Hiking the Tolmie Peak Lookout Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park
Tolmie Peak Hike is one of the best hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park. This blog will tell you everything you need to know to hike the Tolmie Peak Lookout trail
Tolmie Peak Lookout is located in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park near Mowich Lake. The hike features a historical fire lookout tower (one of the only 4 remaining fire lookouts in the park), wildflowers, direct view of Mt. Rainier and a lake through subalpine meadows.
At the fire lookout tower, you will have the panoramic view of surrounding peaks. It is the first hike we did in Mount Rainier NP and also one of our favorites. [no_toc]
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Tolmie Peak Lookout Trail General Information
How to get to Tolmie Peak Trail
The Tolmie Peak Trail is located about 2 hours southeast of Seattle. The trailhead is located in the Carbon River & Mowich Lake part of Mt. Rainier National Park. Google Map can direct you directly to the Tolmie Peak Trailhead.
You can drive down SR165 South (but note that Mowich Lake Rd. is closed during the winter). The last 15 mile or so of the road to the trailhead is unpaved but you can do this drive with a sedan or SUV. There wasn’t too many potholes on the unpaved part thankfully.
Parking at Tolmie Peak Trail
There is a parking lot at Tolmie Peak trailhead that fits about 50 cars. However since Tolmie Peak Lookout is not in the popular Paradise or Sunrise part of Mt. Rainier National Park, parking was not too difficult on a weekday during peak summer season.
We arrived around 9:30am on a Friday and there were still a lot of empty parking spots. I would suggest arriving earlier on a weekend in the summer though. You can also park along the road and the trail actually can start on the road (instead of at the campground).
Details of the Tolmie Peak Lookout Trail
The easiest way to start the Tolmie Peak trail is to go to the campground and the trail is across from the bathroom (it will say Wonderland Tr.). The sign actually does not say “Tolmie Peak” which got us confused, but you will head towards Eunice Lake which is 2.4 miles away. There is another trail near the bathroom called Spray Park, make sure you do not go on that trail by accident (which we almost did).
The trail starts nice and easy near Mowich Lake, which is the largest and deepest lake in Mount Rainier National Park (you can fish and do non-motorized boating on this lake).
The trail wraps around the lake on its left hand side and if you are there early enough you will catch a nice reflection of the mountain and trees. After about 15 minutes, you will start going moderately uphill, but the trail is all in the shade in the forest.
After about another 15-20 minutes, you will see a sign pontint towards Eunice Lake and Tolmie Peak. Follow the sign to go left towards Tolmie Lake.
The trail starts to get a lot steeper in the woods once you turn but it does level out occasionally. During this part of the hike you will start to see more mosquitoes but it only gets worse! After a while you will actually see the lookout on the mountain (which seems so high up).
You will now see Eunice Lake on your right after all the uphill and there are a lot of wildflowers when we went in late July. It is a very nice place to take a break and you may actually see people dipping their feet in the water.
However be warned that there are A LOT of mosquitoes. When we were taking photos at the lake there were maybe 50 mosquitoes that landed on us eww.
Enjoy your time here before going up the steep exposed switchbacks. This part of the trail is about a mile and the trail is above the tree line so make sure you have sunscreen and a hat. Although the switchbacks are tough, you will start to see Mt. Rainier and Lake Eunice on your right, making the uphill battle more enjoyable.
The switchbacks last about 0.5 miles before you finally reach the lookout. When we went there there were fewer mosquitoes after we climbed up the tower (there were still a lot even at the base of the lookout).
Note that there is no cellular service up here. I highly recommend that you download the offline map so you know how to get back after the hike.
What to bring to hike the Tolmie Peak Trail
Water: I would suggest at least 1.5 – 2 liters of water as the hike has a lot of uphill and part of the hike is exposed
Where to Stay in Mt. Rainier National Park
We had driven from Seattle to Tolmie Peak hike directly as this was our first day in Mt. Rainier NP. However if you are staying near the park or visiting for a few days, I would suggest the following places to stay.
Other Mount Rainier Resources & Guides
To help you plan the perfect Mount Rainier trip, I have a number of helpful blogs on the various hikes in Mount Rainier. Be sure to use them to plan your Mount Rainier holiday now!
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