Your Guide to Hiking in Mount Rainier

Anyone that enjoys hiking will be impressed by the great number of awesome trails that can be found on Mount Rainier. At 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is one of the most challenging mountains to climb in the US, but you will find that there are countless trails of varying levels that can offer just as much fun and excitement.
Of course, a mountain of this size will have many different areas, and each one has a fantastic set of trails for every level of hiker. This guide will explore the best areas and each of the top trails found in each.

Longmire Area Paradise Area Sunrise Area Carbon River Area Ohanapecosh Area

Hiking in Mount Rainier’s Longmire Area

Taking a look at the best trails found in the Longmire area of Mount Rainier, you will find here nice wildflowers hikes, which are also easy enough for the unexperienced hikers as well as some steep trails reserved to the best trained among us:

Trail of Shadows Rampart Ridge Trail Eagle Peak Kautz Creek

Trail of Shadows

The Trail of Shadows is ideal for beginners looking to get a taste of what hiking in Mount Rainier can offer.

This relatively short trail shouldn’t take more than an hour, and the fact that it is a looped trail makes it that bit easier to navigate through, although there a plenty of signs to keep you right.

Expect to find many great sights on this trail, including a marshes, ponds, meadows, and amazing mineral springs. There is also a hotel and various lodges and cabins that are well worth checking out.

 

Rampart Ridge Trail

Rampart Ridge Trail offers a more challenging hike, although when compared to many other trails in the area its difficulty can be considered moderate. Hiking from the clockwise trail on the Trail of Shadows will take you to the steeper beginnings of this trail, but it can be a welcome warmup for the main challenge! The trail itself is on the steeper side of things, but the surrounding forest land helps to keeps things cool as you ascend the 1.7 miles required to hit Longmire Viewpoint. You can end your trail here and head back the way you came, or opt to continue through to Wonderland Trail that will take you back to Longmire – it will be longer but you will see some gorgeous sights along the way! Wildflowers and plant life can be found in abundance on this trail, including Calypso orchids, huckleberry, bear grass, sword ferns, oak fern and the odd trillium too.

Mount Rainier Tours from Seattle

Mt Rainier Day Trip  Mt Rainier Day Tour  Small-Group Tour with Lunch Private Mt Rainier Day Tour

On this full-day tour of Washington state’s Mt Rainier, you’ll visit the majestic 14,411-foot (4,392-m) volcano and learn about the area from your informative guide. You’ll also explore local treasures like lakes and waterfalls en route from Seattle to Mt Rainier. Nature lovers won’t want to miss this!

Of all the mountains that surround Seattle, Mt Rainier stands the boldest. Appreciate the beauty of Mt Rainier on this full-day tour from Seattle. On clear days, you can see the mountain from downtown, but to grasp its full grandeur and magnificence, you must see it up close!

Admire close-up views of Mt Rainier’s snow capped peak, one of Seattle’s most iconic sights, on this full-day nature tour. See glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife in Mt Rainier National Park with a naturalist guide, and get a vivid sense of the mountain’s beauty while walking or snowshoeing.

On this private tour, take a scenic drive through the old-growth evergreen forests of America’s 5th-oldest national park, affording views of sparkling lakes, flower meadows and massive glaciers. Stop along the way to view wildlife and take photos and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy amidst the scenery.
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Eagle Peak Hiking Trail

Eagle PeakFor more seasoned outdoors people and hikers, Eagle Peak Hiking Trail can provide a quieter and less crowded alternative to the busier trails found in Longmire.

Fair warning though, the climb is not for the faint-hearted, but making the ascent will provide you with a truly incredible view and many fantastic sights along the way.

Expect plenty of beautiful greenery on this trail, which starts out in a crowded forest with ample trees and plants, and there are even spur trails that can be followed to find streams and waterfalls, although these can be risky for the unprepared.

Further ahead you can expect to find rolling meadows filled with all sorts of wildflowers as the rocky peak approaches, and as the trail continues on you can find spectacular views of Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helen’s darting out about the surrounding forests and ridges.

Kautz Creek

Kautz CreekKautz Creek is another trail that is advised for more experienced hikers, and it is best enjoyed during the summer season, although it can be traversed at any point in the year – just be prepared for some snow during the winter months!

The trail beings with a relatively easy walk where you can catch a glimpse of the dry creek channel that Kautz Creek formally flowed into until changes in the landscape due to flooding forced it to move its course. You will find overlooks that offer intriguing views of the effects of this, with fallen trees, erode stream bank, and plenty of other debris.

