Tolmie Peak Lookout at Mount Rainier
Hike description: Arriving at the Tolmie Peak Lookout, it’s easy to see why it is one of the classic hiking destinations in Mount Rainier National Park.
As the hiking season for this trail winds down (the park expects to close the road to the trailhead on Oct. 24), it’s well worth squeezing in a trip to this multi-mountain viewpoint. The trail starts at Mowich Lake, where only parts of Mount Rainier are visible and only from a few locations at the lake.
After traveling along Mowich Lake via the Wonderland Trail, you’ll reach the turnoff for Eunice Lake and Tolmie Peak. Before you make the turn, walk another 200 feet to the top of Ipsut Pass. Here you can look down into the steep, green drainage and get a sense for just how challenging it is to hike the entire 93-mile Wonderland Trail.
Back on the trail to Tolmie, your route will dip before climbing to Eunice Lake. Here, your destination comes into view. The lookout sits atop the ridge overlooking the lake’s pristine blue waters. If reaching the lookout seems like too much work, the lake also makes a delightful destination.
It’s a shade under a mile from the lake to the lookout, and you’ll climb most of the way. It won’t take long to get a sense of the view that awaits up top.
Rainier comes into view, dominating the horizon beyond Eunice Lake. From the lookout, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Mount St. Helens are added to the view.
Take some time to enjoy this spot before considering your next move. You can return the way you came. Or, it’s a short scramble farther to reach the top of Tolmie Peak. It’s an easy scramble, but should be attempted only by those comfortable traveling over uneven and exposed terrain.
Directions: Follow state Route 165 past Carbonado and over the Fairfax Bridge, then turn right following the sign directing you to Mowich Lake. The dirt road ends at Mowich Lake, but don’t forget to stop at the park entrance to pay the parking fee.
Difficulty rating: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 6.5 miles.
Elevation gain: 1,700 feet.
Best time of the year: Late May-early October.
Map: Green Trails 269: Mount Rainier West.
Pass: A 7-day park entry pass is $25 per vehicle.
Also: Tolmie Peak is one of four fire lookouts in Mount Rainier National Park. The others are Mount Fremont, Gobbler’s Knob and Shriner Peak. Dogs are not allowed on Mount Rainier National Park trails. Traditional geocaches are not allowed in national parks, but a virtual cache is located at the lookout. Visit geocaching.com for more information.