Mount Rainier National Park is arguably one of the most spectacular places to visit in the entire nation. Luckily for me, it’s right in my own backyard, so I’ve spent a lot of time out there. Trails with amazing views that criss-cross the park’s varied terrain are frequented by hikers and climbers during the summer months. The following is a list of my top picks for hikes I suggest you experience when you visit.
Camp Muir is a primary basecamp for many climbers attempting to summit Mount Rainier. The unmarked route is a constant uphill climb from the Paradise parking lot (5,420 feet), all the way up to Camp Muir (10,100 feet) in just 4.5 miles, most of which is on the Muir Snowfield. This can be a tough slog even for strong climbers. Epic views of the Cascades are the reward, as well as getting to climb with the different breed of adventurer that the higher altitudes of Rainier attract.
Accessed by the trailhead at Mowich Lake, the 13-mile round-trip hike to the top of this remnant volcanic vent is a must-do during the summer months. While you’re in the area you might as well check out Echo Rock.
You’ll start in the old growth but end up in the high alpine. This section of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail takes you to its highest point, 6,750-foot Panhandle Gap, on the mountain loop.
Craggy talus peaks surround the Crystal Lakes. During summer days this bowl heats up quickly, so hikers often cool off by plunging into the ice-cold water.
Gobblers Knob Fire Lookout
This 10-mile round-trip lookout hike doesn’t get much attention, mainly because of the forest-road driving that is required to reach the trailhead. Hike through meadows and past multiple lakes till eventually you enter the park and start the ascent. I set out to trail-run this route one evening and I’ll admit, sunset is the best time to be at the top.