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Nisqually Vista Loop

Mount Rainier Area > SW - Longmire/Paradise
46.7848, -121.7415 Map & Directions
Length
1.1 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
200 feet
Highest Point
5400 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Good for kids

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

Follow the trails here to views of Mount Rainier's rocky Nisqually River valley and the much-receded Nisqually Glacier. Continue reading

Rating
3.82 out of 5

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Hiking Nisqually Vista Loop

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.

Hike Description Written by
Ken Giesbers, WTA Correspondent

Nisqually Vista Loop

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7848, -121.7415 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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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. 300 yards further is the Visitor Center and upper parking lot.

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)

Green Trails No. 270 - Mt Rainier East

Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Map and Guide

Earthwalk Press

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Nisqually Vista Loop

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