Follow the trails here to views of Mount Rainier's rocky Nisqually River valley and the much-receded Nisqually Glacier. No need for hiking boots, as it follows a paved path to the overlook.
The lower parking lot at Mount Rainier’s Paradise is for visits longer than 2 hours. When the upper lot fills (early on nice days), many park at the lower lot, but never look to see the trailhead at the far (western) end. A signboard there announces the beginning of the Nisqually Vista Trail.
Climb the stone stairs to the asphalt path above. Go left at the junction to Nisqually Vista. The trail climbs briefly then descends to another signed junction. You have a choice here; either direction takes you in a loop. If you wish to save the best viewpoint for last, go straight and walk the gently descending path counterclockwise, passing a few viewpoints along the way.
At the farthest point (just over 0.5 mile) is the best and final viewpoint, with an interpretive sign describing the Nisqually Glacier. The glacier has receded greatly over the years, leaving what looks like an elongated gravel-covered mound, far smaller than it used to be. The bottom, or snout, of the glacier has a nearly vertical face, where meltwater from above washes over and erodes it.
Marvel at the enormity of the classic U-shaped valley, and imagine when the Nisqually Glacier filled this valley with ice.
When you are ready to resume, return the way you came or complete the counterclockwise loop; it’s the same distance either way.
Note: Although paved, this trail is not wheelchair-accessible, due to the stone staircase at the beginning. Alternatively, the trail can be accessed from the upper parking lot via connector trails. For that route, obtain a free copy of the “Paradise Area Trails” map from the Longmire Wilderness Information Center or Paradise Visitor Center.
WTA Pro Tip: This is a great winter snowshoe when the mountain above Paradise is clouded in. Simply follow the bright orange flags and poles for a delightful little loop.
Nisqually Vista Loop
- 1.1 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 200 feet
- Highest Point
- 5400 feet
Hiking Nisqually Vista Loop
Nisqually Vista Loop
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.7848, -121.7415 Open in Google Maps