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Chasing Epic Views in Mount Rainier National Park

Hiking to Pinnacle Peak in the Tatoosh Range

By: Sean Van Dommelen + Save to a List

Located inside Mount Rainier National Park, the Pinnacle Peak trail offers epic views of Mount Rainier while you ascend to the saddle between Pinnacle Peak and Plummer Peak. When you reach the saddle the trail continues unmaintained in which you can go right to Plummer, or left to Pinnacle and beyond. . 

Looking south at Mt. Adams and Mount St. Helens

This time, however, I was interested in taking a different route because there was still a lot of snow pack left from the winter, so we trekked straight up the gullies and slopes toward the Pinnacle Glacier. 

Up the gully

Ice axes and crampons were essential in getting us up this area safely. It gradually flattened out upon reaching the top. 

Up and up the gully some more

Mount Rainier wasn't shy in her display as we rested and re-hydrated. Observing the view, the thing about going off-trail is this rogue sense I get. Almost as if I am deliberately breaking a rule and enjoying every minute of it. Some would argue that going off-trail in itself is breaking a rule of some sort, but because of the snow pack, no damage was done to the terrain or the surrounding ecosystems. 

After ascending for an hour or so, the land flattened out for a spectacular view of the Pinnacle Glacier which sits below and between Pinnacle and The Castle. 

Pinnacle Glacier, The Castle (left), Pinnacle Peak (right)

A quick nap before traversing the glacier itself and cresting the south side of the saddle. 

Nap time

Traversing the Pinnacle Glacier

After making it up and over the glacier, it's hard to put into words the sense of accomplishment, even on a small adventure like this. This beautiful mountain range holds significance to me that goes beyond any written word. Moreover, even though the pictures cannot fully capture the raw beauty of crumbling rock and rolling hills, it is sometimes best left to the imagination to conjure up a fantasy or two when one is present here. 

Pinnacle Peak from the saddle

Up and over to loop back onto to the original Pinnacle Peak trail. 

Looking south from the saddle. Mount Adams (left), Mount St. Helens (right)

In the end, confidence was built and beauty was beheld. If you ever get a chance to visit Mount Rainier National Park, make sure you look up the Pinnacle Peak trail. You won't be disappointed. 

Be safe out there! 

Photo credits: Annette Green-Fisler & Van Dommelen Images

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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