Skyline Trail

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Distance4.9mi
Elevation Gain1,844ft
Trailhead Elevation5,435ft
Top6,739ft
Elevation Min/Max5435/6739ft
Elevation Start/End5435/5435ft

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail is a hiking trail in Pierce County, Washington. It is within Mount Rainier National Park. It is 4.9 miles long and begins at 5,435 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,844 feet. The Paradise Ranger Station and Paradise Climbing Information Center information offices, the Paradise Inn restaurant, and the Paradise Inn hotel are near the trailhead. There are also parking, a telephone, and drinking water. The trail ends near the Panorama Point viewpoint. This trail connects with the following: Avalanche Lily Trail, Paradise Glacier Trail, Glacier Vista Trail, Upper Skyline Trail, Peeble Creek Trail, Alta Vista Trail, Mazama Ridge Trail, Golden Gate Trail, 4th Crossing Trail, Dead Horse Creek Trail and Waterfall Trail.

Skyline Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Quite possibly the most popular hike in Mount Rainier National Park, the Skyline Trail is very well maintained and partly paved. The trail provides a close-up view of the Nisqually Glacier and an unmatched panoramic view at its nexus.

The views are spectacular, the services plentiful, and the trails many. Of all the trails in Paradise, Skyline is the most well known and frequently hiked. As you might guess by the name, the Skyline Trail goes above timberline into alpine terrain, with an awe-inspiring look at the Nisqually Glacier."

"Quite possibly the most popular hike in Mount Rainier National Park, the Skyline Trail is very well maintained and partly paved, and provides a close-up view of the Nisqually Glacier and an unmatched panoramic view at its nexus.

For good reason, more people visit Paradise than any other location on Mount Rainier. The views are spectacular, the services plentiful, and the trails many. Of all the trails in Paradise, Skyline is the most well known and frequently hiked. As you might guess by the name, the Skyline Trail goes above timberline into alpine terrain, with an awe-inspiring look at the Nisqually Glacier."

"Mount Rainier’s Paradise Park is world famous for its floral shows and mountain views. “‘Where the flowers and glaciers meet’ is aptly applied to this Classic of blossoms, stupendous views of ice-falls, a delightful waterfall, and friendly marmots sunning themselves along the trail or grazing themselves fat before hibernating,” wrote Manning.

The Skyline Trail captures all of that and more! A great way to experience Paradise, the Skyline Trail makes a big loop, passing by most of the area’s best features and viewpoints."

"This route loops around the broad Edith Creek basin, leading through alpine flower fields, past thundering waterfalls, and over high, craggy peaks.

In this one loop, you’ll experience the best the Paradise region has to offer in terms of scenic beauty, rugged hiking, and varied terrain and ecosystems. You’ll also find a memorial marking an important event in park history!"

