Skyline Trail Hike

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier Area, Washington

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Skyline Trail Hike
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  • View looking south at the Paradise Lodge and Tatoosh Range from the Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • View south toward the Tatoosh Range and Mount Adams (12,281').- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park from the Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • View south to the Tatoosh Range and Mount St. Helens (8,365').- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Hoary marmot (Marmota caligata) on the Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Hoary marmot (Marmota caligata) chewing on a hiker's old sock.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Climbers in pursuit of Camp Muir on Paradise Park, Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: View south to the Tatoosh Range, Goat Rocks and Mount Adams.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Mount Rainier (14,411') and Nisqually Glacier from Paradise Park, Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: View south of the Tatoosh Range, Goat Rocks and Mount Adams (12,281').- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Mount Rainier (14,411') and Nisqually Glacier from Paradise Park, Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Mount Rainier and Nisqually/Wilson Glacier from the departure point for Camp Muir.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Nisqually Glacier and side waterfalls from the Wilson Glacier.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: A climber departing for Camp Muir.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Panoramic view south of the Tatoosh Range with Mount Adams (12,281') and Mount St. Helens (8,365') in view.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: Trail leading up to Panorama Point.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Western bistort (Polygonum bistortoides).- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: Snowfield crossing.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • View south to the Tatoosh Range and Mount St. Helens (8,365').- Skyline Trail Hike
  • View looking back at Paradise Lodge and Eagle Peak (5,958').- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Leafybract aster (Aster foliaceus) and western bistort (Polygonum bistortoides).- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Mount Rainier (14,411') and Paradise Park from the Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: Passing over a stream stemming from Paradise Glacier.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail: Passing over a stream stemming from Paradise Glacier.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park and the Tatoosh Range.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Mount Rainier (14,411') and Paradise Park from the Skyline Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Paradise Park, Mount Rainier National Park.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Clouds open up just enough for some light to shine on the Tatoosh Range while hiking along the Golden Gate Cutoff Trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Full meadows and the Tatoosh Range from the Stevens Van Trump Memorial.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Full meadows and the Tatoosh Range from the Stevens Van Trump Memorial.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • A verdant patch of many species of flowers in a small basin near the Stevens Van Trump Memorial.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • The landscape changes significantly as elevation is gained and lost along the trail.- Skyline Trail Hike
  • Mist reflects off afternoon light above a full garden near the southeast section of the loop- Skyline Trail Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Highest non-mountaineering trail in Mount Rainier National Park. Panoramic vistas. Wildflowers.
Cons: 
Heavily used area. No backcountry campsites.
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Region:
Mount Rainier Area, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,400.00 ft (426.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
5.40 mi (8.69 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,400.00 ft (1,645.92 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

This hike on the Skyline Trail leads to arguably the most well-known and visited subalpine meadow in all of North America, Mount Rainier's Paradise Park, which draws outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. High altitude, southern exposure, and massive amounts of precipitation (on average 126 inches of annual rainfall and 680* inches of snowfall in the winter) create a landscape that comes alive when the snows melt in late summer to reveal some of Washington's best hiking.

For the few months every year when soil is greeted by sunlight, the volcano's southern slopes erupt with lush meadows of violet and yellow asters, white-topped western bistort, lupine, and various shades of paintbrush. Snowmelt culminates into streams lined with vibrant yellow and magenta monkeyflower. Streams turn to creeks cascading over volcanic rock, and visitors are greeted by the high-pitched chirp of hoary marmots and pikas. Spend enough time here and you'll see the occasional traverse of a black-tailed deer or even the distant sighting of a Roosevelt elk.

Without doubt, the best way to experience this natural paradise is to head out on the 5.4-mile Skyline Trail. It makes a big loop around the entire Paradise Park and climbs 1,400 feet to the aptly named, 6,800-foot Panorama Point, where Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Goat Rocks and the Tatoosh Range all stand in view. Because of the impressive snow accumulation over the winter, many parts of the trail may never be completely exposed, so it doesn't hurt to bring hiking poles and gaiters for your boots, even in August and September. 

Whether you hike the Skyline Trail to Paradise Park in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, other trail highlights include Mount Rainier's massive Nisqually Glacier, a worthwhile stop to take in 72-foot Myrtle Falls, and a recommended detour for a glimpse of 155-foot Sluiskin Falls, which lingers just below the intersection of the 1.1-mile Paradise Glacier spur trail.

*By comparison, Mount Elbert in Colorado receives an average of 143 inches of annual snowfall. In the winter of 1971-72, Paradise set the world record for snowfall in a single season with 1,122 inches, which held until 1998-99, when nearby Mount Baker set the new world record with 1,140 inches. Paradise still holds the record, however, for most snow on the ground at 367 inches, measured in 1956.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(23 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(64 within a 30 mile radius)

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