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.

Its landscape boasts glacier lakes, year-round snow-capped peaks and trails, flora that blooms pink and purple, waterfalls that will take your breath away. Not to mention 1,000-year-old trees that rival some of the largest in the world. You don’t want to miss a visit to Mount Rainier National Park and the best hikes it has to offer.

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 payoff 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. After driving up the winding Sunrise Park Road, taking in the mountainous terrain filled with creek and waterfall sightings, and reaching the Sunrise Visitor Center standing in the shadows of the towering Mount Rainier. 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 lake. And up a mountainside 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 always frozen and snow-covered Mount Rainier to the west and rolling green pastures to the east.

Take a seat on the tall rocks behind the fire lookout. And enjoy the scenery with the few people who venture to the end of the 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 — is a trailhead located a few steps outside the Paradise Visitor Center. The Skyline Trail’s distinct beauty is met by its extreme accessibility for all visitors. 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 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.

Despite going through some of the most beautiful terrains in the park that includes trails of heavily packed snow, waterfalls flowing with clear glacier water and panoramic views that extend your vision to the likes of Mt. Hood in the neighbouring state of Oregon, 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 as the snowiest place on planet earth.

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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 pristine 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 many health benefits that go along with hiking and is more about taking in the unobstructed views of the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier reflecting off of Tipsoo Lake in the backdrop.

The 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 Tipsoo waters, surrounded by towering pines and soft snow, create a reflecting mirror effect of the monstrous Mount Rainier in the backdrop that’s sure to create some of your favourite 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, but there are many more sides to the amazing park, which was established in 1899 as the fifth National Park in the United States.

Grove of the Patriarchs Trail 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 — some standing hundreds of feet high with circumferences up to 50 feet around.

An opening takes hold and you finally feast your eyes on the Ohanapecosh River with a man-made walking bridge hovering above. Upon crossing the bridge, you’re thrown into the land of giant trees. Hundreds, if not thousands, sprung from the ground and even a few that have toppled over and have been left there to rest.

Narada Falls Trail

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

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. Thich 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.

The trail is steep and in reverse fashion. It begins with a stark decrease in elevation. Until you reach the bottom of Narada Falls. Saving the incline for last as you must get back to your vehicle in the parking lot about 1,000 feet above.

But it’s worth every second because Narada Falls is one of the most heavily flowing falls in the entire park and is certainly worth a visit. Even if you don’t want to hike the trail, the Falls’ accessibility allows you to get a great view 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

If you’ve ever seen pictures of the snow-capped Mount Rainier reflecting off calm waters, set in the backdrop of what seems like endless pine trees, it’s probably a picture from Reflection Lake. 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.

What separates Reflection Lake is its distance from Mount Rainier, making it the perfect place to see the tip of this snow-covered mountain perfectly, and its easy access directly off the road. there are three options for the Reflection Lake Trail.

You can get out of your vehicle at the parking lot and walk a few hundred feet to the vantage point. Enjoy taking a brisk walk along the trail that goes a quarter way around Reflection Lake. Or you can take the Reflection Lake Trail 1.8 miles to the base of Narada Falls.

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

Beginning with a semi-steep ascent on a dirt trail through towering pine and fir trees, sounds of flowing water bashing against rock begin echoing through the flora that’s all around. An opening takes hold and a walking bridge crosses the Ohanapecosh River flowing with white rapids tumbling down its stream.

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. 

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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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If you are looking for spectacular hiking trails, wonderful 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.


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