Imagine that you are looking through a telephoto lens at one of those iconic images of Mount Rainier taken from the south. Now zoom out to a wider view of the entire mountain, the thick forests below timberline, the enormous brown gash of the Nisqually River Valley, and beside it the verdant parkland that became known as Paradise. This is the view from the Pinnacle Saddle trail.
Start out from the signed trailhead across the road from the largest Reflection Lake. The trail climbs moderately through sparse forest, affording a partial view of Mount Rainier at half a mile. At 0.6 mile, a seasonal stream may provide water. Then at 0.7 mile, the trail breaks out into the open for good.
Continue upward, now on rocky trail the rest of the way. It’s slightly steeper but always wide enough when clear of snow. Pass beneath some impressive cliffs at 0.9 mile to a short switchback at 1 mile. On a clear day, this is the best view along the entire trail. You can see the network of paths throughout Paradise, and maybe plan your next hike from this grand view of several possibilities.
But don’t stop now; you can tell where the saddle is and it beckons you the last quarter mile. Finally, at 1.25 miles step through the portal that is Pinnacle Saddle to a view of open meadows, falling away steeply, with Mount Adams prominent in the distance. The meadows are a part of the protected Butter Creek Research Natural Area. To the left and right are climber’s trails to nearby peaks. Enjoy the views then return the way you came.
- 2.5 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 1,000 feet
- Highest Point
- 5,920 feet
Hiking Pinnacle Saddle
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.7683, -121.7314 Open in Google Maps