|Mountain and panoramic views; wildflowers
|2.50 miles / 4.00 km
|Mt. Rainier National Park - Paradise Area, Washington South Cascades
Ancestral lands of the Nisqually, Mishalpam (Upper Nisqually), and Taidnapam (Upper Cowlitz)
|From the southwest (Nisqually) entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park:
|National park pass or equivalent for national parks and federal recreational lands
|Additional Trail Info:
|U.S. National Park Service
Washington Trails Association
|This page profiles the trail on Mt. Rainier National Park's Pinnacle Peak, rather than the trails on the King County, Washington mountain known by various names including "Pinnacle Peak".
Don’t be fooled by its short distance — the Pinnacle Peak Trail more than makes up for its brevity with stunning views and decent elevation gain over its consistent climb. Pinnacle Peak is one of several summits along the Tatoosh Range, which borders Mt. Rainier National Park’s Paradise area. Set against the peak’s beetling ramparts, the view keeps getting bigger and bigger as the trail clears the treeline, offering one of the most expansive prospects of Mt. Rainier in the park. Sometimes called the Pinnacle Saddle Trail, the track does not reach the summit, but rather crosses Pinnacle Peak’s northwestern flank and ends at the gap between Pinnacle and Plummer peaks, where it opens to a completely different vista in the opposite direction. On a clear day, the southern horizon encompasses three other Cascade mountain volcanoes: Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens. In addition to the panoramic views, a host of summer wildflowers adds up-close interest to the wayside.
The trail becomes stony as it attains alpine heights. Although it is well maintained, hikers should be prepared with trekking gear of their choice for rocky terrain. Not surprisingly, it is popular with park visitors, although weekday hikes are comfortable. If greater distance is desired, consider combining the climb with part or all of the Lakes or High Lakes trails or a jaunt to Louise Lake just off the Lakes/Wonderland Trail near the trailhead parking area. From the saddle, boot paths branch to the summits of Pinnacle and Plummer peaks. Should you choose to proceed beyond the maintained trail, exercise caution and be confident in your route-finding and rock-scrambling skills. However you choose to enjoy this park gem, you’ll have opportunity for spectacular views. (Weather permitting, of course!)
© 2023-2024 Anthony Colburn. Images may not be used or reproduced in any form without express written consent.