Hiking Fremont Fire Lookout Trail in Mount Rainier National Park

Thinking about hiking the Mount Fremont Fire Lookout Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park? This blog will show you all you need to know to prepare your hike to Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout

<Updated 2024: You need to make a timed entry reservation to enter Sunrise between July 3 and Sep 2, from 7am to 3pm. Paradise needs a separate reservation>

Mount Rainier National Park is known for its incredible hiking trails. The Fremont Fire Lookout Trail happens to be one of the most beautiful and unique hikes in Mount Rainier. It is often ranked as the top 3 best hikes in Mount Rainier and it is definitely the best hike at Sunrise at Mt. Rainier! Having done the hike myself, I can totally see why this hike is so popular.

The Fremont Fire Lookout hike is one of those hikes that you enjoy the process as well as the rewarding summit view. As you hike towards the historical fire lookout, you are greeted with an incredible view of Mount Rainier, so you don’t need to wait till the end to enjoy the view.

In this blog, I will tell you everything you need to know about hiking the Mount Fremont Fire lookout trail so you can assess if this is a trail you are interested in doing, whether you are spending one day in Mount Rainier or 3 to 4 days in Mount Rainier National Park.

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Fremont Fire Lookout Trail General Information

Fremont Fire Lookout Trail distance: 5.5 miles roundtrip
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Elevation Gain: 1000 ft
Difficulty: Moderate, with some steep uphill
Pass Needed: Mt. Rainier National Park entrance pass or an America the Beautiful pass and Sunrise timed reservation in the summer
Parking Lot: Yes, at Sunrise Visitor Center
Bathroom: Yes, at trailhead and summit
Best Time to Hike Fremont Fire Lookout Trail: Early morning or sunset is the most popular time to hike Fremont Fire Lookout Trail

Fremont Fire Lookout Hiking Map
Trail map

Hiking Fremont Fire Lookout Trail

How to get to the Fremont Lookout trailhead

The Fremont Fire Lookout Trail starts near the Sunrise visitor center and Sunrise Day Lodge. There is a large parking lot but it tends to fill up fast especially on the weekend.

There will be plenty of signs at the trailhead so you definitely will not miss it. There is also a bathroom near the trailhead if you need it. Sunrise Day Lodge sells snacks and water if you need to pick something up before your hike.

Fremont Fire Lookout Visitor Center

Start on the Sunrise Nature Trail

The Fremont Lookout trailhead starts at 6,400 feet elevation at Sunrise. As you can see from the map above, the trail is consistent of 3 parts: Sunrise Nature Trail, Sourdough Ridge Trail and Fremont Trail. For the first part of the hike you will be hiking on Sunrise Nature Trail, as noted in green on the map.

This first part of the hike on Sunrise Nature Trail is very easy. You start off on a wide and flat gravel pass with wildflowers on both sides. The path gradually goes uphill just a little bit and you will see some wide steps.

Steps on the Sunrise Nature Trail

Sourdough Ridge Trail

After a short while, you will come across another sign, with most trails going to the left (and the Sunrise Nature Trail going to the right).

Sourdough Trail signs

Continue to follow the trail on the left for 0.1 mile to merge onto Sourdough Ridge Trail.

This part of the trail is a continuous uphill, with the sun behind you in the morning (which is why I recommended hiking the Fremont Fire Lookout Trail early in the morning)! As you hike up Sourdough ridge, you will shortly come to an open view (not of Mount Rainier sorry), but of the cascade range.

There are some pretty steep (but short) part on this incline, but it will level out pretty fast!

Open view on Sourdough Trail
Open View
hiking mount fremont lookout trail in Mount Rainier

As you continue to follow the Sourdough Ridge Trail, you will be wrapping around the mountain with a view of Mount Rainier in front of you. This is when this hike starts to get really pretty and interesting.

view of Mt. Rainier on the Sourdough Ridge Trail

After about a mile of walking on this path, the trail will start going up again, this time to the famous Frozen Lake View Point. After a short uphill, you will now see Frozen Lake on your right. At this point, you have already hiked 1.4 miles from the trailhead!

Frozen Lake on Fremont Fire Lookout Hike

Frozen Lake is pretty much the half way mark to Fremont Fire Lookout. This part of the trail is flat and open, so it is perfect to stop here for a quick drink and snack, before spending the rest of the trail gradually going uphill.

Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

After you walk past Frozen Lake, the trail will now split 4 ways. To the left you have First Burroughs Mountain Trails as well as a trail to Berkeley Park. You will go right towards Mount Fremont Lookout Trail.

The trail now is completely open and exposed, with no trees in sight. The Fremont Lookout trail is a gradual uphill from this point on. If I have to be honest, this part of the trail is quite boring as you leave Mount Rainier behind you.

Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

As you can see in the photo above, the trail goes up to a hill and it will continue to wrap around the hill until the end (the fire lookout). But it is not super steep, just more of a gradual incline.

As you walk closer to the Fremont Fire Lookout and wrapping around this hill, the path becomes more narrow and rocky with nothing on your left side.

Fremont Fire Lookout Trail
still not too rocky yet

If you are scared of heights, you may not like this part of the trail very much (I was a little scared but in all honestly it’s not that bad).

Fremont Fire lookout Trail
The path is getting much more rocky

But don’t worry, you are almost there! As you wrap around the corner, you will come to a more open field and see the Fremont Fire Lookout yay!

There is a rocky hill directly in front of the fire lookout, this is actually the perfect place to take photos of the lookout.

Mt. Fremont Firelookout

There are a lot of open space for you to sit on while enjoying the view of the lookout as well as Mount Rainier on the other side. Most people stop here to eat lunch and take photos.

You can go up the fire lookout (inside is locked), but it can get crowded as more people start to come. I heard that if you hike Fremont Fire Lookout during sunset, it can be super crowded!

Fremont fire lookout hike

Spend some time walking around this area, take some nice photos of Mount Rainier before heading back the same direction.

Mt. Fremont lookout mt. raininer view

Remember how I said earlier that the sun was behind us when we were walking on the Sourdough Ridge Trail? Well now it’s probably around noon and the sun is high up in the sky, you really don’t have any shades anymore.

Now that you are walking back the way you came, you will have the direct view of Mount Rainier on your rocky walk back. Then you will Mount Rainier behind you once you come down from the hill near Frozen Lake.

When you are near the Fremont Fire Lookout trailhead, be sure to check out the wild flowers if you weren’t able to really spend time looking at them earlier.

Wild flowers on Fremont Fire lookout hike

What to bring to the Fremont Fire Lookout Hike

Water and snack: I would suggest at least 2 liters of water on the Fremont Fire Lookout hike. This hike has no shade so you will definitely appreciate having enough water with you. I generally use a hiking backpack with a hydration pouch making it a lot easier to drink.

Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses: The Fremont Fire Lookout Trail is almost entirely exposed and it can be very sunny and hot in the summer. To avoid sun damage, be sure to have adequate sun protection.

Hiking Shoes: Hiking shoes is definitely a plus on the Fremont Lookout Trail especially during the rocky section towards the end. The last thing you want is to twist your ankle before you summit.

Hiking Poles I would recommend using hiking poles on the Fremont Lookout trail since it can be steep and rocky at certain parts.

Camera: any camera or iPhone would do! I personally use a Sony Alpha a7iii with a Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 lens and a wide angle lens for this hike.

Park Pass and Sunrise Timed Entry Reservation: If you are visiting in the summer between July 3 to Sep 2 between 7am to 3pm, you need to make a timed entry reservation to enter Sunrise (costs $2).

Is Mt Fremont Fire Lookout Trail worth it?

Being the best hike at sunrise, Mt Fremont Fire Lookout offers you an unique and different hiking experience. It offers one of the best views of Mt Rainier and it is one of the few hikes where you can check out a historical fire lookout tower.

So yes, Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail is worth the effort. If you are stopping by Sunrise at Mt. Rainier then you need to hike Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout.

Read My Other Mount Rainier National Park Blogs

If you are planning to spend a few days in Mount Rainier and do some hikes, see some waterfalls and lakes, I highly recommend you check out my other Mount Rainier blogs to help you plan your trip.

The Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
Skyline Trail Loop: What you need to know
Hiking Tolmie Peak: All you need to know
How to Spend 1 day in Mount Rainier for Hikers and Non-Hikers
3 to 4 days in Mount Rainier in the summer

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