Further on the trail becomes more challenging as you will make your ascent to the ranger station known as Indian Henrys. It is heavily forested so there are plenty of great points of interest on the steep trail, and will eventually revert into meadows with views of surrounding mountains as you approach Indian Henrys.

Hiking in Mount Rainier’s Paradise Area

The Paradise Area of Mount Rainier is home to countless wildflowers that decorate the landscape with vibrancy and beauty during the summer months – it is where it gets the name paradise! Hiking here in the blooming season is an experience worth having.

Nisqually Vista Trail Skyline Trail Camp Muir Trail Alta Vista Trail Bench and Snow Lakes Trail Golden Gate Trail

Nisqually Vista Trail

The Nisqually Vista Trail is best enjoyed during the spring and summer months as it is when the stunning wild flowers are in bloom, and they are truly a beautiful sight to behold.

The looped trail is easy for beginners so it’s ideal for families. There are many different routes where you can view wild flowers.

They bloom at various times each year, but you can expect to find avalanche and glacier lilies, Western pasqueflowers, heather, valerian, marsh marigolds, and Rosy Spirea to name a few.

 

Skyline Trail

The Skyline Trails is another great trail for catching these various wildflowers on your way to Panorama Point, but you can also get glimpse of different types of landscapes beyond the lazy meadows, including forested area and snowfields.

Flowers line the trails at most points and are the clear attraction for this trail, with every colour imaginable being found in the sprawling meadows of wildflowers.

 

 

Camp Muir Trail

Camp MuirThe Camp Muir Trail represents one of the toughest challenges a hiker could hope to find before it can be classified as climbing! This is why many seasoned hikers love the challenge of making it to the top Camp Muir at the end of the trail, but beware, the conditions can change quickly and won’t be for the faint-hearted!

It begins in the Skyline Trail, so you get a nice calm start with views of gorgeous wildflowers. Then things become much steeper before rock, ice, and snow begins to dominate the landscape of the trail, so be sure to pack the correct hiking gear!

Alta Vista Trail

This trail offers a truly stunning view of the surrounding landscape of Mount Rainier, including Sluiskin Falls, Pinnacle Peak, Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens and even Mount Rainier itself.

It is a busier trail especially in summer, but it can actually make the experience that bit better to see so many people enjoying the stunning natural landscape of Paradise.

Alta Vista is also an easy going trail that can be enjoyed by hikers of all levels, so it can be great place for a family hike. Numerous trails can be followed here, and doing so during summer provides the best views of the wildflowers in bloom, including lupine, bistort, valerian, magenta paintbrush, and asters.

Bench and Snow Lakes Trail

An up and down trail of moderate difficulty that offers breath-taking views if the surrounding mountains and two gorgeous alpine lakes makes the Bench and Snow Lakes Trail well worth your time.

This trail is best suited for early summer mornings, as it provides the best conditions to catch the views of the turquoise lakes along the trail, both of which are a sight to behold and worth the effort of finding.

You can even catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier as well, which makes the perfect backdrop for the stunning views of Bench Lake and Snow Lake.

 

Golden Gate Trail

Golden Gate TrailGolden Gate Trail offers some wonderful views throughout the year, as the beautiful makeup of the area changes with each passing season. With beautiful summer meadows, vibrant fall colours of fall, and the perfect white snows of winter.
The trail burst with the colours of summer wildflowers looking to bloom before the cold winter snow approaches, and there are many great viewpoints worth checking out along easy hiking trail.

Myrtle Falls is easily the best of these, providing a stunning view of Myrtle Creek with the towering Mount Rainier rising above behind, and you also get a view of a waterfall cascading below, not to mention rolling meadows that help add some wonderful emerald-green colour to an already breath-taking viewpoint.

Hiking in Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Area

An area of stunning natural beauty, the Sunrise part of Mount Rainier National Park is home to one of the most popular hiking trails within the park – the Wonderland Trail. From easy walking paths to rocky climbs, glaciers and amazing panoramic views, there are plenty of attractions dotting the trails of Mount Rainier’s Sunrise area.

Sourdough Ridge Mount Fremont Lookout Burroughs Mountains Skyscraper Pass Berkeley Park Wonderland Trail

Sourdough Ridge

Sourdough RidgeThe trail provides a gentle slope for hiking along the Sourdough Ridge, and flanked by lovely meadows and fragrant subalpine forests. It leads to the highest point of the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park that is accessible via car.

