Julie United States 8 Comments

This fun hike takes you through dense forests and past several alpine lakes before delivering you to the Tolmie Peak Lookout, for a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. This hike is located in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park, and due to its more remote location, gets less visitors than many other places in the park.

You’ll love this hike if you want amazing views of Mt. Rainier and like the idea of going off-the-beaten-path to escape the crowds.

Tolmie Peak Hiking Stats

Distance: 5.6 miles (out-and-back)
Total Elevation Gain: 1,633 feet (roughly 75% of this is on the way to Tolmie Peak lookout)
Starting Elevation: 5,100 feet
Highest Elevation (Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout): 5,900 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Length of Time: 2.5 to 4 hours

The hiking stats listed are for the round-trip hike to the Tolmie Peak lookout. You can extend this hike, continuing on to Tolmie Peak. This extra little bit adds about 0.8 miles out-and-back with minimal elevation gain.

When to Go: This hike can be done from June through October, when the access road to the trailhead is open.

Tolmie Peak Elevation Profile

Tolmie Peak Elevation profile


Tolmie Peak Lookout Map

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.


Tolmie Peak Hike

Step-By-Step Trail Guide

Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead is located on Mowich Lake Road (aka Mountain Meadows Road). This is a 17-mile gravel road that is rough in some spots. However, you do not need a 4×4 for this road. It is suitable for standard cars.

This road opens in June or July, depending on snowfall, and then closes in October or November. Check the road status on the National Park Service website before you go.

There is no park entrance booth for this hike. A few miles before you reach the Tolmie Peak Trailhead, there is a self-pay station, if you do not already have a Mt. Rainier National Park entrance pass or an America the Beautiful Pass.

The trailhead is marked on Google Maps (Tolmie Peak Trailhead). At the trailhead, the road is wide enough for cars to park single file along the side of Mowich Lake Road.

Tolmie Peak Trailhead

Hiking to Tolmie Peak Lookout

The trail starts beside Mowich Lake. At first, it’s an easy, flat stroll next to the lake. Enjoy this flat section. It lasts approximately one mile and once you get past this section of trail, you will either be hiking up or down hills, inclines that are rather steep in spots.

At the one-mile point, the trail switchbacks down through the forest. It doesn’t last long, and before you know it, you’ll start the steady climb up to Tolmie Peak.

Tolmie Peak Forest Trail

At the bottom of the short descent, you will now regain the elevation you just lost, as you hike up the switchbacks through the forest. This hike up the switchbacks through the forest lasts roughly one mile.

The trail briefly levels out at Eunice Lake. Lakeside, if you look up at the rocky peak in front of you, you can see the fire lookout. Eunice Lake is a nice place to stop and catch your breath before the final climb to Tolmie Peak.

Eunice Lake

Eunice Lake with the fire lookout at the top of the rocky cliff

The final climb is the hardest of the hike but it’s worth it. Through the clearings in the trees, make sure you look out to Mt. Rainier. It is an awesome view.

Eunice Lake Washington

View from Tolmie Peak Trail

Mt Rainier Washington

Tim Kara Tolmie Peak

Tolmie Peak Hike

After almost 3 miles of hiking and a long, steady uphill climb, you arrive at Tolmie Peak fire lookout tower and its spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. You can climb the lookout, peer inside of the building (it is now a historical landmark), and enjoy those amazing views you worked so hard for.

If you want to keep going, you can follow the trail to the northeast, for about a half mile, to reach Tolmie Peak.

Kara Rivenbark

Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout

Tolmie Peak Lookout View

Mt Rainier National Park

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Get updates on the road status and trail closures on the official National Park Service website before you go.

Leave no trace. When you are in the park, practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace. This includes packing out what you bring into the park, be considerate of other hikers, stay on the trail, and do not remove anything from the park.

The meadows around Eunice Lake are fragile and easily damaged. Stay on the trails to avoid further damage to the fragile plant life.

Do not expect your cell phone to work. We had zero cellular service on this hike, with the exception of a weak signal on Tolmie Peak. There is also no cellular service once you get past Carbondale, which means you won’t get reception for most of the drive to the Tolmie Peak trailhead. Don’t depend on your phone to call for help, talk to friends, or to send photos to friends and family.

What to Bring on the Hike

Hiking shoes. We recommend hiking shoes. When we did this hike (July 2020), we hiked through patches of snow and large sections of muddy trail. You can get by with a sturdy pair of walking shoes, but I would leave the Converse sneakers and flip flops at home.

Water and snacks. At least 1.5 liters of water in the summer.

Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. Once you reach Eunice Lake there is very little shade on the trail.

Camera. Even a smartphone will do.

Hiking Gear Guide

If you have any questions about hiking to Tolmie Peak, let us know in the comment section below. Happy hiking!!

More Information about Washington

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK: Check out our Mount Rainier National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

HIKES IN MOUNT RAINIER: Other popular hikes in Mount Rainier include the Skyline Trail, the Mount Fremont Hike, and the hike from Summerland to Panhandle Gap. You can see the full list in our article Best Hikes in Mount Rainier.

MOUNT RAINIER ITINERARY: In our Mount Rainier Itinerary, learn how to plan your time here, whether you have just a few days or longer.

WASHINGTON ITINERARY: Take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Washington with our Washington Road Trip Itinerary.

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.


If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, visit our United States Travel Guide and our Washington Travel Guide for more inspiration and travel planning tips.


Mt. Rainier Tolmie Peak Hike


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Comments 8

  1. Avatar for Alyse Tumelson
    Alyse Tumelson

    Hello, Julie! If you had to choose between this hike and the Fremont one, which one would you pick? Thinking about heading that way in the next few weeks (we live about 2 hours away). I will be sure to check the park website about road closures. Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      That’s a tough one to answer. We did Fremont first and were absolutely amazed by the views (this was the first thing we did in Mount Rainier NP). But there is something about that view from Tolmie Peak fire lookout. The Tolmie Peak hike had a lot fewer people on the trail, so if you want to get away from the crowds, Tolmie would get my vote. If you are going soon, you could do Fremont first. Tolmie is very pretty in August when the wildflowers along the trail are blooming. So, if you can, do both at some point, because both are wonderful hikes. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Alexis

    Can we stay at the lookout overnight? Looking for a bonding trip with my daughter, and thought this would be a wonderful experience for her.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      That would be cool but I don’t think it is possible. The lookout is not open (you can visit the outside deck but the building is locked, or at least it was on our visit). As far as camping there, in most national parks, camping is only allowed in designated campsites but you could confirm this on the National Park Service website. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Cara

    Thank you for this great trail write up. I basically planned my whole trip to Seattle around this hike. I’m from Georgia and hike a lot but didn’t want to overdo it. This was the perfect hike and I can’t believe it’s only ~2 hours from Seattle!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      This was one of our favorite hikes in Washington state so you picked a good one. Have a great hike! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Gary Glenn Villines
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

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