20 Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park is stunning – especially when the sky is clear and the meadows of wildflowers are in bloom.   

There are several main areas of the park, and each of them are laced with multiple intersecting trails, so there are hikes at Mt Rainier National Park of all lengths and difficulties.  

Here, you’ll find my top picks for the best hikes Mount Rainier National Park has to offer.

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Trees, grasses, and flowers below the snow-capped mountain with the texts that say 20 most stunning HIKING DESTINATIONS IN MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
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My pick for the 20 best Mt Rainier hikes are:

Best Hikes In Paradise, Mt Rainier National Park 

Paradise is the aptly-named area in the southern section of Mount Rainier National Park.  It is accessed through the Nisqually Entrance to the south or via Stevens Canyon to the east. 

This is the most popular part of the park and is especially famous for the meadows of gorgeous wildflowers in summer, framed by up close views of Mount Rainier on clear days.  There are multiple interconnected trails through the meadows and woods near the Visitor Center, plus several longer trails to head further afield. 

1. Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Myrtle Falls

Length: 5.5 miles loop round trip | 4.5 hours 

Difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead: Paradise. Across from the Visitor Center. 

This loop is widely considered the best hike in Mount Rainier National Park and if you have time and energy for one hike only, then this is the one to do.   

Setting off in a counter clockwise direction, the first mile (approx. 30 minutes) to Myrtle Falls is paved.  If you’re looking for an easier and shorter hike, then to Myrtle Falls and back is a great choice. You’ll pass meadows of wild flowers and enjoy beautiful views.  There is a steep but very short trail/ staircase from the main trail down to a view of the falls, with a footbridge above it, and Mount Rainier sitting behind them.

This is where the paved section ends, and the trail soon climbs through a pine forest, past more wildflowers, and up into bare scree and rocks.  There are several viewpoints until you get to the official Panorama Point, which has stunning views over the Cascades Range. 

The trail gets even close to Mount Rainier, with clear views of Nisqually Glacier (take the side loop to Glacier Vista Overlook for the best views), and then descends steeply through more meadows.  The last section is again paved, and somewhat steep.  As you near the Visitor Center, you will come to several other trails, which you can take, or follow the main trail back to the Visitor Center. 

Insider Tips

  • Go early or go late. The trail is very popular and can get crowded.  
  • Be aware that at Panorama Point, which is often cited as the highlight of this Paradise trail, Mt Rainier is behind you and the view is of other mountains in the Cascades Range, including Mount Adams (though you see Rainier throughout the hike). The sunlight facing this direction is not great for photography in the morning (though it’s good for Mount Rainier in the opposite direction). 
  • You can hike the loop in either direction, but I recommend counterclockwise.  The ascent is longer and more gradual in this direction and the descent is shorter and steeper.  If you go clockwise, the ascent is shorter and steeper.  

Highlights:

  • The most popular Paradise hike, Mt Rainier National Park; panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains; up close views of Mount Rainier; meadows of wildflowers 

Read More: Skyline Trail Guide


2. Deadhorse Creek Trail, Mount Rainier National Park 

Dead Horse Creek Trail

Length: 2.3 miles return | 1.5 hours return 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead: The trail starts at one end from the lower parking lot in Paradise and at the other end from the Skyline Trail, just before the Glacier Vista Overlook spur trail.  

This is one of the best wildflower hikes Mt Rainier has and my personal favorite of all the Mount Rainier trails.  You can hike it out and back, but if you join it from the Skyline Trail and hike back, you can do a loop and enjoy different landscapes in both directions.   

If you start at the northern end of the trail from the Skyline Trail, you will be heading back towards the Visitor Center and the Cascade Mountains will be in front of you to start with meadows in the foreground. The trail then turns and there is a stunning view of Mount Rainier right in front of you. After 0.4 miles, another trail goes off the left.  Stay right to stay on the Deadhorse Creek Trail. A short while later, you’ll come to the start of the Moraine Trail off to the right. 

After this, the Dead Horse Creek Trail gets especially beautiful.  There are views of both the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainer, with winding paths lacing their way through fields filled with beautiful wildflowers.  Even in early September, there are purple and yellow wildflowers here, after most of the wildflowers have ended for the season in other areas. 

Insider Tips

  • I recommend starting by taking the Skyline Trail in a clockwise direction to start and then returning in a loop back along Deadhorse Creek Trail so that you don’t need to go out and back along the same trail. (You can then hike the Skyline Trail in a counterclockwise direction, so you get different views). 
  • You can easily combine this trail with the out-and-back Moraine Trail and the Nisqually Vista Loop Trail

Highlights:

  • Wildflowers; stunning views of Mount Rainier  

3. Moraine Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier seen from Moraine Trail

Length: 0.75 miles return out and back | 1 hour return (3 miles | 2 hour 25 minutes combined with Dead Horse Trail) 

Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly easy with one steep section at the start/ end) 

Trailhead: Dead Horse Creek Trail 

The Moraine Trail is an out-and-back side spur trail off Dead Horse Creek Trail. This is the Mt Rainier Paradise trail that gets you to the closest to the mountain itself and to Nisqually Glacier.   