As you might expect, this ridge trail offers some truly wondrous views of Mount Rainier and the valleys and meadows below, which includes Yakima Park – home to sprawling green lawns and an abidance of wildlife such as deer and marmots.

Other views along the ridge, which is suitable for most levels of hikers, includes Emmons Glacier and White River, Mount Stuart, Mount Baker, Mount Adams, Grand Park and Clover Lake. Be sure to bring a camera with views like these!

Mount Fremont Lookout

While a moderately difficult trail, finding your way to Mount Fremont Lookout provides a unique experience where you get to see a fire lookout up close and personal (not to mention the amazing view it offers), but there are any other great mountain views along the way that make this trail well worth the effort.

Views of Mount Rainier, the Cascade Range, and expanses of green forests and subalpine tundra ensures some fantastic views as you make your way to two story lookout tower that offers the best view of them all.

 

Burroughs Mountains

Burroughs MountainThe Burroughs Mountains trail offers one of the more unique hiking trails in Mount Rainier with its mainly tundra terrain being a real sight to behold – but this does make it a little riskier hike, especially for beginners!

There are actually three Burroughs Mountains along this trail, all of which can be reached in the one hike if you feel you have the strength to complete them.

The climbs are mostly on rocky terrain, but the ascents are steady enough for most to manage.

 

Skyscraper Pass

Skyscraper Pass is a ridge trail that leads to Skyscraper Peak, which happens to offer one of the best views in all of Sunrise, and it is one of the easier summits to reach in the area.

The main trail follows a ridgeline that has great views of Mount Rainier and Burroughs Mountain.

After and up and down trail, you will reach a five-way junction where you can opt to go for the Skyscraper Peak if you are up to it.

Those that do can expect some stunning views of White River Valley, the meadows of Berkeley Park, Mystic Lake, Grand Park, and views of a number of different peaks in the area.

Berkeley Park

Starting at the Sourdough Ridge Trail, hikers can take a left turn to make their way down the hike trail to Berkeley Park – that’s right, it’s a downhill hike!

As the trail heads into Berkeley Park it will become a flatter route with gorgeous meadows that have gorgeous flowers that are ever changing from week-to-week.

Then you will happen across Lodi Creek and its beautiful waterfall, and an even larger abundance of magnificent wildflowers populating the meadows.

 

Wonderland Trail

The Wonderland Trail offers one of the most all-encompassing trails for seeing the majority of Mount Rainier National Park, but it is not for the light-hearted and is only advised for experienced hikers as the trail totals 93 miles so will take around 10 to 14 days to complete.

You do get to see much of what the area has to offer however, with meadows and wildflowers, lowland forests, and rushing rivers.

It circles around Mount Rainier and allows for the chance to catch a look at it the mountain from many different areas, meaning you can view the various faces of the mountain and the glaciers cloaking it.

 

Hiking in Mount Rainier’s Carbon River Area

Unique hiking experiences, amazing views, lakes and creeks… this is what you can expect from the hiking trails in the Carbon River area of Mount Rainier National Park.

Green Lake Trail Chenuis Falls Trail Bearhead Mountain Carbon Glacier Trail

Green Lake Trail

Green Lake trailThe Green Lake Trail is a fine place to take kids and offers some great views of ancient forestry and beautiful waterfalls. It is also possible to cycle on this trail too.

It’s the towering, ancient trees that make this trail so worthwhile, with tall firs, cedars, and hemlocks all a sight to behold as you make your way through the forests.

There is also a lake that can be discovered if you make your way up Carbon River Valley and head beneath Tolmie Peak.

 

Chenuis Falls Trail

This trail takes you across the Carbon Riverbed after emerging from the lush forests of the Carbon River Road, and following Chenuis Falls trail will eventually see you find the base of the waterfall and itself, which is an ideal location to unwind and relax for a few hours after the relatively easy hike.

The trail will take you through some forested area before happening across the waterfall itself, although the various spur trails can take you down a different route for another view of the waterfall before you reach it.

 

 

Bearhead Mountain

Mount BakerThe Bearhead Mountain trail is definitely one of the more strenuous in this area, but this just means it offers the chance of a brilliant workout!

Along the way to the summit of the trail you will pass endless meadows that are teeming with colour during the summer months, as well as hiking through primeval forests with towering trees before coming across smaller subalpine trees.

The summit has some incredible views of Mount Rainier’s Great North Wall, and you might also catch a look at Mt Baker or Mt Stuart if the weather is good enough.

