17 Best MT Rainier Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park

Do you want to hike Mt. Rainier and you are confused about that can you hike Mt. Rainier or not? Don’t worry; Mount Rainier is a popular hiking destination for experienced hikers and newcomers. There are roaring waterfalls, green wildflower valleys, mossy forests, sparkling alpine lakes, towering glaciers, and massive volcanoes, all of these elements of Mt. Rainer are making it a hiker’s Paradise.

Mount Rainier is a one-of-a-kind US national park known for possessing the most extensive alpine glacial system outside of Alaska and the world’s most powerful volcanic glacier cave system. Mt Rainier has several hiking paths for all skill levels and covers 369 square miles in Washington.

You know what not all the Mount Rainier hikes offer a view of Mount Rainier only, but also offer views of lakes, rivers, fire lookouts, adjacent mountains, and exciting waterfalls. However, with so many paths to climb in various sections of Mt Rainier, determining which treks are best for you to accomplish based on your time, schedule, and hiking skill can be difficult.

With that in mind, we’ll show you the best day hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park in an easy-to-understand and logical list format, so you can start arranging your perfect Mount Rainier hiking schedule right away. This is a lengthy read, but it is intended to provide you with all of the knowledge you will need to construct a hiking strategy for Mt Rainier. So let’s get started on Mt Rainier National Park’s most popular hiking trails!

17 Best Day Hikes in Mt Rainier Hikes:

There are several opportunities for all levels of skill and fitness to explore Mount Rainier’s spectacular natural splendor. Here are our top Mt. Rainer hikes recommendations, categorized by region, so you don’t end up with a longer-than-expected trip to a trek you adore.

Best Hikes in Sunrise, Northeast Mt Rainier:

1. Mount Fremont Lookout Trail-Best Mt Rainier Summit View:

Mt Fremont Lookout Trail is one of Mt Rainier’s most famous treks, and we believe it has the best summit vista in the park. However, we have to admit that the trail itself isn’t much to write home about until you get right up to the ridgeline, where the flat road snaking along on its approach to the fire lookout tower looks spectacular.

Mount Fremont Lookout Trail-Best Mt Rainier Summit View

The Fremont Fire Lookout is over 7,000 feet in elevation. However, because the Sunrise Visitors Center is already at the height of 6,300 feet, the round-trip journey comprises less than 1,000 feet of ascent. As a result, the route is an ideal starting point for non-disabled hikers wishing to obtain an excellent impression of the mountain.

However, after you reach the fire tower, the views are amazing, not only of Mt Rainier but also throughout Grand Park.

Visit the wooden fire tower, snap some photos, and spend some time on the rocks admiring some of Washington’s best 360-degree vistas. Mt Fremont is a popular morning walk, but it’s also an excellent place for astrophotographers to capture Milky Way photos at sunset and stars.

  • Distance:  5.7 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 1,100 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  3-5 hours
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Visitor Centre

2. Burroughs Mountain Trail:

Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail is ideal for people looking for a challenging hike with a high reward. There are three Burroughs to explore, appropriately named the first, second, and third. Because you’re 1.5 miles into the hike by the time you reach Frozen Lake, the best time to hike the Burroughs is either before or after Mt Fremont.

Burroughs Mountain Trail

Burroughs appears manageable from the Mt Fremont Trail, but they are challenging, windy, exposed, and difficult to maneuver. This is not to be taken lightly, especially if you plan to do Mt Fremont before or after.

The Burroughs Mountain Trail offers a close-up view of Mount Rainier’s northeast flank. The trail is accessible from the Sunrise parking lot, with a handful of different options available. The recommended route begins with a loop that heads clockwise from the parking area, first to Sunrise Camp.

  • Distance:  4.7 / 7 / 9.2 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: Up to 2,500 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  3-4 hours
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Parking lot

3. Glacier Basin Trail:

Glacier Basin follows a river that leads right to Mt Rainier from the White River campground. This is a beautiful walk with breathtaking vistas all along the way.

Glacier Basin Trail

The highlight of this journey, though, is a one-mile side trail that leads to views of Emmons Glacier and a lovely teal-colored lake. The glacier is Mount Rainier’s most giant ice sheet and the largest glacier in 48 states. Glacier Basin follows a river that leads right to Mt Rainier from the White River campground. This is a beautiful walk with breathtaking vistas all along the way.

Hikers on the converted trail to Glacier Basin are treated to spectacular vistas of Mount Rainier, as well as an optional side trek to a viewpoint of Emmons Glacier. Hikers are also treated to beautiful meadows, and woodlands cut out by the tumbling White River, even though there is little height gain, to begin with.

