Trails to Hike in Mount Rainier National Park

By Craig Romano July 19, 2012 Published in the August 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Trails Everyone Loves

Burroughs Mountain

Above the trees and in the tundra, these ridges resemble a moonscape. Besides the First, Second, and Third Burroughs mountains, hikers can sometimes see avalanches on Rainier’s flanks. The catcalls coming from the rocks? They’re marmot whistles. 7 Miles; Sunrise  

Grove of the Patriarchs

The granddaddy of interpretive trails is a gentle saunter through a patch of hemlocks, cedars, and Douglas firs as ancient as 1,000 years old. The old dudes are so big—some are 50 feet in diameter—and can be viewed from a boardwalk trail that starts just past a not-too-swingy suspension bridge. 1.1 Miles; Near Ohanapecosh

Rampart Ridge 

Among the first trail loops to be snow free, this ridge offers the best seat in the house when the mountain is out. Switchback up to an overlook of Longmire, then look for a rocky clearing about a half mile later—it’s like a booster seat to a Rainier panorama. 4.6 Miles; Longmire

Skyline Trail/Panorama Point 
The start of this uphill slog is paved, all the better to preserve the lush subalpine meadows. Climbers heading to Camp Muir will share the trail until the day hikers curve up some 1,500 feet above Paradise, then down past waterfalls at the end of the loop. The views of the craggy Tatoosh Range are spectacular from Panorama Point, but so is the fact that there’s a remote solar-powered bathroom built into the mountain. 5.5 Miles Paradise 

Naches Peak Loop 
One of the few to straddle the National Park boundary, this trail winds around Highway 410 to Yakima. The moderately strenuous loop provides killer mountain views when done clockwise, and huckleberry bushes are heavy with fruit in late summer. 3.4 Miles CHINOOK PASS



Cowlitz Divide
A lack of vistas, meadows, and lakes leads most hikers to overlook this route. But the primeval forest is grand, perfect for quiet contemplation and sighting wild critters. Pitch a tent at Olallie Creek for a night under the ancient forest canopy. 8.6 Miles  NEAR OHANAPECOSH

Eagle Peak
This 2,955-foot climb is more intimidating than the popular Pinnacle Peak, another snowy summit in the serrated Tatoosh Range south of Paradise. But the grade is moderate to this saddle, and it offers a dizzying overlook of the Nisqually Valley with in-your-face views of the mountain. 7.2 Miles LONGMIRE


Forest Lake
Deer and marmots are usually the only company at this placid little alpine lake, cradled in a remote basin beneath the rocky cliffs of Mount Fremont. The 1,200-foot drop from Sourdough Ridge keeps the crowds away. 5.2 Miles SUNRISE

Silver Forest Trail
Most hikers flock toward the mountain, but this near-level trail meanders east from Sunrise. The sun-bleached branches are bare because of a long-ago fire, but the ghost forest is now carpeted with wildflowers. Across the deep White River Valley is an excellent view of the Emmons Glacier. 1.6 Miles SUNRISE

Tahoma Creek Trail
Walk the washed-out Westside Road to a trail also prone to rinsing away (and it’s not officially maintained). Traverse gravelly outwash along the cloudy Tahoma Creek—the glaciers make it that color—before heading up a steep hillside. Where the route joins the Wonderland Trail, an airy suspension bridge spans the creek. 6.5 Miles WESTSIDE ROAD 

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