 

Carbon Glacier Trail

Mowich LakeA hiking trail that offers the sight of a glacier in action is one that should always be taken advantage of, which is why the Carbon Glacier Trail is one of the best to use in this area.

The trail follows the upstream route of the Carbon River before passing through a lush forest area that will lead you on a trail up above the rushing river. Eventually you will be given your first glimpse of the glacier which remains a few miles upstream, before taking you back through more forests.

After crossing the river, you will find the trail takes a steep ascent, passing by smooth cliff faces that have been carved out by the glacier itself before taking you out to a stunning viewpoint of the glacier, which is sight to behold and well worth the effort of hiking to!

 

Hiking in Mount Rainier’s Ohanapecosh Area

Silver Falls Grove of the Patriarchs Eastside Trail Cowlitz Divide Shriner Peak Trail Laughingwater Creek Trail

Silver Falls

Silver Falls is an incredible 40-foot waterfall that cascaded down into a blue pool below. Getting there is simple enough using the shortest trail available, but hikers will likely appreciate all the great views on the way from the Ohanapecosh Visitors Center.

This loop trial is still easy enough to get through and the fact you come across an old hot spring resort, plenty of towering trees, and a number of creeks and river crossings before making it to Silver Falls. There are many great viewpoints to catch a look at the waterfall, but be sure to keep safe and stay behind the railings as the area can get slippery!

Grove of the Patriarchs

Grove of the PatriarchsThe name of this trail alone makes it intriguing enough to visit, and as anyone that has hiked this trail can say, it is even more magical than it sounds!

It really feels like something out of a fantasy world, with gargantuan trees on an island in the middle of the Ohanapecosh river, and the fact that it is a simple trail to hike should give even more incentive to discover this amazing area

Some of the trees you pass here are over 1,000 years old and will be like nothing you have seen before, with some having a circumference of over 50ft! This is due to their location on an isolated island on the river which has kept them unharmed for the most part, allowing them to reach incredible sizes.

Cowlitz Divide

Cowlitz DivideCowlitz Divide offers one of the best views in this area, and while the hike is strenuous, reaching the end location will be more than worth it. The overlook is found on a knoll that reaches close to 6,000ft, and will take several hours to reach, passing through various forests and meadows as you reach it.

The view is simply breath-taking here however. Mount Rainier appears through the forests as you come out onto Cowlitz Divide and will fully reveal itself in all its beauty upon reaching the wide knoll.

Look out for views of Ohanapecosh River, Shriner Peak, and Bald’s Knob and take the time for a bite to eat – at this point you will be turning back the way you came, so make sure you get the most of it while you are there!

Laughingwater Creek Trail

Laughingwater CreekThe Laughingwater Creek Trail doesn’t really offer much of a view of the creek it was named after, but there is still lots to enjoy on this strenuous trail. It starts of on the steep side of things, but there are various ups and downs throughout the trail.

You will come across many great sights along the way, from the vine maples that would be a wonder to look at during fall to the marshy pond that provides water to many of the natural wildlife of the area – you may even catch a glimpse of an elk on the trail here!

Beyond the early areas of the trial you will find the landscape alternates between meadows and forest areas, with some impressive species of tree to be found, such as Alaska cedars and Douglas firs.

Eventually you will come across The Three Lakes and the ranger cabin nestle atop the ridge above the first two lakes, with the third one laying further ahead in the trail.

Shriner Peak Trail

This trail offers a quiet hike that will reward you with a great view from its peak, and it is certainly one of the more underrated trails in the area. It can get dry and dusty following the trail to Shriner Peak, but reaching it offers quite the reward.

You will reach an old wooden lookout tower that is rarely used, and beyond that there are views that will leave you breathless. Mount Rainier can be seen from here, as can the Cascades, Mt. Adams, the Goat Rocks, Mt. St. Helens, Little Tahoma, and the Ohanapecosh Valley below.

Getting there can be a bit strenuous, and you will need to hike though several miles of forests of cedars, firs, and hemlocks. Things will get a bit rockier as you close in on the grassy peak, so be sure to watch your step!

Eastside Trail

Anyone that is seeking a long yet quiet trail needn’t look further than Eastside. It’s made up of various trailheads and access points, so it can be tackled in a number of ways, including hiking different sections of the 13-mile trail.

There are many great views along this trail, from ancient forests to alpine meadows, and there are a fair few waterfalls and creeks worth visiting too. Arranging a shuttle to the top of the trail allows for an easy one-way hike downhill.