Vicinity Location: 65 miles southeast of Seattle.
From Portland, OR, take I-5 north. Exit I-5 at exit 68 and take Highway 12 east for about 64 miles, through Packwood. About 7.5 miles north of Packwood, turn left onto Highway 123. Follow Highway 123 for 16.3 miles and turn right, onto Mather Memorial Parkway, highway 410. Drive towards Chinook Pass for about 2.9 miles. The drive takes about 3 1/2 hours.
From Seattle, WA, take I-5 south. Exit on State Route 18/Auburn exit (before Tacoma). Exit using the second Auburn exit off Highway 18. This will be the exit for State Route 164. Drive through Enumclaw and turn left onto State Route 410. Drive about 43 miles towards Chinook Pass. From either Portland or Seattle, park at the Tipsoo Lake Picnic Area. It is the first large, paved parking area you come to, and will be on your left. Start from the upper end of the parking lot and look for the Naches Peak Loop trailhead.
No permits are needed to park at this location.
There are outhouses available at the trailhead. Bring your own water or filter water from lakes along the trail.
Length and Elevation:
Loop Trail length 4.5 Miles. Elevation gain 700 Feet and loss 700 feet. Total gain and loss is 1,400 Feet. Elevation at the trailhead is 4,600 feet, the turn-around elevation is 5,300 feet.
Naches Peak Trail, with connections to the Pacific Crest Trail #2000, and Eastside Trail.
Construction started on the Mather Memorial Parkway in 1927. It was originally called the “Naches Pass Highway”. The highway was renamed Mather Memorial Parkway, after Stephen T. Mather, when the highway was completed in 1932. Mather was the first director of the National Park Service. We have Mather to thank for the greenbelt of forest along the highway through both the National Park and the National Forests.
Review: July 24, 2005
To get the best views of Mount Rainier, hike the loop in a clockwise direction. If the main lot is full, try parking at the next area, just up the hill and walk along Tipsoo Lake back to the trailhead. From the upper end of the main parking lot, head towards Tipsoo Lake. Take the first trail to the left and head uphill towards Chinook Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail. There are a few switchbacks in the trees and then you come to the PCT where you turn right to cross Highway 410 on a log overpass. The trail continues uphill along the northern and eastern flanks of Naches Peak. The trail soon enters the William O. Douglass Wilderness and passes fields of wildflowers. In about ¾ mile from the overpass, you will walk past a couple of small lakes. If these are too crowded, there is a quieter lake about two miles farther.
The part of the trail along these lakes can be covered with snow until July. Continue uphill past fields of lupine, paintbrush. Just as you are about to leave the William O. Douglass Wilderness area and enter Mt. Rainier National Park, the trail forks. Turn right to leave the Pacific Crest Trail and continue downhill on the Naches Peak Trail. Some people hike down to Dewey Lake, which can be seen in the distance. Continuing down trail, Naches Peak is on your right. The trail soon comes to a popular rock that overlooks a small lake.
When the wind isn’t blowing, Mt. Rainier is reflected in the lake. The lake is set in a huge field of lupines and other wildflowers. Continue down the trail and enjoy awe-inspiring views of Mt. Rainier and more fields of wildflowers. The trail ends at Highway 410. Cross the road and walk around the lake, then back to where you parked. This trail gets crowded in the afternoon so go early.
The wildflowers on this trail are outstanding. The trail is safe for small children. The trail west of Chinook Pass is in Mt. Rainier National Park, and pets are not allowed on National Park Service trails.
This trail is a “must” hike in July for the outstanding wildflowers and great view of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. I think seeing the fields of lupine around an alpine lake with Mt. Rainier in the background is a picture perfect.
Enjoy the photos!