Perfect for families with young hikers, this easy-going, 4.1-mile loop visits several mountain pools and showcases jaw-dropping views of Mount Rainier. From the parking area north of Chinook Pass, hike to a T-junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Turn left onto the PCT and head south to Chinook Pass. At the pass, bear left and cross a bridge over WA 410. The trail passes avalanche lilies, lupines, and paintbrush and enters William O. Douglas Wilderness after half a mile. Less than a mile later, skirt a picturesque tarn nestled between a few fir trees, then climb southeast toward a saddle.
Just past the saddle, the trail swings west and enters Mount Rainier National Park. Bear right at the Y-junction above Dewey Lake (mile 1.8) and climb west. Keep your camera handy: Mount Rainier makes its first appearance 400 feet past the junction. Continue another 0.3 mile and take a break at a popular viewpoint overlooking Rainier and colorful wildflower meadows. From here, the route gradually descends to WA 410. Cross WA 410 and hike along the shores of Tipsoo Lake. Finish the hike by climbing the open slopes above the lake and following the trail back to Chinook Pass. Turn left onto the PCT for the short hike back to the parking area.
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-camping-and-hiking.htm.
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations requests accepted by fax or mail, starting on March 15th of each year ($20/reservation). Download form at nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-reservation-information.htm.
CONTACT Mt. Rainier National Park, (360) 569-2211; nps.gov/mora
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography