7 Best Mount Rainier Hiking Trails To Explore

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Mount Rainier National Park is still one of my all-time favourite parks in the United States. It has some of the best hiking trails, diverse scenery and most stunning views in the Pacific Northwest.

Plus, this is the nation’s fifth National Park. It is far less crowded than its counterparts in states like California, Colorado, and Wyoming. You don’t want to miss a visit to Mount Rainier National Park and the best hikes it has to offer.

Its landscape boasts glacier lakes, vibrant wildflowers, year-round snow-capped peaks, trails, and waterfalls that will take your breath away. Not to mention 1,000-year-old trees that rival some of the largest in the world.

Not to mention, Mount Rainer is an active volcano. In fact, it’s the most glaciated peak in the contiguois US. Only two and a half hours away outside Seattle, Washington!

Mount Rainier is one of the best places to hike in the USA

The Best Mount Rainier Hikes

From Mount Rainier day hikes to shorter hiking trails that give the best magical views for the amount of work necessary. These are the best hikes in Mount Rainier National Park.

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Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

The Fremont Fire Lookout is the best place in Mount Rainier in my opinion. The views are unparalleled and it is a great experience hiking up to the point
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 5.6 miles

Mount Fremont Lookout Trail is located in one of the most scenic parts of Mount Rainier National Park. This popular hike is loved for all the mountainous terrain filled with creek and waterfall sightings.

Take a day trip driving up the winding Sunrise Park Road and there you will reach the Sunrise Visitor Center standing in Mount Rainier’s e shadows. This trail certainly does not disappoint.

Visitors who reach the Sunrise portion on the Northeast side of the National Park and commit to hiking the 5.6-mile out-and-back trail to the Fremont Fire Lookout are in for a treat.

After hiking the initial ascent through rocky terrain, beside a glacial frozen lake. And up a massive mountain that’s not for the faint of heart, hikers will be met by the Fremont Point Cabin.

The cabin was built in 1934. It is one of the last remaining fire lookouts in the park, but that’s not the best part. The epitome of this Mount Rainier hike is the climactic view that distinctly separates two parts of the park.

The dramatic views of the frozen and snow-covered Mount Rainier to the west and rolling green pastures to the east are simply iconic.

Take a seat on the tall rocks behind the fire lookout. And enjoy the excellent scenery with the few people who venture to the end of the Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail.

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Skyline Trail

The Skyline Trail is a moderate hiking trail and gives you the best experience of Mount Rainer
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 5.9 miles

One of the best trails in Mount Rainier National Park, but also one of the most crowded. This is a trailhead located a few steps outside the Paradise Visitor Center.

The Skyline Loop Trail’s distinct beauty is met by its extreme accessibility for all visitors. Panorama Point is a favorite among its visitors. It showcases 360-degree views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains.

It begins as a steep paved path outside the most populated part of the National Park. And it continues up the side of Mount Rainier until you reach the abyss of fog and bitter-cold temperatures that leads to the park’s glacier peak.

But don’t let the paved accessibility fool you. Nature quickly takes back the reins about a quarter-mile up. About a half-mile into the 5.9-mile loop trail, you start to see a sheer dropoff in people relegating the path to those adventure hikers and leaving the non-adventurers in the dust — or should I say the snow.

The park showcases trails of heavily packed snow, waterfalls flowing with clear glacier water and panoramic views. I love the stunning views that extended my vision to the likes of Mt. Hood in the neighboring state of Oregon,

Despite going through some of the most beautiful terrains in the park there’s a much more interesting part of the Skyline Trail that especially piqued my interest.

With more than 640 inches of snowfall annually, the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park (more specifically the Skyline Trail) holds the title of the snowiest place on planet earth.

Related Reading: Hiking in Yosemite: The Best Reason to Visit this National Park

Tipsoo Lake Loop Trail

The hiking trail at Tipsoo Lake is easy and is perfect for a leisurely walk to enjoy the views of Mount Rainier
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 0.8 miles

For all those hikers who want jaw-dropping views of the snow-capped Mount Rainier, but either don’t want to go on multi-mile Mount Rainier day hikes or just want to take it easy for the day, must complete the mostly flat Tipsoo Lake Loop Trail.

This hike is less about the workout and more about being in nature. Take in all the unobstructed views of the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier reflecting off of Tipsoo Lake in the backdrop.

The alpine view beside Tipsoo Lake is the stuff of posters and postcards. Its vantage point is one of the best in the entire park and definitely holds the title for the best view for the least amount of work.

The calm and azure waters of Tipsoo, surrounded by towering pines and soft snow, create a reflecting mirror effect of the monstrous Mount Rainier in the backdrop. These lakes are sure to create some of your favorite pictures in the entire park.

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Grove of the Patriarchs Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 1.2 miles

Sure Mount Rainier National Park is defined by the towering mountain with the park’s namesake. Although there are many more sides to the amazing park, which was established in 1899 as the fifth National Park in the United States. The Grove of the Patriarchs trail is a popular hiking destination in Washington State.

Actually, it is one of the best Mount Rainier hikes that shows the deeper side of the National Park. The 1.2-mile loop trail begins with a semi-steep descent through 1,000-year-old Cedar and Douglass fir trees.

This popular trail runs through some of the most beautiful scenery in North America. Step into a world past massive trees, waterfalls, and breathtaking views.

There are many ways to access this trail. One option is to drive to the park entrance. Another option is to take public transportation to the Nisqually Entrance Station. From there, you can catch a shuttle bus to the Groves of the Patriarchs trailhead.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, consider taking the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This trail goes from Mexico to Canada and covers over 2,000 miles.

An opening takes hold and you finally feast your eyes on the Ohanapecosh River. There’s even a man-made walking bridge hovering above the river. Let me tell you, the breathtaking views were one of the best I’ve seen so far in my travels.

Upon crossing the bridge, you’re thrown into the land of giant trees. Hundreds. Some of these trees are standing hundreds of feet high with circumferences up to 50 feet around.

Unfortunately, as of 2021, the public entry has been closed due to significant damage from flooding.

Narada Falls Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 2.4 miles

Hike the Narada Falls trail at Mount Rainier National Park. The trail begins near Paradise Lodge and follows the river through lush trees and alpine meadows. It ends at Narada Falls, where you can take a short hike down to the base of the falls.

Set in the Paradise section of Mount Rainier National Park, Narada Falls spans about 175 feet high and more than 50 feet wide at its peak.

It flows with the cold waters of the Paradise River. Which creates a misty lookout point that’s sure to drench every hiker once they reach the bottom of the 2.4-mile out-and-back trail.

This is a great place to go hiking during the summer months because the weather is usually perfect. However, be prepared for crowds. This trail is popular among tourists who come to visit Mount Rainier.

If you’re looking for a quiet escape, try going earlier in the day when there aren’t many hikers. Or, consider taking a guided tour instead of hiking alone.

When you arrive at the park, you should plan ahead and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, and a camera. Also, wear comfortable shoes and clothing that won’t restrict movement.

Make sure you pack enough food and drink for yourself and any children accompanying you. And remember to tell them not to eat berries off the trees. They may contain poison ivy.

Even if you don’t want to hike the trail, the Falls’ accessibility allows you to get stellar views from the parking lot or with just a bit of hiking on a quarter of the trail.

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Reflection Lake Trail

Reflection lake stays true to its name and you will be inspired by how beautiful it is
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 3.6 miles

Have you ever seen pictures of the snow-capped Mount Rainier reflecting off calm waters?

Was it set in the backdrop of what seems like endless pine trees?

Well, it’s probably a picture from the Reflection Lakes. It, too, is located in the Paradise section of Mount Rainier National Park. So it makes for easy access from many trails on this list.

Reflection Lake Trail is a great hike for beginners who want to experience nature at its finest. The trail winds through beautiful forests and past sparkling waterfalls.

It’s a short walk, but there are plenty of places to stop along the way to take pictures and admire the scenery.

What separates Reflection Lake is its distance from Mount Rainier. This makes it the perfect place to see the tip of this snow-covered mountain perfectly. It has easy access directly off the road.

There are three options for the Reflection Lake Trail. First, you can get out of your vehicle at the parking lot and walk a few hundred feet to the vantage point. Second, you can take a brisk walk along the trail that goes a quarter way around Reflection Lake. Or third, you can take the Reflection Lake Trail 1.8 miles to the base of Narada Falls.

Reflection Lake Trail is a great hike near Mount Rainier National Park. This trail takes hikers through beautiful forests and meadows, past lakes and streams, and along the edge of the mountain itself. It offers iconic views especially at sunset when the sun sets behind Mount Rainier.

This trail is perfect for families because there are plenty of places to stop and take pictures, and kids can run off some energy playing in the water. There are many different trails leading to Reflection Lake, so pick one that suits your hiking style.

Silver Falls Trail

This easy hike will take you over man-made bridges and gives you great views of this gushing waterfall
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4 miles

I loved Silver Falls Trail when we visited Mount Rainier National Park. The trail starts at the Nisqually Entrance Station and ends at Silver Lake Campground.

This trail offers beautiful views of Mount Rainier and its surrounding forests. There are several different routes along this trail, depending on where you’re coming from.

If you’re coming from the Nisqually Vista Trail entrance station, you’ll be hiking through dense forest until you reach the top of the mountain. Then you’ll take a short detour down the side of the mountain to the lake.

From there, you’ll continue hiking to the Ohanapecosh campground. Just make sure you get your permit to camp there. This section of the trail takes you past some amazing waterfalls.

Once you arrive at the campground, you’ll have access to restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.

There are many trails within the park, including the Wonderland Trail. But Silver Falls Trail is definitely worth checking out. The different species of wildflowers piqued my interest while wandering around.

Silver Falls Trail offers a unique perspective of the many smaller waterfalls and fir forests that make up much of the National Park’s exterior. You can get off the beaten path after the first bridge.

From there, unwind on the rocky stoop, climbing behind Silver Falls to get a much different perspective of the trail. Here the water has eroded the top of the falls and it’s teeming with sand from who knows where.

How to Get to Mt. Rainier National Park 

The best way to get the full experience of Mount Rainier National Park is to travel there with your own vehicle or a rental. If you are flying in, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the closest airport to the park. The drive is around one and a half hours.

Related Reading: Visit Glacier National Park: Everything You Need to Know

You can rent a car here

Where to Stay in Mt. Rainier National Park

Top Pick: Mountain Meadows Inn 

Located in Ashford, the Mountain Meadows Inn offers a sun terrace and free private parking. Free wifi is available throughout the property. The inn offers guests simple and comfortable rooms which include a seating area and private bathroom. Mount Rainier National Park is located 10km away.

Related Reading: Hikes Near Seattle that You Just Have to Try

Top Pick: Copper Creek Inn

The Copper Creek Inn is located in Ashford near Mount Rainier National Park. The property offers free wifi access and private parking. The inn offers both cabins and suites with select units offering a living room and kitchens.

There is an onsite restaurant where guests can enjoy meals. This is one of the best places to stay while exploring the areas hiking trails.

Top Pick: Chalet at Mt. Rainier

The Chalet at Mt. Rainier is a comfortable holiday home. This property features 3 bedrooms, a TV and an equipped kitchen which includes a dishwasher and washing machine. Guests can enjoy free wifi and private parking. Enjoy the luxury of a holiday home with wonderful garden views. 

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There is just so much more to see and experience here in Mount Rainier National Park! From Old-growth forests, fields of wildflowers, cedar trees, and subalpine meadows to other epic trails, you are sure to come back for more!

If you are looking for spectacular hiking trails, incredible views, and the perfect natural environment, then be sure to make a stop at Mount Rainier National Park.

Written by Jarrod. Jarrod is the man behind Ramble Around the World. The blog aims to bring its readers honest, informative tips and guides for camping, hiking and adventure travel to National Parks and other outdoor paradises.

Mount Rainier Hiking, Best Mount Rainier Hikes
This post has been updated and republished.

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