This page is a supplement to
Adventure Guide to Mount Rainier and the
12 Short Hikes guides to Mount Rainier, and will include links to Park Service resources, trail data, trip reports, and photographs of the many wonderful hikes, scrambles, climbs, and winter trips in
Mount Rainier National Park. If you would like to order one of these guides, please go to the Books page for ordering information.
There are over 300 miles of maintained trails in Mount Rainier National Park. I've listed some of my
favorite hikes here, and links to some Park Service resources, trip reports, and pictures of hiking at Mount Rainier. Some of these
hikes are not listed in Adventure Guide to Mount Rainier
but appear in one of my Short Hikes
guides. If you have a favorite
hike at Mount Rainier that is not listed here and want to submit a photo, trip report, or link, please let me know
I have only done this hike in the winter (twice now) so I can't tell you about the wide-open meadows or wildflowers on the ridge portion of the hike, but I can tell you that
this hike has some awe-inspiring views of Mount Rainier, and leads to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, one of the park's premier subalpine meadows.
I can also say it is a great snowshoe hike, especially in early season before the bridge is buried in snow and the trail can still be followed to the high meadows.
LINK: Kautz Creek Trail
This is a fairly short hike to a fairly fantastic waterfall that drops some 300 feet straight down a cliff. This is best done later in the summer, after snow has melted out
of the canyon. If you come too early you'll be hiking on snow and crossing avalanche slopes.
LINK: Comet Falls Trail
LINK: Comet Falls Photos
LINK: PI Getaways Article
When I bring out-of-town guests for a hike at Mount Rainier, this is where I bring them. Skyline Trail is a great loop hike out of Paradise, ascending the upper section of Mazama Ridge and steep, rocky slopes to Panorama Point, then looping back down to Paradise. Best done in late
summer; early on you'll be traversing exposed snow slopes. This hike can be done as part of a longer loop hike including part of the Lakes Trail and Mazama Ridge Trail. Incredible
wildflower blooms in the meadows, frequent deer and bear sightings, lakes, waterfalls, and views of the mountain.
LINK: Skyline Trail
A fairly short hike leading from Reflection Lakes up to Pinnacle Saddle. It's a climb, but mercifully short. A way trail leads on to the summit of Plummer Peak, a great
viewpoint. A scrambling route leads to the top of Pinnacle Peak, but it is not recommended for hikers due to loose rock and exposed climbing.
LINK: Pinnacle Peak Trail
Bench and Snow Lakes are another short hike close to Paradise. The trail is mostly flat, with only a short, stiff uphill section, and it has
impressive views of Mount Rainier and the Tatoosh Range. A very pretty fall hike.
LINK: Snow and Bench Lakes Trail
Grove of the Patriarchs
This short hike leads through some of the oldest old-growth forest in Washington. Some of those firs and cedars are really, really big.
LINK: Grove of the Patriarchs Trail
A beautiful subalpine meadow on the slopes of Little Tahoma Peak. I've only hiked through here once while on a circuit of the Wonderland Trail, but it was gorgeous.
I can only imagine how it must have been when the wildflowers were in full bloom.
LINK: Summerland Trail
Mount Fremont Lookout
One of the best hikes out of Sunrise, leading to a lookout cabin near the summit of Mount Fremont. Panoramic views of the northern parkland, including Grand Park,
Berkely Park, Yakima Park, and up to Mount Rainier. There's a good chance you'll see goats on this hike.
LINK: Mount Fremont Trail
Spray-Seattle Park Loop
Here's a loop hike that doesn't show up in any guidebook, but it is a great 18-mile loop that can be done as a long day hike or in two or three days. I did it in a
day, starting from Mowich Lake and hiking up through Spray Park, which gets my vote as the loveliest subalpine meadow in the park, all things considered. From Spray
Park, I hiked over the divide and down through Seattle Park to Carbon River, then down Carbon River Trail to the Ipsut Creek Trail junction, and up Ipsut Creek to the
Tolmie Peak Trail junction. As a variation, I hiked up Tolmie Peak and back, adding a couple of miles, then hiked the last bit to finish the loop at Mowich Lake. I would recommend this
as a good overnight hike.
LINK: Spray Park Trail
This is a 32-mile loop hike through some of the loneliest parkland in Mount Rainier National Park. Aside from a few hardy backpackers, the segment of the trail between
Windy Gap and Grand Park is seldom traveled. The hike has some steep ups and downs, and you can't see Mount Rainier for half of the hike, but the lack of other hikers
is a plus if you are looking for some solitude. Lots of great campsites along the way.
