Pathfinder | 112 pts
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