The trail starts with a steep section that drops down from the meadows above.  It then flattens out and hugs the side of a hill, passing slopes of wildflowers and crossing some tiny creeks where lush moss grows.  At the end, it reaches the moraine section.  A short climb takes you to the top of a small ridge where you can sit and enjoy stunning views of Nisqually Glacier and Mount Rainier looming in front of you.  

Insider Tips

  •  At the end, there are several trails.  One to the right goes up along the moraine ridge.  This is difficult to do and not necessary.  Instead, go straight ahead/ slightly to the left up to the top of the short ridge, where you have great views of the Nisqually Glacier and Mount Rainier. 
  • There is a steep section at the start/ end, but most of the trail is much easier. 

Highlights:

  • Views of Nisqually Glacier and up-close views of Mount Rainier; wildflowers and moss along the trail; the trail is much less crowded than most of the Mt Rainier Paradise trails 

4. Nisqually Vista Loop, Mount Rainier National Park

Nisqually Valley

Length: 1.1 miles lollipop/ lasso | 45 minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead: Paradise overflow parking lot 

This is one of the best easy hikes Mt Rainier has.  Because it’s stroller-friendly, it’s also one of the best Mt Rainier hikes for families.  A short distance from the lower parking lot, the trail goes off to the left.  If you’re returning along the Deadhorse Creek Trail, the trail is on your right.   

The first ten minutes of the trail is an out-and-back section, with stunning views of Mount Rainier in front of you, framed by pine trees and with wildflowers alongside the paved trail.  You will then come to a fork in the road.  The rest of the trail is a loop.  Going right, you will continue to have views of Mount Rainier in front of you.   

After another ten minutes, you’ll come to the first of four overlooks.  You can see Mount Rainier through the trees.  The views are partially obstructed, but you can also see the Nisqually Valley and the Nisqually Glacier, though it has receded a lot and can actually be better seen from the Moraine Trail. Nonetheless, the framed views are beautiful, and each stop is shady and very easy to access. 

The return loop is through woods and you soon meet back up with the end of the loop and the short one-way trail back to the start. 

Insider Tips:  

  • Go counterclockwise for the best views 
  • Suitable for families with strollers 

Highlights:

  • Views of the Nisqually Glacier 

5. Alta Vista Trail, Mount Rainier National Park 

Alta Vista Trail

Length: 1.8 miles | 35 minutes lollipop loop 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead: Paradise overflow parking lot (can also access from different connecting trail from Visitor Center or from the Skyline Trail) 

There are several ways to get the main Alta Vista Loop, as a series of paths from the parking lot and Visitor Center crisscross the Paradise area.  When you get to the start of the actual Alta Vista trail, you can go left or right in a loop. 

The trail climbs steeply up to the top of a small outcrop.  The trail is steep, but short.  You will pass wildflowers in summer and low blueberry and huckleberry bushes in the fall. 

There are views along the way, but the panoramic views from the top will totally make the effort worth your while! 

Insider Tips:

  • From the parking lot or Visitor Center, do the loop in a clockwise direction for views of Mount Rainier on the way up and the Cascade Mountains on the way down. 

Highlights:

  • Wildflowers and views of the Paradise area 

6. Narada Falls, Mount Rainier National Park 

Narada Falls

Length: 0.4 miles | 10 minutes return 

Difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead: Narada Falls parking lot (on the Longmire – Paradise road) 

The falls are technically not in Paradise, but are on the road from Longmire to Paradise. 

From the large parking lot, a steep but short trail goes down on a well-worn and very clear unpaved path to a viewpoint where you can see the falls, with a small footbridge above them, and slopes covered in wildflowers in the foreground.  Although the trail is a little steep, this is one of the easy Mt Rainier hikes because it’s so short. 

Insider Tips:

  • If you walk to the corner of the parking lot, you can see the waterfalls from above.  If you have mobility issues, then this view is better than nothing, but to see the falls properly, you do need to walk along the trail to the viewpoint below the falls.  

Highlights:

  • Waterfall 

Best Hikes Sunrise, Mt Rainier National Park 

Sunrise is the name of an eastern section of Mount Rainier National Park.  It lies deep in the mountains at the end of a narrow winding road up from the White River Entrance to the park.  This road is only open for a short time each year from late spring to mid-fall.   

