365 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Enter the west (Nisqually) entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, 13.5 miles east of Elbe on State Route 706. Drive 17 miles to the lower parking lot at Paradise. Park here for visits longer than 2 hours. Walk 300 yards to the Visitor Center, the upper parking lot, and the stone staircase that begins this hike.

There is room for about 200 vehicles in each of the parking lots, plus more parking beyond the upper lot on the one-way exit road. The Visitor Center has restrooms, food, water, information, and much more.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area > SW - Longmire/Paradise

Mount Rainier National Park

Guidebooks & Maps

Paradise Area Trails (available free from the Wilderness Information Center at Longmire or the Paradise Visitor Center)

Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Map and Guide

Earthwalk Press

Download a map to plan your hike

Buy the Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270 map

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Moraine Trail

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