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Skyline Trail – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

View of the peak of Mount Rainier.

View of the peak of Mount Rainier.

Skyline Trail is probably the most popular trail in Mount Rainier National Park – and it’s not an easy one! The trail begins at the popular Paradise Jackson Visitors Center at around 5,400 feet of elevation on the south slope of Mount Rainier. And the Skyline Trail just goes up from there… it’s called the Skyline Trail – what did you expect?

Head toward the peak by following signs for the Skyline Trail – as you get higher, you’ll get a great view of the Nisqually Glacier to the west. The river valley it spawns can be seen as it spirals down toward the park entrance. The dense pine forest at Paradise will give way to a tundra-like terrain with fewer trees as you gain elevation. Eventually, there will be signs to point you to Pebble Creek (at 7200′ and about 2.2 miles from Paradise) or Panorama Point (at 6800′). I made it as high as Pebble Creek and if you want to head higher toward Camp Muir (at over 10,000′ of elevation), you should make sure you know the unmarked way.

You can pick several trails to return: the way you came (which I did on the second day), from Panorama Point via the Golden Gate Trail (the one I took on my first day), or swing further east on the Skyline.

  • View of the peak of Mount Rainier.
  • Valley below Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Waterfall from the Nisqually Glacier as seen from the Skyline Trail.
  • Marmot on the Skyline Trail.
  • Skyline Trail with the Tatoosh Range in the distance.
  • Wildflowers with Mount Rainier in the background.
  • Pebble Creek at 7200' elevation.
  • Pebble Creek at 7200' elevation with Mount Rainier's peak in the background.
  • Me at Pebble Creek at 7200' elevation.
  • Pebble Creek at 7200' elevation.

Directions: Take State Highway 706 through Ashford to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park (entrance fees apply). Continue to Longmire and then on to Paradise – seasonal restrictions apply during the winter (check here for road status).

Elevation profile:

First half is Skyline Trail and back via Golden Gate Trail. Second half is Skyline Trail to Upper Skyline Trail, back via Skyline and Panorama Point.

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