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Overnight Backpacking Near Mt Rainier

Looking for a good sugestion for a first over nighter near the west side of Mt Rainier. Getting a permit for inside the park has proved to be really hard with it still being summer. Looking for some with great views and maybe just out of the park. 

4 Replies

@BlueLine There are some awesome and very accessible trails around the west-south border of the park. For a first overnighter, I'd recommend something like the Bertha May and Granite Lakes trail.

It's a fairly mellow hike and you can pick the distance you want to go- There are easy-to-find campsites around all three lakes you'll come to on the trail. (Granite lake is great for swimming!)

It is public land and shared space, so don't be surprised if you are sharing the trail with other hikers and trail users, but the views are incredible and the proximity to the park can't be beat!

Hope you find this helpful- Happy hiking!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @BlueLine, thanks for your question about overnight backpacking within or near Mt. Rainier National Park!

You’re absolutely right, getting a permit for inside the park during the summer can be very difficult, but it’s not impossible! If you decide to go on an overnight trip within the park, you have the option to walk up to the Ranger station on the day-of and request if there are any permits available for camp sites on the Wonderland trail. It’s a gamble so I would suggest calling the Ranger station to inquire about more details on that. Ranger station contact details are linked below.

Since @REI-ReinkeM has a great suggestion for an overnight just outside the park, here are my best suggestions within:

  • Spray Park Loop (16 Miles)
    • Acquire a permit at the Carbon River Ranger Station. There’s a lot of elevation gain and loss here but the mileage is just right and you’ll want to take it slow to soak in the views. If Spray Park is unavailable for permits, ask about going South from Mowich Lake to Golden Lakes. This would be an out-and-back
  • Going North from Longmire

If you’re willing to go North of Rainier, there are tons of overnight backpacking trips that you can do in the Cascades just off of I-90, dubbed the “Issaquah Alps,” that give you stunning views of Rainier. Take a look at some hikes South of Rainier as well.

There is a lot to choose from and if you live by an REI, I’d suggest chatting in-person or over the phone with one of our folks at your local store as they may have some more great suggestions for you. Best of luck and happy backpacking to you!

Hi @BlueLine, thanks for reaching out! In addition to the great recommendations from @REI-ReinkeM  and @Former community member, I would also suggest Summit Lake as another option.

It is located on the Northwest side of the park, off of Carbon River Road, and is 6 miles round trip on a moderate, well-established trail.

I like to camp at the lake, there are several campsites available, and then continue up to Summit Lake Peak, where you will be rewarded with amazing views of Mount Rainier.

Note: The forest service road from Carbon River Road is rough, so it is best to have a higher clearance car.

Happy Backpacking! 


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thank you guys for the responses. Some really good ideas that we look forward to using. 

We were able to get a permit for the Carbonado area and we're really exited about that. These will definently be in our future plans though