I am doing the WTA Hike-a-Thon this August and would love your support. Please consider sponsoring me or joining my team “Two More Switchbacks.” We currently have four members and between us we have already raised over $400.00! I would love to blow our $500 goal out of the park. The money goes to the Washington Trails Association which does a great job maintaining our trails in addition to being a great resource. Be on the lookout for my Hike-a-Thon posts.
On July 22nd, I went to Mount Rainier with meetup. The Tolmie Peak trailhead is on the NW side, in the Carbon River area of the park. Note – the road to Mowich lake is a dirt road and is 17 miles long. It was in decent condition when we went, but per WTA it can be very rough. The main issue we ran into was dust flying up so it was hard to see. Also, this trailhead was VERY popular. Arrive early, cars were parked way down the road when we returned from our hike. For more directions and trail details see the WTA Site: wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/tolmie-peak.
Here are the stats for this hike:
7.5 miles round trip, 1100 feet elevation gain, High point 5900 feet
Pass Required: National Park Pass
*If you are going to do a lot of hiking in Washington including in the National Parks, you might want to look into the “America the Beautiful Pass” This pass covers National Parks, National Monuments as well As Northwest Forest. It costs $80 but saves you from the trouble of having two passes.
The trail starts at the parking area for Mowich Campground, and follows the shore on the west side of Mowich Lake. When our group set out in the morning Mount Rainier was reflecting in the lake, make sure you take time to look up and enjoy the scenery. (Sorry no photo of the reflection). As you move away from the lake the elevation increases a bit and you will come to a junction with Insput Pass, two miles from the trailhead. There are some nice-looking rock faces along the way along with wildflowers. Someone had also built an interesting cairn.
Keep left at the pass and continue another .8 miles to Eunice Lake. This part of the trail has some ups and downs…so don’t forget there will be a little uphill on the way back. Right before we got to the lake there was a great meadow with Beargrass and other wildflowers. It was very buggy at the lake, so make sure you bring along some bug spray. If you look closely at the second picture below you can see the lookout tower at the top of the ridge. This is the destination. There were also some people swimming in Eunice lake, so if you would like to take a dip bring along a swimsuit…or wait to go swimming in Mowich Lake when you get back.
To get sweeping views of Mount Rainier, continue past the lake for the final uphill grind to the lookout tower. It is a steep mile up Tolmie Peak but the views are worth it. On the north side of the Peak you get views of the Carbon River Valley. At the top there is a sweeping view of Mount Rainier and Eunice Lake. There were a ton of people on the top when we were there. There was a wedding party that had hiked up (they got married at the lookout…how cool is that) plus our big group. I am guessing it would be better to hike this trail on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Per WTA, this area is closed to camping, so if you want to visit very early in the morning or late in the evening plan to camp at Mowich Campground. If going for the day, consider packing a cooler and having a picnic by the lake at the end…as well as a refreshing swim. The trails are pretty dusty this year due to the lack of rain so it feels good to rinse off. Photo credit below belongs to Jen (one of our group.