LINK: Northern Loop Trail
A scenic summit just north of Mowich Lake. The trail passes Eunice Lake, then climbs a subalpine meadow slope to the lookout tower, from where the views are fantastic.
LINK: Tolmie Peak Trail
The Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile trail around Mount Rainier, one of the best long hikes in the Cascade Range, and
right up there with the best hikes in the world. Many hikers do the Wonderland Trail in segments; others do it as a
continuous loop. I've done it both ways, and definitely recommend doing it all at once.
Read my trip report
LINK: Wonderland Trail
LINK: Wonderland Trail Trip Report
Mount Rainier National Park has a number of popular cross-country hikes and alpine scrambles, and some that
the Park Service prefers we don't talk about. I've listed a few of my favorites here, along with links to
some trip reports and pictures. Some of these scrambles are listed in more detail in Climbing Washington's Mountains
Mount Wow is a scenic scramble in the southwest corner of the park. Walter Siegmund posted a trip report
website, with photos. Apparently the fishermens' trail to Lake Allen has gone wild, but the route doesn't seem too bad without it. The route in via the West Boundary Trail is probably more difficult.
A route in via Gobblers Knob seems feasible.
This is a very popular scramble, especially with tourist hikers who are not detered by loose rock and exposure. The Park Service prefers that casual hikers
not climb it, due to rockfall hazard and exposure, but that doesn't stop them. This scramble can be combined with The Castle and Plummer Peak. A more-detailed
route description is found in Climbing Washington's Mountains
LINK: Phil's Trip Report
LINK: Trip Report
Another popular climb of the highest peak in the Tatoosh Range. Long considered a Class 3 scramble, but the summit pinnacle is exposed Class 5, so bring a rope and
some gear. More information about this climb can be found in Climbing Washington's Mountains
LINK: Matt Robertson's Trip Report
Tatoosh Range Traverse
A high traverse crossing the Tatoosh Range. Most do it from west to east, starting up Eagle Peak Trail and then traversing eastward as far as
Pinnacle Peak. A complete traverse of the range, including scrambling up every peak along the way, is quite a challenge. I haven't done this
traverse, but the climbers I've talked to who have done it think it's great.
A day "hike" up the Muir Snowfield to 10,000-foot-high Camp Muir, basecamp for most of the climbing attempts on Mount Rainier. A lot of people hike up to
Camp Muir and then ski back to Paradise. It's a good workout. Take heed of the Park Service's warnings about routefinding and compass bearings; a lot of
hikers and skiers have become lost here in bad weather.
LINK: Camp Muir Route Description
The route over Knapsack Pass is a well-traveled shortcut into Spray Park, popular with climbers and adventuresome hikders.
This "cross-country" route follows a well-established trail all the way from Mowich Lake to Knapsack Pass, then it's scree and tundra hiking across
Mist Park and over a ridge into Spray Park. A climb to the summit of Mount Pleasant is an easy side trip.
A summit of sorts above Spray Park that is a popular climbing objective. The route isn't technically difficult unless you choose the ice slope on the north side.
Summit views are fantastic. The route is described in detail in Climbing Washington's Mountains
LINK: Michael Stanton's Trip Report
LINK: Flett Glacier Ice Trip Report
I haven't done this traverse yet, but it looks like a fun cross-country route linking Carbon River with Mowich Lake via Florence and Tolmie Peaks. It looks to be
a reasonably good winter route as well, with only one avalanche slope to avoid.
Chapter Seven of Adventure Guide to Mount Rainier
describes 24 routes to the summit of Mount Rainier and 3 routes to the summit of Little Tahoma Peak.
The Disappointment Cleaver and Emmons Glacier routes are described in more detail in Climbing Washington's Mountains
and Climbing The Cascade Volcanoes
Additional information about climbing Mount Rainier, and about the various climbing routes, is available from the following resources.
Disappointment Cleaver Route
This route begins from Paradise and is the most popular route up Mount Rainier.
LINK: Virtual DC Route
LINK: Eric Hoffman's Trip Report
LINK: Eric Hoffman's Second Trip Report
LINK: Eric Hoffman's Third Trip Report
LINK: Route Description and Photos
LINK: Trip Report of Guided Ascent
LINK: Matt Simerson's DC Photos
Emmons Glacier Route
This route begins from White River Campground and is the second most-popular route up Mount Rainier.
LINK: Gordon Schryer's Trip Report
Liberty Ridge Route
Liberty Ridge is the distinct ridge dividing the north wall of Mount Rainier. It is one of the classic climbs in North America according to various sources, and
is one of the most popular "technical" routes up Mount Rainier.
