This is a great hike for any time of the year for the views of Mount Rainier, but you must try it during wildflower season.
The Naches Peak Download
Highlights: A must for wildflower season.
Travel Time (from Urban Centers to Park/Trailhead): Almost two hours from Seattle, about 1 ½ hours from Tacoma, 3 hours from Portland.
Nearby Supplies and Gas: Enumclaw and Buckley.
Stop Along the Way: Wapiti Woolies in Greenwater, Wash., for coffee, huckleberry ice cream, gifts.
Difficulty: Virtually care-free, leaving plenty of energy to behold all the beauty and explore.
Distance: 3.5 miles (loop).
Entrance Fees: None, but if you park in the state lot, you’ll need a Discovery Pass.
Top Elevation: 5,845 feet.
Elevation Gain: 500 feet.
Trailhead Waypoint: 46.8674, -121.5176
Maps: Green Trails Mount Rainier East No. 270.
Getting There: From Enumclaw, drive about 44 miles south on WA-410 to Chinook Pass. Park in the lot for Tipsoo Lake.
(NOTE: Clicking on an image opens full-sized version).
Another issue to resolve: You will do this hike during wildflower season. It’s one of the most spectacular places to view wildflowers at Mount Rainier.
Make things easy on yourself and park at the Tipsoo Lake lot. Jump out and either circle Tipsoo or head right up the somewhat steep incline, across the highway and onto the Pacific Crest Trail. Yes, you can bring your canine buddy – but only until you get to the border of Mount Rainier National Park. The PCT side is rolling meadows, valley views and eventually a good-sized tarn.
The alpine meadows, bursting with color during wildflower season, stretch into killer views of Mount Rainier. Early or late in the day, you likely can get Rainier reflections in one of the two smaller tarns. Continue on and, at the road, make sure you stop and take a gander at the small tarn there, too, then catch Tipsoo Lake, again or for the first time.