5 Breathtaking Hikes to Take at Mount Rainier National Park

History and beauty mix on the mountains 

Nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on Earth.

The park was established in 1899 as America's fourth national park and is home to more than 25 glaciers and snowfields, as well as old-growth forests and dozens of lakes. The highlight of the park is, of course, Mount Rainier itself.

The massive 14,410-foot peak is the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range and an active stratovolcano volcano. Thousands of people flow to the mountain every year to glimpse its stunning glaciers and attempt mountaineering to the summit.

However, even if you don't want to attempt to summit Mount Rainier, plenty of breathtaking hikes offer stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding area. Here are five of the best:

Silver Falls Trail

While most visitors to Mount Rainier expect cold winds, high elevation, and steep climbs up to glaciers — the Silver Falls Trail is a nice option for those looking for something a bit more mellow.

Lush green forests await you on your relaxing hike, and a stop near Silver Falls offers a gorgeous view of a postcard-esque waterfall. If you start to feel a bit hot on your hike, take a quick swim in the river where the waterfall flows. It's also the perfect place to sit and have a picnic lunch.

Total Distance: 2.92 miles

Elevation Gain: 518 feet

Difficulty: Easy - Hiking

Route Type: Loop

Other Info:

  • This trail offers the ability to go for a swim in the waterfall area
  • This trail is kid friendly but has some steep areas
  • Dogs must be leashed on this trail

Tolmie Peak Trail

Ready to challenge yourself a bit more? Tolmie Peak trail is perfect for a mid-level hike that can test your endurance.

You'll be rewarded with some of the most incredible views of Mount Rainier — especially if you time your hike right and catch the sunset over the mountain. 

The trail is also ideal for those looking to see some of the park's wildlife like deer and bears, who use the lake that the trail passes over as a water source. 

Total Distance: 3.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1541 feet

Difficulty: Moderate -  Hiking

Route Type: Out & Loop

Other Info:

  • The roads leading to this trail can be closed during the winter months due to weather
  • No dogs allowed on this trail
  • Many of the footbridges can wash out during the colder and rainy months, so be aware of the weather
  • It takes around 40 minutes of travel down a gravel road to get to this trail
  • It can sometimes get foggy on this trail which can affect your viewing experience from the lookouts

Naches Peak Loop Trail

Whether it's fall colors or spring blooms, the Naches Peak Loop Trail is always popular with all hiking levels.

While the trail has some stairs and upgrown tree roots you need to be aware of, most of this hike is incredibly easy with a gradual uphill grade. The views of Mount Rainier are always considered a highlight, but many hikers absolutely fall in love with the wildflower meadow.  Located near the lake at the start of the trail, this area is perfect for capturing that stunning photo.

Total Distance: 3.29 miles

Elevation Gain: 636 feet

Difficulty: Easy - Hiking

Route Type: Loop

Other Info:

  • Dogs must be leashed on this trail
  • You can extend this hike with another trail off the path that takes you up to Dewey Lake where you can take a swim. 
  • It can sometimes get foggy on this trail which can affect your viewing experience from the lookouts

Skyline Trail Loop

Ready to kick that difficulty up a notch for you experienced hikers out there?  

Skyline Trail Loop takes you to a delightful peak in Mount Rainier National Park, and doesn't require any technical climbing experience.

This trail offers some of the most incredible views of glaciers, waterfalls and mountain peaks —  but a highlight of this trail is it is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure. With tons of shortcuts and ways to either extend or reduce the amount of hiking time, you can tailor this hike to your specific fitness level.

Total Distance: 6.21 miles

Elevation Gain: 1788 feet

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard - Hiking (depending on if you choose to take shortcuts through other trails)

Route Type: Loop

Other Info:

  • No dogs allowed on this trail
  • This trail is rocky in areas, so proper footwear is recommended
  • Many areas are very slippery when wet so watch the weather and your footing as you hike up
  • A higher physical fitness level or past hiking experience is recommended

Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail

If you are looking to get closer to the star of the park, Mount Rainier, without needing to mountaineer, Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail is a must-do hike. 

This trail offers some of the most incredible views of Mount Rainier and extremely unique landscapes you won't see anywhere else in the park. 

You’ll actually be up in the clouds on this trail. So be prepared for the weather to change quickly — you might even find yourself hiking in a dense fog.

Total Distance: 9.38 miles

Elevation Gain: 2562 feet

Difficulty: Hard - Hiking

Route Type: Loop

Other Info:

  • It gets very cold and windy at the top of this trail, so dress appropriately
  • This trail is only recommended for experienced hikers as the terrain can be challenging in areas
  • No dogs are allowed on this trail
  • This is a day hike, so be sure to start early to avoid being caught in the dark

No matter your hiking level, Mount Rainier National Park has a trail for you. With so many incredible views, it's hard to pick only five hikes — but these are definitely some of the most breathtaking choices in the park. 

So lace up those hiking boots, pack some snacks and water, and prepare for an adventure.

Happy trails!