Tatoosh Trail

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

Distance8.5mi
Elevation Gain8,481ft
Trailhead Elevation2,884ft
Top5,755ft
Elevation Min/Max2294/5755ft
Elevation Start/End2884/2884ft

Tatoosh Trail

Tatoosh Trail is a hiking trail in Lewis County, Washington. It is within Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Tatoosh Wilderness Area. It is 8.5 miles long and begins at 2,884 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 17.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 8,481 feet. This trail connects with the following: Tatoosh Lookout Trail and Tatoosh Lake Trail.

Tatoosh Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Washington Scrambles - 2nd Edition (The Mountaineers Books)
Peggy Goldman
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"A high traverse along the Tatoosh Range, the prominent string of mountains located near the southern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park, is one of the ultimate scrambling experiences that Rainier has to offer. Individually, the summits are popular because of their quick accessibility and their intimate perspective of the mountain, but the bagging of seven summits along the range in a single day is a scrambling classic. There are many variations of the Tatoosh Traverse with numerous combinations of peaks. This trip includes Pinnacle, Plummer, Denman, Lane, Wahpenayo, Chutla, and Eagle peaks. For the entire chain, it is best to start early with a small party, travel light, wear helmets, and go when the days are long. You will need advanced scrambling skills and good conditioning." Read more
Best Hikes with Dogs: Western Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Dan A. Nelson
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"Thick old-growth forests of Douglas fir and western hemlock line the lower trail, while ridgetop meadows and clear alpine vistas await you on the upper trail. The path climbs steeply and steadily, giving you and your dog a good workout. But the payoff for that work includes glorious views of Mount Rainer and the Goat Rocks Peaks, as well as the many rocky summits of the Tatoosh Range. You can look down on the shimmering waters of Tatoosh Lakes, or if you are up for the extra effort, you can drop down a steep side trail to the lakeshore, finding great camps and fabulous views from around the lakes basin." Read more
Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Martin Volken
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"The Tatoosh Range is a jagged mini-alp that runs east–west 16 miles from Boundary Peak to Eagle Peak, creating a natural southern boundary for Mount Rainier National Park. Traversing this range along the ridge top in summer is a classic route that has been pro?led in climbing magazines. In winter, the same mountains are a fantastic series of bowls and couloirs, and a traverse of the range has numerous possibilities." Read more
100 Classic Hikes Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano
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"The only thing more gorgeous than this wild?ower-carpeted range of craggy knolls and pyramidal peaks are the in-your-face views of snow-white Mount Rainier looming over them on a bluebird day. Hike across steep slopes saturated in swaying grasses and brilliant blossoms to an old lookout site shadowing two tiny tarns in a frozen basin only a mountain goat and lover of all things alpine can appreciate." Read more
Day Hiking: South Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Dan A. Nelson
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"Thick old-growth forest of Douglas fir and hemlock line the lower trail, while ridge-top meadows and clear alpine vistas await you on the upper trail. The path climbs steeply and steadily, giving you a good workout. But the payoff for that work includes glorious views of Mount Rainier and the Goat Rocks Peaks, as well as the many rocky summits of the Tatoosh Range. You can look down on the shimmering waters of the Tatoosh Lakes, or if you are up for the extra effort, you can drop down a steep side trail to the lakeshore, finding great campsites and fabulous views from around the lake basin. The trail is a bit rough in places and can be hard to follow atop the ridge. It is in need of some TLC, so let the rangers know you’d like to see it treated well." Read more

Tatoosh Trail Reviews

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7/22/2010
A great workout trail with views that are equal to anything Mt.Rainier park itself has. You do not need a SUV or 4 wheel drive to get to the trailhead. We had a rental Chevy, 4 cylinder, HHR which had no problem. Yes there are big potholes but plenty of room to navigate around them. The hike offered everything from thick forests to open meadows filled with wild flowers. I saw more magenta paintbrush and beargrass here than I did at Mt.Rainier. There is no reason to take the path to go down to the lake, (if you seen one lake you have seen them all) stay on the main 161 trail. You will eventually come around the backside of the ridge on your way up and be amazed by the view of 3 mountains, Adams, St.Helens and Rainier, all completely in view. Make sure you take a camera that can shoot video, thats the only way to get all 3 mountains in one shot. There is a spot on the trail where a sign is posted "abandoned trail do not use" That may explain the previous user post about not being able to find the trail. The main trail is well marked and easy to follow.
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8/23/2008
OK, I gave the entry 5 stars not as a rating, but as appreciation for both Doug and Riri who wrote reviews and mentioned the badly holed road that one must pass in order to get to the trailhead. We(and suppose other readers) have possibly several vehicle course of action to get to a trail, typically I will take my van filled with 3 other hikers and our gear. This time, we will take several large SUVs in order to traverse that road. Again, thanks to both Riri and David, and Trails.com -- you saved me likely vehicle repair costs!
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8/14/2008
I've hiked this trail 4 times. Spectacular views of the South Cascades and wildflowers galore during early August, berries in fall.

The trail is not as difficult to find as the previous reviewer stated. Take highway 12 to Packwood and turn left (west) onto Skate Creek Rd. Go about 3 miles to FS 5270 on your right, which is signed. This road is deeply rutted for a bit. There is one unsigned fork where you'll go right. TH is about 5.8 miles on FS 5270 and is signed as Trail 161. Park in the wide area across from the trailhead sign.

A moderately steep climb up through a forest of cedar, hemlock, and fir for the first 1800 feet. Then the views break out onto ridge-top meadows packed with every variety of wildflower imaginable in mid-August, lots of huckleberries in late summer, and edible mushrooms (in the forest) in fall. The total elevation gain is roughly 2800 feet (from 2800 ft at the trailhead to about 5700 ft at the rocky knob viewpoint). You'll eventually come to a place where the main trail forks to the left. Straight ahead a sign reads "Trail Abandoned"; don't go there. Next you'll come to an obvious sign that says "Tatoosh Lakes 161B" to vs. "Tatoosh Ridge 161." Take 161B, to the left, and climb up to a plateau which gives you your first glimpse of Mt. Rainier. As you look to your left, you'll see a large knob of rock. There's an obvious footpath that takes you to the rock; the trail goes to the edge of the ridge, then winds back through the trees, finally dumping you on the back side of the knob, which you can ascend easily. From the top of the knob are panoramic views of EVERYTHING, including a fantastic view of plump, white Mt. Rainier, glaciated Adams, St. Helen's, the tip of Hood, and the Goat Rocks' many serrated peaks.

There is a small stream at 5000 ft where you can pump water.

Map: Green Trails 302, Packwood
RT to the knob: 5+ miles
Hiking Time: 2:00 in, 1:30 out
Solitude: very few hikers Dogs: okay
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9/22/2007
The approach road to the trailhead is not marked and pretty obscure. It is barely passable. High clearance vehicles are needed. Just a little more washout and it will be history and a few extra miles of walking will be necessary.

even when you get to the parking area, the trail head is by no means obvious.. it is down a little offshoot road about 50 yards.

We got to the ridge where there should have been a junction - to the lake below or toward the ridge. We headed (we thought) to the ridge, and the trail simply ended after a few hundred yards. We wantered around/backtracked, but never figured out where we might have gone wrong. Even in the lower areas, the trail is quite overgrown (wear gaters or rain pants).

They need to maintain the road and trail or else pronounce death on it so folks don't waste their time.
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Trail Information

Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Nearby City
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Skiing
Additional Use
Mount Rainier National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Rainier East, Mount Rainier West, Wahpenayo Peak; Green Trails Mount Rainier East 270, Mount Rainier West 269, Randle 301
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018