Hike description: The Tatoosh Trail is best known for two things: Its relentless uphill route and the stunning views rewarding those who are up for the challenge.
A lookout was once perched atop 6,310-foot Tatoosh Peak, and it’s hard to imagine many places where a lookout would have better views. Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens are all within view. Rainier is closest and most dramatic, but the peak and the trail are outside the national park. This means dogs are allowed.
The trail starts climbing immediately from Forest Road 5270. Eventually hikers emerge from the trees below Tatoosh Ridge, where they can enjoy the views and the wildflowers.
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A sign gives hikers the option for a side trip to Tatoosh Lakes. From here, continue 1.5 miles along the ridge where you will find a path on the left side of the trail at about 5,800 feet above sea level. This path leads upward to the top of Tatoosh Peak.
When you finish basking in the scenery, return the way you came. Your knees will likely appreciate a pair of trekking poles for the long downhill trip back to the car.
Directions: From state Route 706 heading toward Mount Rainier National Park, turn right on Kernahan Road (which will become Skate Creek Road) and drive toward Packwood. After about 19 miles, turn left on Forest Road 5270. Follow the road for about 7 miles to the trailhead.
Difficulty rating: 4 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 9.
Elevation gain: 3,300 feet.
Best time of the year: Late July-October.
Map: Green Trails 302: Packwood.
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass.
Also: This area is also a popular destination for backpackers. Tatoosh is one of the peaks that make up The Mountaineers’ 15 hiking peaks of Mount Rainier as outlined in the 2013 Mickey Eisenberg and Gene Yore book “Guide to the 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park” (The Mountaineers Books). Those who hike all 15 and log their trips at peakbagger.com receive a free medallion. The peak can also be reach via the Tatoosh Trail from the end of Forest Road 5290. This route is longer (11.4 miles) and requires more climbing (4,600 feet). Dogs must be on a leash. There are no geocaches hidden along the route, but there are few in the area that can be accessed while traveling to or from the trailhead. For more information, visit geocaching.com.