5 epic hikes in Mt. Rainier - Mt. Fremont Lookout trail

Planning a summer vacation? Ditch the beach and take an epic west coast trip. Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State is truly one of the gems of the national parks system. A trip to the area won’t be complete without hitting the trails. Here are 5 epic hikes to make your time in the park an epic adventure. Note that weather and time of year play a key factor in visiting the park and being able to complete these hikes. Our trip took place in August and the weather more than cooperated. For more information about when to visit, go to https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm.

Airports close to Mt. Rainer:

First thing’s first, how to get to Mt. Rainier. Sure you can drive miles and miles to get there, but to truly optimize your adventure, check out one of the smaller airports nearby.

KPLU – Pierce County Airport – Thun Field – 25 miles northwest of Mt. Rainier.


Piece County Airport

The runway at Thun Field, measuring 3,650 feet long by 60 feet wide, is capable of handling all general aviation aircraft, from light sport to small business jets.

Click here for Pilot operations


Tacoma Narrows Airport (TIW) – 64 miles northwest of Mt. Rainier.

Tacoma Narrows Airport

Tacoma Narrows Airport

The Tacoma Narrows Airport (TIW) is a public 568-acre general aviation facility. TIW is Pierce County’s primary business jet facility. Approximately 190 aircraft are based at the airport and nearly 94,000 operations (takeoffs and landings) occur each year.

Click here for pilot operations


Olympia Regional Airport (KOLM) – 65 miles northwest of Mt. Rainier


Olympia Regional Airport

Olympia Regional Airport is a general aviation public airport offering aircraft service and maintenance operations, flight instruction, hangars and tie down space, state and corporate aviation facilities, and land and buildings available for lease for aviation-related use. There are two runways here with the longest being 5,501′ long.

Click here for pilot operations


Top 5 hikes:

#1 Comet Falls

5 epic hikes in Mt. Rainier - Comet Falls trail

Bloucher Falls

Elevation gain: 1279′

Distance: 3.2 miles (out and back)

Difficulty: Moderate

Region: Longmire

Tip: The parking lot is small. To secure a spot, arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon

For any fans of waterfalls, this is a must. At 380′ feet these majestic falls are some of the tallest in the park. But this hike isn’t all about Comet Falls, as an added bonus, you will find multiple smaller waterfalls and plenty of scenery along the way. Gaining 1300′ feet in less than 2 miles gives you a good idea about the steep grade in the hike. The effort is worth the reward, as Comet Falls is one of the best waterfall hikes in our national park system. If you have some more energy continue on the trail to Van Trump Park for a beautiful meadow with amazing views.


#2 Tolmie Peak Lookout

5 epic hikes in Mt. Rainier - Tolmie Peak Trail

Tolmie Peak – view of Eunice Lake

Elevation gain: 1541′

Distance: 5.6 miles (out and back)

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Region: Carbon River

Tip: Trail can be mosquito heavy – bug spray is a must

Leave the crowds and venture out to the Carbon Region of Mt Rainier National Park. This area requires a bit of a drive off the beaten path complete with some gravel road driving. Hike around Mowich and Eunice Lakes on the way to a fire watch tower on Tolmie Peak. Once at the top get a breathtaking view of Mt. Rainier with its reflection in the lake below. This postcard worthy view will make the steep accent worth every step.


#3 Skyline trail Loop

5 epic hikes in Mt. Rainier - Skyline Trail

Epic views along the way

Elevation gain: 1788′

Distance: 6.2 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Region: Paradise

Tip: Snow may remain on parts of the trail, consider bringing spikes earlier in the season

If you only have one day in Mt. Rainier and can only complete one hike, this would be it. The only problem is that this is the worst-kept secret in the park, so expect lots of company on this trail. Regardless of the lack of solitude, the hike is worth every step. Dramatic vistas of Mt. Rainier await. Mile for mile, this might be one of the most scenic trails in the national park system. There are waterfalls, creek crossings, and views for days. Make this #1 on your list. What else would you expect from a hike in a region called “Paradise?”


#4 Mt.Fremont Lookout Trail

5 epic hikes in Mt. Rainier - Mt. Fremont Lookout trail

Mt Fremont Lookout Tower

Elevation gain: 1112′

Distance: 5.7 miles (out and back)

Difficulty: Moderate

Region: Sunrise

Tip: There is limited parking in this area, plan to set out early in the morning to secure a spot

Follow a rocky ridge to a fire watch tower for spectacular 360˚ mountain views. Be on the lookout for mountain goats as they frequent the area. If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the hike for you as you are traveling along an exposed ridge with steep drop-offs and Mt. Rainier in constant sight. If mountain vistas is your thing, this hike will not disappoint.


#5 The Burroughs

5 epic hikes in Mt. Rainier - Burroughs Mountain trail

Close to Mt. Rainier

Elevation gain: 2496′

Distance: 8.9 miles (out and back)

Difficulty: Moderate/difficult

Region: Sunrise

Tip: Snow may remain on parts of the trail, consider bringing spikes earlier in the season.

Opposite the Fremont Lookout Trail (you can see the fire tower on your way up the mountain), this trail offers even closer views of Mt. Rainier. So close in fact, you feel as if you can reach out and touch it. Most of this trail is exposed, so you will be sure to have amazing views for the duration of the hike. If you have extra energy, you could combine this with the Fremont Lookout Trail and make it one mega epic journey.


For hiking gear recommendations, Hit the Trail with Flight Outfitters Gear

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