Mount Rainier National Park is a wonderland for Northwest hiking. This area surrounding our tallest peak in Washington provides a scenic outdoor playground for visitors of all ages and skill levels. You can take short, family-friendly trails here through alpine meadows, or longer, steeper hikes for more of a strenuous challenge. These are just a few of our favorites.
1. Naches Peak Loop
Difficulty: Easy (3.2 miles round-trip)
Naches Peak Loop kicks off by Tipsoo Lake, and leads along a hillside through lovely grassy meadows for about 3.2 miles round-trip. It’s an easygoing walk with only about 600 feet of elevation gain, making it a great option if you’re looking to bring your little ones.
2. Comet Falls
Difficulty: Easy (3.8 miles round-trip)
Comet Falls is one of the tallest cascades in the park, and it’s not actually a long, strenuous hike at all. The trail winds along Van Trump Creek for less than four-miles round-trip, climbing up a hill and over some log bridges to the thundering 320-foot falls.
3. Summerland Trail
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult (8.4 miles round-trip)
As you can probably tell by the name, Summerland’s prime time to visit is July-September. At about 8.4 miles round-trip, the trail takes you on a lengthy day trip through beautiful alpine meadows. In the summer, vibrant wildflowers are blooming, and the views of Fryingpan Glacier, Little Tahoma, Goat Island Mountain, and Mount Rainier are second to none.
4. Grove of the Patriarch’s Loop
Difficulty: Easy (1.5 miles round-trip)
Grove Of The Patriarch’s Loop is a fun, easy hike that even the young ones can take on. The route crosses over this bouncy suspension bridge, and through old-growth forest for about a mile and a half total. Along the way, the trail features informative signs to help you distinguish the different types of trees and other points of interest.
After crossing the bridge, the path loops around a small mid-river island, where you’ll find even more ancient trees. Isolated on the island, these trees have been protected from local fires – which has allowed them to grow as enormous as they stand today.
5. Narada Falls
Difficulty: Easy (Less than a mile to the viewpoint)
You can’t go chasing waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park without taking the short trail to Narada Falls. This enchanting cascade plummets 188 feet in two tiers over a massive basalt rock wall. It’s crowned with a lovely concrete arch bridge just over the falls, and when it freezes solid in the wintertime, becomes a stunning hot spot for local ice climbers. From here, a lot of hikers like to continue on and follow the loop from the viewpoint to Reflection Lakes for a more moderate 5-mile loop.
6. Skyline Trail
Difficulty: Moderate (5.5 miles round-trip)
The Skyline Trail climbs up to Panorama Point, where you’ll get in-your-face views of Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier. It kicks off in the Paradise area on the southern slope of Rainier, leading up granite steps and through beautiful meadows lined with colorful wildflowers in the spring and summer. On a clear day, you’ll also catch views of Tatoosh Peaks, Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Hood in Oregon.
7. Spray Park
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult (8 miles round-trip)
At about 8 miles total with steep switchbacks, the trail to Spray Park may seem daunting, but of course the views are well rewarding. The trailhead starts off by the Mowich Lake campground, and leads up through Mount Rainier’s lovely meadows dotted with seasonal wildflowers. Keep on for a few miles, and you’ll be greeted with expansive vistas of Echo Rock, Observation Rock, and the grand Mount Rainier.
8. Tolmie Peak
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult (7.5 miles round-trip)
For more experienced hikers, Tolmie Peak offers a wonderful 7-and-a-half-mile hike to an old fire lookout. From up top, hikers can also marvel over front-row views of Rainier (which looks larger than ever from this viewpoint), and the vibrantly blue Eunice Lake.
For a complete list of trails in the park, click here to visit the National Park Service website.
Have you hiked any of these trails before? What are some of your favorite paths in Mount Rainier National Park?