  • Distance:  7+ miles trip
  • Total Ascent: 1300ft+
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  4 hours
  • Trailhead:  Glacier Basin Trailhead

4. Summerland Trail:

Summerland Trail is a lengthy and challenging day trek. If you go as far as Panhandle Gap, you won’t be able to fit in many more hikes, but it is one of Mt Rainier’s most popular pathways.

Summerland Trail

Looking at Google Maps is the most perplexing aspect. The trailhead is called “Fryingpan Creek Trailhead,” It follows the Wonderland Trail for its whole length.

Summerland is named for the Summerland Meadows, which, if you’re lucky, will be covered in a sea of wildflowers after 4.5 kilometers of hiking (one way). This is a popular rest stop, but if you have the stamina and time, go to Panhandle Gap, which has excellent views.

Here you will see all of the area’s terrains, beginning in meadows and woodlands and crossing streams before reaching sheer rocky outcrops with excellent views of Mount Rainier.

Mountain goats adore the high rocky terrain; it’s a joy to sit and watch them climb and frolic; however, we were harassed by a male mountain goat with a significant case of toxic masculinity while hiking the Enchantments in Washington. He even headbutted our tent while we were inside – so keep your wits about you (and your distance) when they’re around!

  • Distance:  10.5 miles+ roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 2900ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  5-7 hours
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Park Road, the Trailhead is named “Summerland Trail” on Google Maps.

5. Naches Peak Loop Trail – Fantastic short Mt Rainier Hike:

The Naches Peak Loop Trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a fantastic short hike. This famous loop trail begins at Chinook Pass and spends half of its time on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The 3.5-mile roundtrip hike circumnavigates Naches Peak and offers breathtaking vistas of wildflower fields and Mount Rainier in the background.

Naches Peak Loop Trail - Fantastic short Mt Rainier Hike

It is a family-friendly, simple, and moderate trek in Mount Rainier, and the short loop provides an excellent introduction to hiking in Mount Rainier National Park.

We ascended this trail an hour or so before sunset, which was not the best time of day because the sun was straight overhead, searing Mt Rainier. As a result, getting the photos, we required proved challenging.

However, if you hike this trail clockwise to the halfway point (when the PCT swings toward Mt Rainier on the Naches Peak Loop Trail) just as the sun sets, you will be rewarded with some spectacular views.

Hike it during daybreak, when Mt Rainier’s eastern face will be illuminated orange and gold as you approach. The best aspect about this walk is that it ends at Tipsoo Lake, where you can enjoy the same breathtaking reflection views as the Tipsoo Lake Trail mentioned before.

  • Distance:  3.5 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 600 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Easy
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  2 hours
  • Trailhead: Tipsoo Lake
  • Best Hikes In Paradise, South Mt Rainier:

6. Skyline Trail – Most Popular Hike in Mt. Rainier:

This is the main attraction of hiking in Mt Rainier National Park, and we have to admit it’s a great hike. The views of Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, and even Mt Hood in Oregon from the Skyline Hike’s peak are not only stunning, but the hike itself is adventurous, varied, and engaging.

Skyline Trail - Most Popular Hike in Mt. Rainier

Yes, it is congested and crowded, but there are methods to avoid it. After daylight, we started to hike Skyline Trail, which was our top priority. As a result, we didn’t see another hiker until we got to the top because they came from the other side of the circle.

When we returned to Paradise, hundreds of hikers, including group excursions, were on their way up. The majority of hikers take this trail clockwise to get an excellent view of Mount Rainier on the way up.

But we choose to hike anti-clockwise to maximize our chances of having the path to ourselves. This is a challenging hike to take, but it is the one you should have on your priority list.

The nicest part about this trek is connecting to other hiking paths. If you turn around at Glacier Vista, you can cut the hike to roughly 3 miles roundtrip. You can cut it down to 5 miles if you turn around at Panorama Point, but the extra 0.5 mile is well worth it.

  • Distance:  5.5 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 1,700 ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours on the main trail
  • Trailhead: Maligne Trailhead (south) and Signal Trailhead (north). We recommend beginning the trail at Maligne Lake and ending at Signal.

Best Hikes in Ohanapecosh, Southeast Mt Rainier:

7. Silver Falls Loop:

The Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, located below the landmark Paradise Inn, is the starting point for this fantastic 4-mile round trip. The trail ascends 1,700 feet to a point well above the forest line. The Skyline Trail is the most incredible place to see Mount Rainier’s wildflowers in the summer.

Silver Falls Loop

Because it has a greater height than the Grove of the Patriarchs, this is an excellent climb for families with energetic or older children.