As the name suggests, it is one of the best places to see Mount Rainier glowing a golden color as the first rays of sunlight hit it in the morning.  There are a series of interconnected trails in the area providing expansive views of Mount Rainier on clear days.  

7. Epic Sunrise Trail, Mt Rainier National Park 

View from Second Burroughs Mountain

Length: 8.8 miles/ 6 hours 

Difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead: Sunrise parking lot 

This is my favorite of all the Mt Rainier Sunrise hikes.  It isn’t an official trail with a real name, but a ranger I spoke with called it the “Epic Sunrise Trail” and I liked the name so much I am using it here.  It combines several Mt Rainier Sunrise trails into one long – and incredible – day.  

The hike starts along the Sunrise Nature Trail up the hill from the Sunrise parking lot on the right.  This hits the Sourdough Ridge Trail, where you’ll turn left and follow the ridge until you get to the Frozen Lake Trail.  Most of this section of the trail skirts along the edge of a hill, on a wide stony trail with somewhat distant views of Mount Rainier.  

You will get to small signs announcing that over the ridge is the main water source for the Sunrise area and warning you to stay on the trail.  The trail goes up and around and you’ll soon see the small and unassuming water source – Frozen Lake, which is most definitely not frozen in the warmer months. 

There is a five-way intersection nearby.  Off to the left is the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail.  Straight ahead is a section of the Wonderland Trail.  Next on the left is the trail heading up to the First Burroughs.  And the final trail heads back to Sunrise via Shadow Lake.  You can head straight up the Burroughs Trail, but I recommend taking the side trail to Mount Fremont Lookout first.   

The trail ascends somewhat gradually, around the side of a mountain, with views of Mount Rainier most of the way.  It ends at a wooden fire tower, with views over the surrounding Cascade Mountains.   

Back at the five-way intersection, the trail climbs up to the top of First Burroughs.  There are more views at the top.  The trail then dips down and back up to Second Burroughs, where there are incredible views of Mount Rainier.  You can continue out-and-back to Third Burroughs for views of Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers.  A short backtrack to First Burroughs takes you to the start of the Sunrise Rim Trail.   

The first part of this is fairly flat and easy.  It then gets narrow and has steep drop offs on one side.  It’s a little hairy if you’re afraid of heights.  It descends and passes the stunning Glacier Overlook, before descending even more down to Shadow Lake.  Pass through meadows on your return to the parking lot.  

Insider Tips:  

  • Start early.  Not only does the parking lot at Sunrise fill by around 7:00am on summer weekends (!), the best views in Sunrise are in the morning.  Soon after noon, the sun is in the wrong direction for good photography and Mount Rainier loses the beautiful definition it has in the morning light with the sun shining directly on it.  
  • A big decision is to whether to add on 3rd Burrough.  This adds a couple of hours to the hike, and most of the hike is on dry, bare, shadeless, steep rocky ground with not great views.  At the end, there are wonderful views looking down on Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers, however.  I personally wish I hadn’t done it, as I didn’t think the payoff was worth the effort, but many other people on the trail thought it was great.  
  • If you’re exhausted by the end and want an easier way back, at Shadow Lake, instead of going straight, turn left and cut up to the service road.  The distance is the same, but the service road is flatter and easier walking than continuing along the Sunrise Rim Trail back to the Sunrise parking lot.  

Highlights:

  • Views of Mount Rainier; historic Mount Fremont Fire Tower 

8. Burroughs Mountain Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

View from Third Burroughs Mountain

Length: First Burroughs: 4.7 miles; Second Burroughs: 7 miles; Third Burroughs: 9 miles | 3 hours to/ from Second Burroughs; 5-6 hours to/ from Third Burroughs  

Difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead: The trail starts at the five-way intersection near Frozen Lake or at the end of the Sunrise Rim Trail 

The Burroughs Mountain hikes also combine several Sunrise Mt Rainier hikes into one, because you need to take another trail to get to the Burroughs.  The most common direction is to take the Sourdough Ridge Trail to Frozen Lake and then from the five-way intersection there, take the middle trail up the side of the Burroughs Mountain to the First Burroughs.  

The ‘summit’ is not signposted, but you’ll reach the First Burroughs soon after you pass the Sunrise Rim Trail on your left.  There are nice views here – you can see through hikers carrying backpacks as they hike the Wonderland Trail far below.   

Continue down and then up to Second Burroughs.  There is a circular stone section that make a logical place for photos.  From First to Second Burroughs is 0.6 miles each way and totally worth it.  At Second Burroughs, there is a really great view of Mount Rainier and Emmons Glacier with the White River flowing down a slope and ending in a small forest on the lower slopes.   

