Thinking about taking some time this summer to explore what the mountains have to offer? Hiking in and around Mt. Rainier National Park is a wonderful way to explore the Pacific Northwest, soak in the natural beauty of the Cascades, and enjoy some recreation time with friends and family.
With hundreds of miles of trails to discover, the park offers a wide network spanning North to South, and East to West. See a full list of trails on the National Parks Service Site.
Our top three favorite trails in and around Mt. Rainier National Park:
- Crystal Mountain Trail (Dog Friendly) – The Crystal Mountain trail has a few different options depending on what kind of hike you are in the mood for. You can choose to start right in the base area, follow the Silver Creek Trail up to Henskin Lake, and continue along the trail up to the summit. This is about 5 miles. Follow the trail through wildflowers, sweeping views of the cascades, and of course, Mt. Rainier at the summit. From the summit, you can either choose to take a scenic gondola ride down, or complete the loop down via the Green Valley and Kelly’s Gap Road, or even out to the Northway Trail. This trail circumnavigates the ski area in about an 8 mile loop, with a 2450ft elevation gain.
- Norse Peak (Dog Friendly) – Located right out of the base area of Crystal Mountain, this trail is certainly steep, it’s surprisingly comfortable for gaining nearly 3,000 feet. Between long switchbacks there are a few flat segments to dull the pain of the uphill. The trail is dusty, but the views of colorful wildflowers will give you something pretty to admire while you climb. At the 4-mile mark, you’ll hit a junction just under the ridge line. Turn right to follow the Norse Peak View Trail. In just one more scrambly mile, you’ll reach the summit. There used to be a fire lookout up here, but the remains are pretty scant at this point. Thankfully, there are plenty of more interesting sights. On clear days, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Glacier Peak, and the Olympics are laid out on a perfectly photogenic horizon.
- Naches Peak Loop Trail – Explore the subalpine flower fields and breathtaking views of Mount Rainier. Late summer and fall brings an abundant supply of huckleberries. Half of the hike is on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Pets are not permitted on the west half of the loop trail which is inside Mount Rainier National Park.
To prepare for an enjoyable experience in the mountains, below are a few things to consider when planning your trip.
What to Bring Day Hiking:
These items should be on your hiking checklist:
- 10-20 liter daypack
- Weather-appropriate clothing (think moisture-wicking and layers)
- Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses for sun protection
- Hiking boots or trail running shoes (ideally waterproof)
- Lunch and snacks
- 1-2 liters of water
- Compass/GPS tool
- First-aid kit
See you on the trails!