Top 5: Day Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
Naturalist and outdoorsman John Muir called Mount Rainier’s glaciated dome “awful in bulk and majesty, filling all the view like a separate, new-born world.” Modern-day visitors can simply drive to the national park and undertake a day hike for fantastic views of this enormous, active volcano just 60 miles from Seattle.
Glacier Vista-Panorama Point
This hike takes a long time to melt out from under several feet of snow in the summer, but when it does, glistening meadows stretch in all directions. You’ll find scores of wildflowers, trickling streams and wildlife-like marmots, chipmunks, bears and mountain goats. The trail never leaves the mountain’s gaze, and you’ll end at a scenic point for up-close views of the Nisqually Glacier.
Popular in fall when the area bursts with color, Noble Knob is a relatively flat trail that offers big views of Mount Rainier. You’ll also spot alpine lakes and have a 360-degree view of the surrounding Cascade Mountains at the end.
This trail is interesting right away, as it starts at the cerulean waters of Mowich Lake before heading to equally beautiful Eunice Lake. The trail then climbs a ridge to the Tolmie Peak fire lookout, where you can sit a while and gaze at Mount Rainier — and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Puget Sound and Seattle.
What this trail lacks in big views of the mountain, it makes up for in wild scenery. You’ll pass through pristine forest laced with clear streams and hike alongside a raging river before entering the Glacier Basin moonscape.
Hikers are immediately rewarded with views of Mount Rainier from the parking lot. This easy hike traverses tundra and meadow before ending at windswept Mount Fremont, perched with a historic fire lookout.