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Tatoosh Lookout

South Cascades

The lookout is gone, but the stunning views remain. To the north is Mount Rainier with a turquoise tarn and rugged rock ridges in the foreground. A clear day reveals three other volcanos to the south and west. Continue reading

Location

South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
Jump to Map & Directions

Length

10.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 4100 ft.
Highest Point: 6400 ft.

Rating

3.67 out of 5

(6 votes) Log in to rate
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Ridges/passes
  • Old growth
  • Summits

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

WTA worked here in 2020 and 2019!

From the north trailhead for Tatoosh Trail 161, climb 2.5 miles to the signed junction with Tatoosh Lakes Trail 161B. Bypass it, contouring with minor ups and downs along steeply sloped meadows for another two miles. There is a rock slide area at 3.6 miles that may require a short but easy enough detour, unless lingering snow presents a problem.

At 4.5 miles is a junction with a hairpin switchback signed “Trail 161A. Tatoosh Peak”. This is the route to the former lookout site. Switchback sharply to the left and begin climbing due north on it.

The 0.7 mile spur trail is somewhat rutted and can be windy once you are on the exposed ridge. This very same exposed ridge is very popular with photographers when it is carpeted with wildflowers. As you crest the final few feet, every step enlarges your view of Mount Rainier. From the former lookout site at 6400 feet, a turquoise tarn is visible below the north side, providing a photogenic foreground for that impressive volcano. On a clear day, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount St. Helens are also visible, scanning from south to southwest.

Hike by WTA Correspondents
Ken Giesbers

Tatoosh Lookout

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7131, -121.7159 Open in Google Maps

Trailhead

South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley

Tatoosh (#161), Tatoosh Peak (#161A)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Getting There

From the eastern end of Packwood, turn north from Highway 12 onto Skate Creek Road S. After four miles, turn right on gravel road FR 5270. The road is little more than one lane wide, and has numerous potholes. At 9.7 miles from U.S. 12, bear right at the ‘Y’ and continue to the trailhead sign “Tatoosh Trail 161” at 11.1 miles.

A wide shoulder provides parking for about a dozen vehicles. The trailhead kiosk provides the required self-serve Wilderness Permit, but there are no other amenities. This is known as the north trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Tatoosh Lookout

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