If you decide to continue on to Third Burroughs, continue over the edge of Second Burroughs and down the narrow trail.  After a while, you’ll come to an unmarked trail on your right.  You’ll see it go down into a valley and then back up the other side. Take this.  There are no views for most of this section of the trail, and it’s hot and steep.  There are several false summits, but eventually, you’ll come to a point where you can look down on to the Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers.  The trail continues along the top of a ridge, where it eventually ends, though the best views of the glaciers are those you first saw.   

Return back to the Sunrise Rim Trail for a loop back to the Sunrise parking lot. 

Insider Tips

  • I recommend starting along the Sourdough Ridge/ Frozen Lake Trail and returning via the Sunrise Rim Trail for varied views and to have the steepest section (Sunrise Rim Trail) on the return. 
  • For most people, hiking to Second Burroughs is enough.  Only add Third Burroughs if you have plenty of time and energy and really want to look down on a glacier.  Most of this section of the hike is a shadeless slog. 

Highlights:

  • Amazing views of Mount Rainier; views of Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers (Third Burroughs only) 

9. Sunrise Rim Trail, Mount Rainier National Park 

Sunrise Rim Trail

Length: 5.2 miles | 3 hours 

Difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead: Sunrise parking lot (left side) 

This is one of the most popular Mt Rainier Sunrise trails.  The trail can be done as an out-and-back hike from the Sunrise parking lot or combined in a loop with the Frozen Lake and Burroughs Trails

If you do the latter and start at First Burroughs, the trail starts flat, but soon dips down and passes along a section with a somewhat narrow trail and very steep drop offs at is skirts along the side of a steep mountain.  The views of Mount Rainier are off to your right and behind you, so stop and turn around and enjoy the views.  

You will eventually see a small bight green lake down at the bottom of the mountain before coming to Glacier Overlook.  The views here are arguably even better than from Emmons Vista Overlook.  From there, the trail descends down to Shadow Lake.   

There is a small walk-in campground here, mostly used by people hiking the Wonderland Trail.  You can keep going straight or, if you’re tired, turn left and cut through the campground on a section of the Wonderland Trail for 0.4 miles and connect with the service road.  Take this to the right for an easy walk with views of meadows and mountains back to the parking lot.   

If you go straight, the distance is basically the same, but the trail is narrower and more mountainous.  You can connect with the Emmons Vista Trail for more classic Rainier views.  

Insider Tips

  • The section between Glacier Overlook and First Burroughs has very steep dropoffs on one side.  If you are doing this hike in July, definitely take microspikes with you, as this would be very scary and dangerous with ice on the trail without them. 
  • I recommend doing this as loop start with the Frozen Lake and Burroughs Trails and then ending with the Sunrise Rim Trail.  That way you hike down the steep Sunrise Rim Trail. 

Highlights:

  • Glacier Overlook; stunning views of Mount Rainier; wildflowers 

10. Emmons Vista Overlooks, Mount Rainier National Park 

View from Emmons Vista Overlook

Length: 0.2 miles return (out and back) | 5 minutes each way 

Difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead: The left side of the Sunrise parking lot (facing the Visitor Center) 

The short walk to the two overlooks here is one of the most popular Mt Rainier easy hikes. Because it is short and mostly flat, and the views are of the entire northeast face of Mount Rainer, from the summit all the way down to White River Valley and a gorgeous green lake, this is widely considered one of the best short hikes in Mt Rainier National Park.  There are interpretive panels at each of the overlooks explaining about the geology of the area.    

Insider Tips

  • Go in the morning if you can for the best light.  In the afternoon, the sun is in front of you and creates glare for viewing and photography. 
  • You can continue past the second overlook along the Silver Forest Trail (0.8 miles each way) for a lovely, mostly flat walk through the forest (no Rainier views).  
  • National park rangers often give guided walks to the overlooks and explain a lot about the area.  Check for the schedule and don’t miss this is you can.  Check the NPS website for details.  

Highlights:

  • Views of Mount Rainier 

11. Frozen Lake Loop Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

View of Mount Rainier from trail to Frozen Lake

Length: 3 miles | 1.5 hours 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead: Sunrise parking lot (right side) 

This is one of the best Mount Rainier hikes if you’re looking for a moderate hike with great views. 

The trail starts along the Sunrise Nature Trail and up to the Sourdough Ridge Trail.  Turn left and follow the ridge a short distance until you get to the junction with the Frozen Lake Trail.  The main section of the trail is wide and mostly flat as it runs alongside the side of a hill.  There are lovely views over the surrounding area with Mount Rainier in the background. 

When you come to small signs telling you to follow the trail and respect the source of water for the Sunrise area, you are almost there.  The trail heads up and around and you will then see a small lake with a tiny dam at one end.  This is Frozen Lake and because it is the main water source, you can’t get down to the lake itself. 