Skyline Trail Reviews

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9/9/2010
A great day on Rainier is had here. A bit crowded when we went but not overly so. Everyone having a great day in the sun.
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7/19/2010
Nice hike. Still has snow up at the lake on this hike. We went down to Bend Lake and discovered a great reflection photo opportunity of Mt.Rainier. This is better than Reflection Lake because the lake is small and there are not any ripples in the water, completely smooth. Where the maintained trail ends, you can continue on around the end of the lake and get great views of melting snow creeks.
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8/27/2009
The trials in Paradise can be quite crowded. Early morning is best as by the afternoon the trails are packed especially those closest to the parking/visitor center. We arrived mid-morning when there was still ample parking and a reasonable amount of hikers on the trails. Note that all of the trails within 1+ miles of the Paradise Visitor center seem to be paved. We ascended via the Dead Horse Creek trail before joining the Skyline trail. Although it was not as steep as the Skyline trial it is still all up hill until you reach Pebble Creek so expect to put in some effort. We lucked into a cloudless blue sky and wildflowers in full bloom so the views were spectacular and the scents heavenly. We chose to take the Glacier Vista option and had great views of both glaciers and glacier fed waterfalls. Taking the High Skyline options afforded views of the Muir snowfield up to base camp as well as gorgeous views of Mt Rainier and the surrounding peaks and valleys. At least one section of Low Skyline was snowed over, considered dangerous and will probably remain so until the new snow comes. The descent towards Paradise Glacier and beyond the Trump/Stevens bench was one of my favorite parts, possibly because it was downhill but also because it was the least crowded with great wildflowers, meadows and views of the Tatoosh range. As we descended the final section towards Myrtle falls the traffic increased dramatically and by the time we hit the foot bridge over the falls it was a crush. Had it not been for the paved trails and the hoards of people I probably would have rated this loop as 5 stars, but keep in mind that I had idealic weather, copious flowers, a good lunch and no snow on the trail to impede my progress.
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7/30/2009
Moderate day hike. There were not very many people on the trail mid week. The lake was clear blue and green. After the heat wave we had this week I took a dip in the FREEZING COLD alpine lake, took my breath away but it was worth it. Took less than 40 minutes each way. The bugs were a bit bad when we went so bring bug spray.
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7/26/2009
The wildflowers were everywhere along this trail that was covered in snow near the Lakes Trail junction. Along the way, I counted 4 Marmots doing their thing, seemingly unafraid of humans hiking nearby. I also caught a view of Mt. St. Helens off to the south. The trail was a challenge in spots due to snow cover, but it was definitely enjoyable. It also offered some of the best views of Mt. Rainier in the whole park -- up close and personal!
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7/18/2009
Fantastic views, awesome scenery. Part of the hike is on snow, take sunscreen and trekking poles. Only complaint is that there are a LOT of visitors, parking lot fills up early. Once you pass the 1 mile mark, however, crowd thins significantly and the trail becomes much less crowded. Trails and intersections are well marked, but are somewhat confusing. At times, the trail disappears under the snow. Take a good map - the map included here at trails.com is very good (better than the topo map I took). Overall, super hike.
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6/15/2008
I got my info about his hike from the Mountaineers "Desert Hikes" book, so the trail length is different, but I'm assuming its the same trail. Either way, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but masochists. Granted, it was not the smartest timing, heading there in the middle of June, but I had thought there would be some wildflowers left. There really were not. One or two bedraggled looking mariposa lilies, and all the balsamroots dried up and dead. It was abysmally hot, with only little puffs of air every once in a while. The hike advertises lots of birds and animals as well as the flowers, but the only animals we saw were a dad out there with his two tiny kids, shooting off his rifle. Not what I was looking for. The only other animal we saw was on the way out. It was a horse and had apparently been dead for a long time. It didn't look like it simply died of old age, either. Creepy. All in all, this hike is one to avoid.
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5/25/2008
The road to the north trailhead is slow going. Allow 45 minutes from Ellensburg for the 13 miles (7 unpaved). Recent rains made wildflowers spectacular. Views views views. We got caught in some hail, so had to turn back early, but by the time we got back to the car, we were dry and warm again. The canyon looked tempting as well.
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6/5/2007
Jacob Durr Road needs some *serious* repair--it is basically inaccessible to those without a 4WD unless you are very stupid (like me, who made it all the way past the Umtanum creek trailhead in a Chevy Malibu 4-door sedan with ~8 inch clearance, including fording the creek after dropping large stones to gauge the depth of the water, and then hoping it wasn't going to rain anytime soon). I would not recommend the lengthy drive from the highway to this particular trailhead, even though it does put you in the thick of things with an expansive view. For someone more in love with the greenery of Western Washington, I have to say that I wasn't sustainably impressed with the brown, sage-brush landscape around Yakima. The hiking was fairly easy, but the wind was non-stop. Without the cloud-cover, I can only imagine how unbearably hot the high-hills portion of the trail would get. The campsites around Umtanum Creek were nicely green with a few big trees, but people had obviously allowed their horses to defecate indiscriminately all over the campsite instead of keeping them at the further tie-ups and there was nowhere to put a tent down without the threat of poo beneath your face. The final straw was the copious sound of gunfire from the road above the creek where locals were shooting their rifles across the valley. This seemed to be the primary use for the back-country along "historic" Jacob Durr Road as there were many improvised pull-outs littered with shell-casings and beer bottles/cans on the way in. Hmmm... come to think of it, this was a pretty lousy "hiking/camping" experience, but memorable, I suppose. I was very desperate to escape the protracted rain of Western Washington and begin the hiking season but wouldn't recommend this trail, particularly this late in the season with no wildflowers. For a good time, BYOB & Kevlar helmet. Go see a movie.
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5/31/2007
We had about a foot of snow on the ground, making for a fairly difficult day. The trail was supposed to be the only one marked, but we, and 3 other couples got lost. Not fun, but majestic up to that point.
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Trail Information

Mount Rainier National Park
Nearby City
Mount Rainier National Park
Parks
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate
Skill Level
Views, Waterfalls
Features
Mount Rainier NP
Local Contacts
Green Trails, Mount Rainier Wonderland Trail No. 269S
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Sep 2018