You are here

Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
3.20 mi (5.15 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

While a short hike, the trail to the High Rock Lookout Tower is all about the views. You'll gain approximately 1,300 feet in just over a mile once you leave the trailhead, topping out on a dramatic ridge with vertiginous and expansive views in all directions. Despite the exposure at the end of the hike, the trail mostly sticks to the dense forest of hemlock and noble fir, so it is a pleasant climb along the way. In the summer, a diverse understory of wildflowers and huckleberries line the trail.

Begin on High Rock Lookout Trail 266, which leaves the parking area right off of NF-8440. You'll be able to see the tower from early on in the hike, which is good for motivation. Note that a spur trail leads off to the right, but this soon rejoins the main trail and is best skipped. The trail remains in good condition, and you'll find a few benches to help with recuperation after the switchbacks. You'll leave the forest after a little more than a mile and continue along the ridge. The magnitude of the this ridge's prominence begins to sink in at this point, and the impression only increases as you approach the tower.

Built in 1929, the tower is no longer in use, but it is often left open in the summer season. Very little sits between the tower and the sheer drop to Cora Lake below, so be very cautious as you explore this ridge. Views from the tower are magnificent: in addition to incredible views of Mount Rainier, you'll see Goat Rocks, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and even Mount Hood.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

360-degree views include Mount Rainier and Cascades. Iconic lookout tower.

Cons

Long gravel access road. Vertigo may be an issue at the top.

Trailhead Elevation

4,320.00 ft (1,316.74 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,365.00 ft (416.05 m)

Features

Historically significant
Big vistas

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

06/26/2016
Made it to the top with my husband carrying our 1 year old. I felt OK with her being contained in the pack but would warn parents with little ones that there are some dicey ledges and it's a steep scramble to the top.
10/16/2015
Nice hike, decent trails and roads. Managed to get to the trailhead in our prius.
Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.