When you come to a five-way intersection, there are options to go to the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail, Wonderland Trail or Burroughs Mountain Trail.  Take the most left trail instead and head back towards Shadow Lake on a portion of the Wonderland Trail.   

After 0.6 miles, you can join the service road and walk past flowering meadows directly to the parking lot (easier but less exciting), or turn right and continue along the Wonderland Trail down to Shadow Lake Campground.  Then turn left and finish along the last section of the Sunrise Rim Trail.  

Insider Tips

  • Do the loop in a counter clockwise direction to go down rather than up the steepest section.  

Highlights:

  • Views of Mount Rainier 

12. Fremont Lookout Trail, Mount Rainier National Park 

Fremont Lookout Fire Tower

Length: 5.6 miles | 3.5 hours 

Difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead: The five-way intersection near Frozen Lake.  Combine with the Frozen Lake Trail to get to the start of this trail 

With stunning views of Mount Rainier for most of the hike, combined with incredible views of the Cascade Mountains from one of the four remaining historic fire tower lookouts in the park, it is easy to see why this is one of the best hikes Mt Rainier National Park. 

Start by hiking to Frozen Lake.  At the five-way intersection, take the first right, and follow the 1.3-mile trail that you can see climbing steadily as it curves up and around the side of the mountain.  

There are clear views of Mount Rainier for most of the way.  The last section of the trail curves further around the hillside, blocking Mount Rainier behind you but opening up to panoramic views of other peaks in the Cascades Range.   

The trail ends at the tip of a rocky outcrop, where a classic wooden fire tower is perched.  You can’t go inside the fire tower, but can walk around the outside balcony and enjoy almost 360° views.  

Return the way you came.  

Insider Tips

  • The actual trail up to Mount Fremont Lookout is out and back.  But to get there, you have to hike to Frozen Lake first.  If you are looking for an easier hike, then hike to Frozen Lake via the Sourdough Ridge Trail and return the same way.  For a longer, more strenuous hike, complete the full Frozen Lake loop via Shadow Lake.   

Highlights:

  • Historic fire tower; views of Mount Rainier 

Best Hikes Ohanapecosh, Mount Rainier National Park 

The Ohanapecosh area lies in the southeastern section of Mount Rainier National Park.  There are Rainier views from some of the trails just north of Ohanapecosh (included here).  The southern trails in Ohanapecosh itself don’t have mountain views, but go through incredible old growth forests of towering trees and lush undergrowth.  

If you want to hike Mt Rainier National Park on a cloudy day, or just for variety, these are amazing trails to enjoy – and some of my personal favorites. 

13. Silver Falls Loop Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Bridge and gorge across from Silver Falls

Length: 3 miles roundtrip | 2 hours loop 

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate 

Trailhead: Loop B of the Ohanapecosh Campground | the day use parking lot for the Visitor Center.  You can also connect to the trail near the falls from the Grove of The Patriarchs parking lot (0.5 miles) 

Although there are no mountain views here, this is one of my favorite Mount Rainier hiking trails. The trail winds its way gently through ancient old growth forest.  The trees are enormous and it’s easy to be filled with wonder at just how amazing nature is when surrounded by these incredible giants.

Although the trail isn’t completely flat, it’s a pretty gentle ascent to the falls and an equally gentle descent when returning.   

Hiking the loop clockwise, after about 35 minutes, you’ll come to a fork in the trail.  The Cowlitz Divide Trail goes left – stay right.  A little further along is another fork to the Eastside Trail on the left – stay right here too.  This is where you’ll come from if you took the trail from the Grove of the Patriarchs.  

About a minute later, you’ll see the river and soon after a short trail off to the left down to an overlook to see the falls. 

Silver Falls are 75 feet in total – starting with a gentle cascade and ending in a 40-foot drop into a wide pool of water, with large driftwood logs caught on the other side.  The pool narrows to form a gorgeous gorge (pun intended), with a picturesque wooden footbridge crossing it.  

To complete the loop, cross the bridge and follow the trail back through the forest, over a couple of more small bridges.  Near the end, you can take the Hot Springs Nature Trail off to the left or continue straight on the main trail. 