Several spur trails run around this region, making it simple to connect with Grove of the Patriarchs straight from Silver Falls Trail. You can even combine the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs with the Silver Falls walk.

We recommend that you complete as much hiking as you can here before leaving your parking area. It will be devoured in a flash!

  • Distance:  4 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 700 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Easy
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  1.5 – 3 hours
  • Trailhead: Ohanapecosh Visitor Centre

8. Grove of the Patriarchs:

The Grove of the Patriarchs Nature Trail is ideal for families. It’s a simple and flat climb with plenty of towering trees to admire, a delightful suspension bridge for youngsters, and riverside spur trails.

Grove of the Patriarchs

It has a fun suspension bridge, towering Douglas firs, and educational signage that teach you all you need to learn about the ecosystems.

When we hiked this path, it was crowded, and there was even a wait to cross the suspension bridge, so avoid noon on weekends if possible. The trail is well-marked and well-maintained, and it is quite photogenic, so bring your camera.

If you’re traveling on the weekend, arrive early because this is also the best time to explore the forest. Going during the week, especially early in the day, is preferable if you want to avoid crowds, although that is not always possible.

  • Distance:  1.3 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 50 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  30 minutes
  • Trailhead: Steven’s Canyon Road

9. Shriner Peak Lookout Trail:

Shriner Peak Lookout Trail is a must-see for more adventurous hikers or those collecting fire lookout towers. This is a very peaceful and difficult hike. It’s almost a hidden gem because you’ll almost certainly have the trail to yourself. Perhaps it’s because it rises 3,500 feet in only 4.25 miles!

Shriner Peak Lookout Trail

Shriner Peak Lookout is a monster trek, but it adds another fire tower to your collection. This trail has a lovely wildflower season, but the ideal time to hike it is in the fall when the colors change and light up the terrain in oranges, yellows, and browns.

  • Distance:  8.5 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 3500ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  5-7 hours
  • Trailhead: The trailhead is located along Highway 123, about 4 miles north of the Stevens Canyon entrance.

Best Hikes in Longmire, Southwest Mt Rainier:

10. Rampart Ridge Loop Trail:

Rampart Ridge’s Ramparts are the remains of a lava flow from Mt Rainier’s eruption. The trail begins on the western side of Shadow Trail and connects to a stretch of the Wonderland Trail on the way back to Longmire.

Rampart Ridge Loop Trail

You will be exposed to views of Mount Rainier, an old-growth forest, an abundance of animals, and some of the hikers’ favorite features – switchbacks.

In actuality, we’d only do this if we would have plenty of time after Longmire, but it’s a popular trail that should be on our list of Mt Rainier visitors’ favorite hikes.

  • Distance:  4.6 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 1350 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  3.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Longmire

11. Narada Falls Trail:

Narada Falls is technically in Mt Rainier’s Paradise area, but it’s on the way back down to Longmire, so we’re lumping it in with this waterfall-heavy stretch.

Narada Falls Trail

You can climb 2.4 kilometers round-trip with an elevation gain and loss of 860 feet, or you can watch Narada Falls from a large parking lot right next to the falls. Finally, you can take a short walk from the waterfall to a viewpoint where photographers take pictures.

If you decide to walk this trail, keep in mind that the way back up is steep and treacherous if it is raining. So instead, look over from the parking area at the top of the cascade to see Narada Falls with the least amount of effort.

  • Distance:  2.4 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 860ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  5 hours
  • Trailhead: Narada Falls Trailhead

12. Wonderland Trail:

The Wonderland Trail is not accessible to everyone because it takes many weeks to complete, but it appears to be worthwhile! To achieve this long journey, you must plan ahead of time and obtain permits. The track goes around the entire mountain. It’s on a lot of people’s bucket lists (including mine)

Wonderland Trail

It’s a popular trail that needs hikers to apply for a permit ($20 application fee per group of up to 12 individuals) in advance — see below for more information on Wonderland Trail permits, including walk-up permits. The Wonderland Trail has a variety of distinct beginning places and can be hiked clockwise or counterclockwise.

Hikers must first get a highly sought-after permit to hike the Wonderland Trail and spend the night in the backcountry. Thru-hiking the Wonderland Trail is a difficult task that requires prior backpacking expertise or a very competent trip leader. Most hikers take 10 days on average. The track has a lot of strenuous trekking on it, and it rises about 23,000 feet in elevation along the way.

