Mount Rainier National Park: Skyline Trail


Mount Rainier National Park is the tenth park of our epic summer road trip. We took a short break from hiking to hang out in the town of Leavenworth, but we are back at it!

Skyline Loop Trail (27)

Mt Rainier Skyline Trail

We spent seven days exploring Mount Rainier National Park and guess what we found out? Mount Rainier’s prominent peak is the most well-known highlight, but it has much more to offer. The towering 14,410 foot glacier-capped volcano is surrounded with old growth forests, wildflowers galore, splendid waterfalls and glimmering lakes.

We have been fortunate to visit some of the most stunning and jaw-dropping landscapes of America and Canada. Read about our other national park experiences of the trip: Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, Waterton Lakes, Banff, Kootenay, Jasper, or North Cascades.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park

With limited time to explore, we run into the same challenge at each new park: trying to find the best hikes. We like to mix it up from easy to strenuous hikes with various scenery. We enjoy walking among the trees, trekking along ridgelines and we are suckers for a good waterfall. This week we will share what we deemed as our favorite hikes within Mount Rainier National Park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Heading to Paradise

The Paradise area is the destination for our first full day in Mt. Rainier. It sits at 5,400 feet on the south slope of the mountain and was named by Virinda Longmire in 1885. She was overwhelmed with its paramount beauty as the wildflowers bloomed. Being one of the most popular spots in the park, accessed through the Nisqually entrance, it is highly recommended to arrive early for your visit.

Mount Rainier National Park

And so our epic 80 day summer road trip continues – 12 U.S. states, 1 Canadian province and 11 national parks. For the upcoming months, I will be sharing with you our highlights, lowlights, adventures, favorite spots, best tips and our thoughts on three months of road tripping and living in a pop up.  I’ll try to answer any and all of your questions too!  You can also follow our journey via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Miles Driven: 254

Total Road Trip Miles Driven: 7,059

Average Gas Price per Gallon: $2.69

State: Washington

All States Visited: Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, British Columbia & Alberta Provinces

If you would like to see our full itinerary, start at the beginning here. And Start at Day One here.

Skyline Trail, via the High Skyline Trail – Strenuous

If you complete the loop, the Skyline Trail is 5.5 miles round-trip and gains 1,700-feet in elevation. We chose the trail because it combines all the best the area has to offer: wildflowers, waterfalls, creeks, glaciers and up-close views of Mt. Rainier.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

In late-July and early August, it is wildflower extravaganza in Mt. Rainier. The beginning of the trail led us through meadows of wildflowers providing a colorful foreground to the striking mountain.

Mount Rainier National Park

Skyline Loop Trail

Next, we passed two waterfalls, Myrtle Falls and Sluiskin Falls, along with a few creeks before ascending through snow.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Skyline Loop Trail (23)

As we continued to climb, the views kept growing more inspiring and impressive. At 6,800 feet high, reaching Panorama Point was the pinnacle of the hike. Up close and personal was Mt. Rainier on one side and expansive views of Paradise Valley, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams and even Mount Hood in the distance on the other side.

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Narada Falls and Reflection Lake

On the drive back down, make sure to stop at Narada Falls and Reflection Lake.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National ParkIt took us about 4 ½ hours to complete the loop including stops for pictures and lunch. All in all, I’d say it was a first great day in the park!

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Next: Sunrise Area in Mt. Rainier NP

We’ve now visited ten national parks on this one road trip! What’s your favorite national park?

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12 Responses

  1. Chris Travels

    Looks like you had perfect weather at Mt. Ranier National Park with that flawless blue sky in your photos. Consider yourselves lucky, because it’s been known to be shrouded in fog quite often. In fact, my family was on the nearby interstate as we headed east out of Seattle 25 years ago. We were contemplating the turnoff for the park, but because the day was overcast and barely caught a glimpse of the mountain, we decided to pass on by. I always kind of regretted our decision because we were “right there”, and after seeing your photos…big mistake.

    • You are so right Chris. We were told about the fog a few times, thankfully it was beautiful clear skies the entire week. It was hot the first day of hiking, but then cooled down. Hopefully you’ll get back at some point!

  2. This is nature at its best! Haven’t been to Mt Ranier but it looks like it should be on the list. Beautiful photos!

    • Thanks Jessica! We just LOVED Mt Rainier NP. I thought it was going to feel small with the focus only on Mt Rainier, but it has so many other things to offer.

  3. It is a stunning mountain. I had no idea it was surrounded by wildflowers. It sounds like there are trails appropriate for little kids (with the difficulty ratings from easy to hard). That’s good to know, as I would like to take my kids on some easy hikes before too long.

  4. Absolutely gorgeous – it almost looks unreal. I have seen Mount Rainier but haven’t “visited” it yet. So thanks for the inspiration.

  5. My goodness, your pictures are stunning! I’ve seen Mt. Rainier only from above (airplanes) and afar. What an amazingly epic experience you Dang Travelers had 😉

  6. The views from Mount Rainer National Park look postcard perfect. What a rewarding hike the skyline trail must have been.

    • It is a beautiful hike and Mount Rainier is definitely the star! Every picture we took that day we kept saying the same thing! It almost looks like a backdrop!

  7. 4 1/2 hours in the park is well spent! The experience seems to be enriching.
    Mindblowing views from the panorama point!

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