Insider Tips

  • I recommend going in a clockwise direction, though either direction is fine. The loop doesn’t start/ end at exactly the same spot.  To go clockwise, take the trail that starts just the other side of the bridge over the Ohanapecosh River if you are heading into the campground away from the Visitor Center. It’s not marked, but is an obvious trail off the right.  The other trailhead (where you’ll end if you did the hike clockwise) is near the Day Use parking lot, on the side of the bridge nearest the Visitor Center. 
  • If you do the hike in a clockwise direction, when you first see the river and falls, there is a steep rough trail down to the falls overlook.  Don’t take this.  Continue around the main trail for a dozen yards or so and you’ll see the real side trail down the overlook, which is much easier.  
  • From the main overlook, there is a short trail that goes down to a flat rock ledge.  There is a great view of the bridge and the gorge from here, but these rocks are very slippery and dangerous when wet, so avoid these rocks if they are wet. 
  • If the campground Day Use parking lot is full, it’s possible to park on Highway 123 at a small turnout just up the road near the Hot Springs Trail.  There is a 0.1-mile connector trail from this small pullout to the main trail. You can also try parking at the Grove of The Patriarchs. 
  • You can combine this with the Hot Springs Nature Trail, which is a side loop off the main trail near the Visitor Center.  This adds 0.2 miles.  

Highlights:

  • Old growth forest; waterfall; scenic footbridge 

14. Hot Springs Nature Trail, Mount Rainier National Park 

Hot springs

Length: 0.5 miles loop | 30 minutes 

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Ohanapecosh Campground, behind Visitor Center

This isn’t the most spectacular hike, but is one of the Mt Rainier easy hikes. The trail is a side loop off the end (or beginning) part of the Silver Falls Trail, so forms a short, mostly flat loop.  Walk through a forest of towering hemlock and Douglas Fir trees.

There used to be a hot springs resort here, until 1960.  Nowadays, the hot springs are little more than slightly muddy pools of water, so don’t be disappointed.  This hike is more about the forest than the hot springs. 

Insider Tips

  • There is a day use parking area at the Ohanapecosh Campground, where there is no time limit.  There is a 30-minute time limit to park at the Visitor Center.  If the Day Use parking lot is full, you could park at the Visitor Center and finish this hike in 30 minutes, the time limit for parking there.  
  • If you can manage the full Silver Falls Trail, I’d recommend that, but if you want a little taste, then this trail will give it to you.  

Highlights:

  • Forest; hot springs 

15. Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park 

Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak

Length: 0.5 miles | 20 minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead: Tipsoo Lake, which is 0.5 mile west of Chinook Pass on SR 410 

This is one of the easiest hikes Mount Rainier National Park has. It’s a short stroll on a flat trail around a lovely subalpine lake, past meadows covered in stunning wildflowers.

The flowers typically start to bloom late July and peak around mid-August.  In late summer and early fall, the color show continues with the huckleberry bushes turning a beautiful red color.  

Insider Tips

  • There is a small picnic area and restrooms near the parking lot 
  • Because of the amazing meadows of wildflowers, this is a very popular spot and the parking lot fills quickly.  Go early or late. 

Highlights:

  • Lake; wildflowers 

16. Naches Peak Loop, Mount Rainier National Park 

Mount Rainier seen from Naches Loop Trail

Length: 3.4 miles | 2 hours 

Difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead: Tipsoo Lake, which is 0.5 mile west of Chinook Pass on SR 410 

This is one of the best Rainier hikes to see wildflowers in summer and beautiful huckleberry bushes in the fall.  There are also wonderful views of Mount Rainier on clear days. 

Traveling clockwise around the loop, the Naches Peak Trail begins at the Tipsoo Lake parking lot and picnic area, then climbs briefly before joining the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).   

Soon after, the trail crosses an historic footbridge over SR 410 at the Chinook Pass.  You are no longer inside Mount Rainier National Park as the trail continues along the PCT, around the eastern side of Naches Peak. This section is especially beautiful, as you pass meadows of wildflowers, with views of lakes and mountain peaks.   

After 1.6 miles, you’ll leave the PCT and take the Naches Loop Trail back into the national park and around the western side of Naches Peak back down to Tipsoo Lake. Ther are wonderful views of Mount Rainier on this section of the trail.   

Insider Tips

  • Go around the loop in a clockwise direction for the best views of Mount Rainier 
  • The eastern half of the hike is actually along the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which is outside the national park on U.S. Forest Service land.  Pets are permitted in this section, but not on the western half of the loop, which is inside the national park. 
  • The light for views and photography is best in the morning 

Highlights:

  • Wildflowers in summer and fall color in September; Mount Rainier views 

17. Grove of The Patriarchs, Mount Rainier National Park

Boardwalk on Grove of the Patriarchs Trail

Length: 1.5 miles round trip | 1 hour 

Difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead: Grove of The Patriarchs parking lot/ trailhead 

This is one of the Mount Rainier hiking trails that doesn’t have views of the eponymous mountain, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it.  The easy trail winds its way around a small island through some of the largest and oldest trees in the national park. 

The trail starts in a grove of enormous red cedars before crossing a single-file suspension bridge.  Soon after, the trail forks.  You can go in either direction, as it forms a loop around the island.  The trail winds its way along a dirt path and boardwalks through a grove of ancient western hemlocks, western red cedars and Douglas Firs.  Some are more than 1,000 years old. 