  • Distance:  93 miles
  • Total Ascent: 22000ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  10-13 days
  • Trailhead: Various; it depends on your starting point

Best Hikes in Carbon River / Mowich Lake, Northwest Mt Rainier:

13. Tolmie Peak Lookout Trail – Stunning Summit View Over Lake and Mt Rainier:

Tolmie Peak is among our favorite hikes on Mount Rainier. It’s a pleasant trek that leads to some of the park’s most breathtaking views. The views of Mount Rainier from Tolmie Peak are spectacular. Mount Rainier looms over the Tolmie Peak fire lookout and the gorgeous blue lake.

Tolmie Peak Lookout Trail – Stunning Summit View Over Lake and Mt Rainier

The trek to Tolmie Peak fire lookout tower is more complex than the Mt Fremont tower trail, but it is significantly more scenic. Both have spectacular peak views, but Tolmie Peak consists of a lake in front of it, and Mt Rainier directly behind it, which we think makes for a winning combo!

If you prefer photography, our top tip for this hike is to avoid daytime at all costs, as you will be squarely facing the sun from noon till late afternoon.

  • Distance:  7 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 1300 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  4 hours
  • Trailhead: Tolmie Peak Trailhead

14. Spray Park Trail – Best Hidden Gem Hike in Mt Rainier:

Spray Park Trail is one of our favorite off-the-beaten-path walks in Mt. Rainier National Park. Unfortunately, most visitors who drive up Mowich Lake Road only go as far as Tolmie Peak Lookout and miss Spray Park. That’s a bad idea, and you must plan on spending an entire day up here hiking both paths.

Spray Park Trail – Best Hidden Gem Hike in Mt Rainier

While the climb to Tolmie Peak takes you north from Mowich Lake, this one takes you south. It’s the same concept, though: for approximately two miles, you’ll meander down an essentially flat trail into the forest, where you’ll find substantial Spray Falls. The actual ascent begins from here.

The stunning views from the summit of Mt. Pleasant are advantageous, even if your thighs and buttocks will ache for a few days subsequently.

  • Distance:  6-8 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 1700ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  4-6 hours
  • Trailhead: The end of Mountain Meadows Road

Best Lakes in Mt Rainier National Park for Hiking:

15. Bench and Snow Lakes

The Bench and Snow Lake Trail is one of Mt Rainier National Park’s top-value treks. Parking can be difficult because there is only a little half-moon-shaped roadside lot here, and it is a popular trail. It’s just at the top of Stevens Canyon, where the road flattens out before entering Paradise.

Bench and Snow Lakes

After less than a mile on the trail, the intersection for Bench Lake invites a hiking break. The most exemplary view is from the signed backcountry camp at Bench Lake if the campsite is not filled. The lake got its name because it lies atop a natural “bench,” which serves as a viewing point for Mount Rainier to the north on clear days.

Snow Lake is located further up the trail and is well worth visiting. A vertical rock face surrounds the entire trail, revealing new intricacies as you glance up at the increasing scenery.

  • Distance:  2.5 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 700ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Easy
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  1.5-2.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Bench and Snow Lake Trail
  • Area: Paradise In

16. Frozen Lake via Sourdough Ridge Trail:

Frozen Lake is a step up from the nature trail, although without significant elevation increase. You will reach the confluence with Mt Fremont Trail and Burroughs Mountain Trail if you continue west on Sourdough Ridge Trail. The trails leading up to more extensive walks can be seen, and you get even closer to Mt Rainier.

Frozen Lake via Sourdough Ridge Trail

The lake itself serves as a source of drinking water for the Sunrise village region. Signs warn against approaching the water source too closely, but you can patch a photo together if you have a camera.

  • Distance:  3 miles roundtrip
  • Total Ascent: 550ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  1.5-2 hours
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Parking lot
  • Area: Sunrise

17. The High Lakes Trail:

The attractions of this trail are Reflection Lake and Myrtle Falls; spend some time at both to take in the scenery. We also enjoy how configurable it is, with a few different add-ons available if you’re feeling adventurous.

The High Lakes Trail

Starting at the southeast corner of the parking lot at the Henry M. Jackson Visitors Center, take the Lakes Trail south away from the Mountain. Take a left at the first fork, a right at the Lakes Trail, and a right at the second fork. This will take you to Reflection Lakes.

The views are nothing short of magnificent – we came here for sunset and sunrise on our last visit, and the picture-perfect reflection of Mount Rainier in the ocean is breathtaking. If the hike sounds too strenuous, you can drive here.

  • Distance:  6.3 miles
  • Total Ascent: 1800ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Hiking Time:  2-3 hours
  • Trailhead: South of Paradise Inn
  • Area: Paradise

Best Time to Visit Mt Rainier, National Park:

Summer provides a sunny sky and warmer days, making it the perfect season to explore Mount Rainier National Park’s hiking paths.