LINK: Route Description and Links
Little Tahoma Peak
At 11,138 feet elevation, Little Tahoma is the fifth-highest summit in Washington, but it doesn't seem to get much respect. It has a couple of fairly easy glacier climbs to the top,
although the last bit to the summit is very loose, very exposed rock, so scary that the Mountaineers give credit for climbing the peak even if you stop short of the summit.
LINK: Trip Report of Guided Ascent
LINK: Picture of Little Tahoma
There are abundant winter recreation opportunities at Mount Rainier, including many cross-country ski trails, snowshoe hikes,
and backcountry skiing. Avalanche hazard is high in places. I've listed a few of my favorites, as well as links to Park Service
resources, trip reports, and photos of several others.
A winter hike to the top of Mount Ararat makes for a challenging day trip. Follow Kautz Creek Trail as far as you can; getting across the bridge can be a
challenge when it is snow covered and icy. Once across, the trail climbs up a wooded ridge to a flat area just north of TumTum Peak, then starts up the ridge
toward Indian Henry's Hunting Ground. Routefinding may be difficult here; you want to stay on the east side of the ridge to avoid a narrow, rocky crest, but
if you miss the turn you end up on the wrong side overlooking Mount Wow. If you picked the route correctly, you end up in a snow basin below a rocky point,
then climb a brief slope to reach the wide open slopes of Mount Ararat. Ascend to the divide above Indian Henry's, then go left up the ridge to the indistinct
summit. I didn't encounter much avalanche hazard on this trip, although there are a couple of slopes that could slide under the right conditions. At 10 miles
round trip, it is a long day hike for a short winter day. Early winter is best for this one, so you can still follow the trail part of the way.
Panorama Point is a challenging snowshoe hike or ski trip. The route is straightforward, climbing up through the meadows above Paradise, around the west side of
Alta Vista, to the slopes below Panorama Point. There is a huge avalanche slope on the west side; resist the urge to climb directly up. The "safe" route climbs the
ridge, which is steep and exposed at first, and not entirely safe. Once past the initial steep section, the route continues up moderate snow slopes to the "summit"
of Panorama Point. There used to be a big cairn here, but it was removed, so now it may take awhile to find the highest point. I've seen telemark skiers descending the slopes east
of here to Paradise Glacier; that looks like quite a ride! Some continue from here up to Camp Muir and ski down. In whiteout conditions, this is a dangerous place to ski; many
skiers have gone the wrong way and skied off a cliff or onto Nisqually Glacier. Even hikers can get disoriented here in poor weather.
This trip is not in the guide, but is a fun snowshoe or ski trip from Paradise. The route follows the approximate line of Skyline Trail and Paradise Glacier Trail
to the Paradise Glacier, traverses the glacier to near its head, then climbs snow slopes to the crest of Cowlitz Rocks, elevation 7,450 feet.
There may be avalanche hazard on the final slopes and on the glacier, but otherwise the route is fairly protected. The flat terrain below Paradise Glacier
can be very difficult to navigate in whiteout conditions; hikers and skiers have become lost here. Beware of cornices on the summit ridge; there is a big
dropoff on the east side of the ridge. Great views of Mount Rainier, Little Tahoma Peak, and the surrounding parkland.
Here's a picture of snowshoe tracks
on the way to Cowlitz Rocks.
A fun forest hike and easy scramble. The route I did traversed over Sweet Peak, climbing a steep wooded slope with Class 4 dirt and root climbing, then up the ridge to Florence Peak. I found the popular route on the way out.
The topo in the guidebook isn't accurate. I did this trip just before the book went to press and sent in a better topo
, but the editors didn't bother to put it in.
If you go in early winter, before snow has accumulated enough to avalanche, the route over Knapsack Pass to Spray Park is a fun hike. I did this in December one year without snowshoes. I rode and pushed my bike up the road and Grindstone Trail (and got
a lecture from a park ranger for taking my bike on the trail even though I wasn't riding it) to Mowich Lake, then hiked up over Knapsack Pass and across Mist Park to Mount Pleasant, then looped out via the trail back to Mowich Lake. The bike ride down to
the park entrance was fun, especially since the wet snow made the brakes slippery. Yeeha!
MOUNT RAINIER RESOURCES
Here are some links to park resources, to help you plan your next trip to Mount Rainier, check on weather, get a permit, and so on.
Mount Rainier National Park Official Web Site
Climbing Photos and Trip Reports
Hiking and Climbing
Mount Rainier Links
Climbing Washington's Mountains
Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes
Rock Climbing Washington