Insider Tips:  

  • There are restrooms in the parking lot.   
  • The parking lot only has a couple dozen parking spaces and this is a popular hike, so it’s best to get there early or go late in the afternoon. 
  • If you secure a parking spot here, you can also hike a short connecting trail to the Silver Falls Trail. 
  • This is a good hike on an overcast day when Mount Rainier is hiding behind clouds. 

Highlights:

  • Old growth forest 

NOTE: Unfortunately, this Mt Rainier hike is currently inaccessible.  The footbridge, which was the only way to access the grove, was washed out in bad floods in late 2021 and has not yet been replaced.   


Best Hikes Mowich Lake, Mount Rainier National Park 

Mowich Lake and Carbon River both lie in the much-less-visited northwestern region of Mount Rainier National Park.  They are reached on separate roads, however.   

The road to Mowich Lake is a dirt road and therefore takes longer to reach.  However, the main hike here does have views of Mount Rainier.  With subalpine lakes, old growth forests and mountain views, Mount Rainier National Park hiking doesn’t get much better than this. 

18. Tolmie Peak Trail, Mt Rainier National Park

Eunice Lake and Mount Rainier seen from Tolmie Peak

Length: 6.5 miles | 3-4 hours 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead: The north side of Mowich Lake 

Although this is one of the best hiking trails in Mt Rainier National Park, it is rarely crowded.  It’s a beautiful hike through forests to a wooden lookout with views of Mount Rainer’s northwestern face with Eunice Lake below in the foreground.  

From the trailhead, the trail proceeds for 1.25 miles through the forest.  At the junction to Ipsut Pass, go straight/ left.  The trail dips down then there’s a steep climb for just under a mile to get to Eunice Lake.  There are meadows of wildflowers in summer.  

From there, it’s another steep uphill climb from the lake to the Tolmie Peak Lookout, one of four remaining historic wooden fire towers in the national park.  On a clear day, the views from here are sublime. Mount Rainier forms a perfect backdrop, with the forest and Eunice Lake in the foreground.  

Insider Tips

  • Always check current trail conditions before heading out. 
  • At the top, walk around and look for a view through the trees of Green Lake. 

Highlights:

  • Eunice Lake; Historic fire tower lookout; Mount Rainier and other mountain views 

Best Hikes Carbon River, Mount Rainier National Park 

The Carbon River area of the national park lies at the very northwestern corner of the national park.  The drive is a little shorter than that to Mowich Lake and is a better road.  However, the road only goes as far as the entrance to the national park.  Beyond that, the road is no longer passable and is used as a hiking or biking trail only. 

This section of the park lacks the expansive views of Mount Rainier that you can find in most other sections of the park, but there are several Mount Rainier National Park hikes through amazing forests that are worth the effort to get here.  

19.  Green Lake Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Moss-covered trees on Green Lake Trail

Length: 10.8 miles roundtrip | 4.5-5 hours 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead: Carbon River Entrance 

The first 3.2 miles of the hike are along the Carbon River Trail, which used to be a road you could drive on until it got washed out and the National Park Service decided to close it permanently and turn it into a trail instead.  

The side trail on the right goes 1.8 miles each way up to Green Lake.  This section ascends steadily.  You’ll pass through old growth forest, where some of the Douglas Fir trees are over 800 years old.  Stop at Ranger Falls after 1.0 mile.   

The trail keeps climbing and ends at the beautiful Green Lake.  There are no views of Mount Rainier, but there is a partially obstructed view of Tolmie Peak. 

Insider Tips

  • You can bicycle along the Carbon River Trail (formerly Road).  There’s a small bike rack at the junction to the Green Lake Trail, where you can lock your bike  
  • The trail is open year-round, but always check current trail conditions before heading out, especially in winter, as the log footbridges frequently wash out. 

Highlights:

  • Old growth forest; waterfall; beautiful lake 

20. Chenuis Falls Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Chenuis Falls

Length: 7.8 miles roundtrip | 4.5 hours 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead: Carbon River Entrance 

Another of the best trails Mt Rainier has that highlights the forests rather than the mountain.  The trail goes along the Carbon River Trail (formerly the Carbon River Road) passing the Old Mine Trail and Green Lake Trails before coming to the side spur trail to Chenuis Falls on your left after 3.5 miles.   

Here you’ll actually walk along the rocky river bed before crossing the Carbon River on a footlog bridge.  Continue through the forest until you reach Chenuis Falls at the end of the trail. This side trail is just 0.2 miles, but it’s somewhat steep and you need to follow cairns (rock piles) to identify the trail in parts. 