July-August: Hiking Mt Rainier in July is the best time to go. The wildflowers bloom and decorate the landscape in a variety of vibrant colors. Please keep in mind that this is the most popular time to visit, which means there will be more people.

September-October: This is an excellent time to avoid crowds and enjoy the gorgeous fall colors. However, be cautious because there may be snow, which can be dangerous.

November – March: There is a lot of snow at this time of year. However, this does not imply that the park is closed. Skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding are all options! Please keep in mind that the Nisqually Entrance, located near the park’s southwest quadrant, and the Carbon River Entrance are the only ones open.

April-June: This is when there are no crowds; however, you should check the weather. Some trails and roads may still be closed.

Things to Do in Mount Rainier National Park:

There are many things to do in Mount Rainer National Park, but we have mentioned three things below that you must do when you visit there.

Things to Do in Mount Rainier National Park

1. Spend Sometime in Paradise:

Paradise, located at the height of 5,400 feet, is a fantastic site to start your park tour and is home to the park’s main visitor facility, the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center. It provides general information, exhibits, a park film, guided ranger programs, a gift shop, and a cafe.

In the summer, this area is suitable for seeing wildflowers, and in the winter, it is the primary location for activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tubing.

2. Visit Sunrise Spot:

Sunrise gives stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys from 6,400 feet. Mount Rainier and other Cascade Range volcanoes, such as Mount Adams, are available from this vantage point. Sunrise is also the highest point in the park that vehicles may reach. Sunrise is the park’s second-most frequented spot because of its excellent views and diverse route system.

The Sunrise Nature Trail and the Sunrise Rim Trail are two popular short treks. The one-and-a-half-mile Sunrise Nature Trail begins at the Sunrise picnic area and is a self-guided circular tour that winds through meadows with stunning vistas of Mount Rainier and the Cascades along the way. The 1-mile Sunrise Rim Trail leads to two Emmons Glacier viewpoints.

3. Grove of the Patriarchs Trail:

This 1-mile round hike on the Ohanapecosh River west of the Stevens Canyon Entrance travels to an island bounded by 1,000-year-old Douglas fir and western red cedar trees. Visitors describe this as a “wonderful circle walk” with “great old-growth trees.” The swinging suspension bridge was also a hit among visitors. The trail is marked with self-guiding signage.

The Ohanapecosh region, named after a Taidnapam (Upper Cowlitz) Indian habitation site along the river, is supposed to mean “standing at the brink,” which sounds apt. According to the park service, the east side of the park is slightly drier and sunnier than the west side, making it an ideal destination when Paradise and Longmire are damp and foggy. Ohanapecosh is closed throughout the winter.

Best Mt Rainier Hikes – FAQs

Are there easy hikes at Mt Rainier?
Yes, there are some easy hikes at Mount Rainier including, Naches Peak Loop Trail, Silver Falls loop, Grove of the Patriarchs, Bench and Snow Lake, etc.
Which side of Mt Rainier is best?
Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Side is the best as it is higher and drier than any other part of the park. It’s the highest elevation you can drive on, at 6400 feet. As the name implies, this section receives more sunlight than the rest of the park, allowing for longer seasons of exploration.
Is hiking Mt Rainier safe?
Mount Rainier is one of Washington’s most dangerous hikes, but it’s far from the only difficult trail in the state. Hiking is a perilous outdoor activity due to the rough and harsh terrain, high elevation changes, and wild animals.
Where is the best place to view Mt Rainier?
Rainier Vista Park has one of the nicest vistas. The park, located near two tiny lakes, provides a beautiful perspective of the mountain and is a perfect area to walk and enjoy the city’s parks. Another breathtaking view of Mount Rainier may be viewed while traveling through Hawks Prairie.
Can you hike to the top of Mt Rainier?
Over twenty different climbing routes and ski descents are accessible via four primary trailheads to the mountain: Paradise, Westside Road, White River, and Mowich Lake. Reaching the summit via any route necessitates a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet and a journey of more than ten kilometers.
Are there bears on Mt Rainier?
Mount Rainier National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. However, the black bear and mountain lion are two of the most significant and most dangerous.

 

Conclusion:

I hope this article has helped you decide which hikes to add to your bucket list. My Favorite Hikes on Mount Rainer are Fremont Lookout, Tolmie Peak, Spray Park, and the Skyline Divide. In addition, the grove Of The Patriarchs Loop and the Naches Peak Loop is among the best hikes on Mount Rainier for families.

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