The falls are large cascading waterfalls, fed by the Carbon Glacier (the longest and deepest glacier in the US outside Alaska), ending in a beautiful blue pool and often surrounded by large logs that have gotten caught as they fell over the edge.  The trail continues up beside the falls so you can also see them from above. 

Insider Tips

  • It’s possible to bicycle along the old Carbon River Road, which is most of the trail. There is a bike rack at the junction to the side trail to the falls where you can lock your bike.  
  • The trail requires crossing the Carbon River on foot logs. Be careful crossing the river.   If you have balance issues, this may not be the best hike to do. 
  • Check to make sure the footlog bridge is not washed out before attempting this hike. 

Highlights:

  • Forest and river views; waterfall
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20 Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park Trails: Summary 

If you love to hike, Mount Rainier is an incredible place to visit.  Here are my top picks by category: 

Hikes with best views of Mt Rainier

Skyline Trail; Deadhorse Creek Trail; Burroughs Mountains Trail; Sunrise Rim Trail 

Best short hikes Mt Rainier

Nisqually Loop Trail; Emmons Vista Overlooks Trail; Moraine Trail; Tipsoo Lake 

Mt Rainier easy hikes

Nisqually Loop Trail; Emmons Vista Overlooks Trail; Grove of Patriarchs; Silver Falls Trail; Tipsoo Lake 

Best Mt Rainier hikes for families

Nisqually Loop; Emmons Vista Overlooks Trail; Tipsoo Lake 

Most scenic hikes Mt Rainier National Park

Skyline Trail; Epic Sunrise Trail; Naches Peak Loop; Tolmie Peak  

Best hikes: Paradise Mt Rainier National Park

Skyline Trail; Deadhorse Creek Trail; Moraine Trail 

Best trails: Sunrise Mt Rainier National Park

Mount Fremont Lookout; Sunrise Rim; Burroughs Mountain 

Best wildflower hikes Mt Rainier National Park

Skyline Trail; Deadhorse Creek Trail; Tolmie Peak Trail; Naches Peak Loop; Tipsoo Lake 

My favorite Mount Rainier hike

Deadhorse Creek Trail 


What to Pack for Mount Rainier Hiking 

Most Mt Rainier trails involve hiking up and downhill.  This is when hiking poles really come into their own.  I used to hike without them, but after trying them once on a hilly climb, I have never looked back. I use these Foxelli ones – they are light, grippy, and shock absorbent.   

For more things you should take with you hiking in Mt Rainier, check out my Complete Day Hike Checklist

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Tips for Hiking Mt Rainier 

Here are some useful tips for Mt Rainier hiking to keep in mind. 

1. Plan carefully 

The hiking season in Mount Rainier is short. Many of the roads and facilities in the park are only open seasonally.  Always check the NPS website for current closures. 

2. Dress appropriately 

If you’re hiking at Mt Rainier in July, there is a good chance that there will still be snow and ice on the trails.  I recommend microspikes/ crampons that slip over your shoes and give you traction.  I personally found these life-changing when hiking on snow.  I love my Kahtoola Micro Spikes. Check them out here if you’re interested in getting some too or read my Guide to The Best Microspikes for Hiking for more options. 

No matter what the weather looks like, it is best to wear layers.  The weather can change quickly and unpredictably, so it’s important to always be prepared for anything.  

3. Take the right gear 

See above for my suggestions on things not to forget.  

4. Get there early  

The parking lots at some of the popular places are often full as early as 7:00am on summer weekends.  Get there super early or later in the afternoon after people have started to leave.  Try to visit mid-week if you can, though even then, you should get there early.  

5. Be careful crossing streams 

Most of these trails don’t cross streams, but a few do.  As per the NPS website: “Always use bridges and footlogs to cross streams safely. If none are available, first look for a straight, wide area and slow-moving water below knee height. Be aware of any downstream hazards that could trap you if you fall in. Use a sturdy stick to maintain 2 points of contact with the ground. Loosen the waist strap on your pack and look forward.” 


Travel Insurance for Mt Rainier National Park Hiking  

You should definitely have travel insurance when you hike the Mt Rainier National Park trails.  Good travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellation, theft or damage if your property when traveling, medical help if you have an accident while on the Mt Rainier hiking trails or medical repatriation if you need to get medi-vaced out.    

A great insurance option is Travelex.  It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can compare Travel Insurance plans here or get a quote right now:

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Enjoy these Mount Rainier hikes

Do you have any other tip picks for the best hikes in Mt Rainier National Park?  I’d love to hear about it.  Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).    

If you liked this post about Mount Rainier National Park trails, please share the love and Pin It to your Mount Rainier National Park board!

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About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.

He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and most of the national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks. 

Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.

As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including USA Today, Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.

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