Hike to Gobbler's Knob

Washington Lake George Trail

Added by Stephen Matera

  • A hike and mountain bike two-for
  • Spectacular, unobstructed closeup views of the West side of Mt. Rainier from Summit to Valley
  • 4 mile bike ride (8 miles r/t), 1,400' elevation gain up an abandoned road
  • 5 mile r/t hike with 1,500' of elevation gain
  • No crowds!
  • Fire Lookout

Entering the Park from the Southwest Entrance, bear left when you approach the forking Westside Rd. This road has been closed a few miles in due to massive rockfall. When you reach the road closure, just park along the side of the road. In Spring and Summer, you should be able to see plenty of other cars about, as the road is now used as a popular trail system for the Western half of the park. The trail is straightforward for the vast majority of your hike.

Follow the road for about 4.5 miles up the abandoned pass until you see a large, obvious car pull off on the left with a bike rack. You'll know you're in the right place if you see the small sign that reads, "Lake George Trail." From here, Lake George is only about a mile and a half. It's a fantastic little primitive site with 5-8 spots and a small Ranger Outpost. On still mornings, the lake is like glass, and offers some incredible reflections. This area comes highly recommended for anybody looking for a peaceful overnight or weekend trip.

Follow the signs along the right side of Lake George that point you towards "Gobblers Knob," which is only about a mile from the lake. Don't let the short distance fool you into thinking it's a walk in the park. From the lake, you can see Gobblers Knob towering thousands of feet above you, and it is just as steep a hike as it looks.

As you approach the summit, you'll catch glimpses of why the abandoned fire lookout is one of my absolute favorite hikes in the country. On the summit, take a breather and let the full majestic beauty of Mt. Rainier wash over you.

Sunset here is magnificent, as is the night-sky. We recommend to pack headlamps and stick around for the night time. We packed in our hammocks and sleeping bags and set up underneath the lookout balcony. While we didn't stay the entire night, many have, and I'm sure sunrise is just as beautiful.

Be careful hiking down at night! The trail is steep and it can be easy to lose your footing.

Pack List

Gobbler's Knob on the West side of Mt. Rainier National Park used to be a much more accessible day hike. That is until the Westside Road was abandoned after a washout. Now it's not nearly as popular because it requires either an 8 mile hike each way on the road just to reach the trailhead, or a mutlisport day of biking and hiking. I recommend the biking and hiking.

Drive to the Nisqually entrance of Mt. Rainier. Continue for 1 mile towards Paradise. Take a left turn up the west side road and drive to the end near a washout, approximate elevation 2,500'.

Cross the washout on foot, hop on your bike and ride uphill for 4 miles to Round Pass, elevation 3,900'. Park your bike at the bike rack...yes, there is a bike rack. Locking it up is optional, and seems strange to do, but you wouldn't want to have t o walk the 4 miles back to the car, would you?

Start hoofing your way up the trail towards Gobbler's Knob. At about a mile, you'll reach Lake George. A large lake nestled in the trees. Good overnight camping options here. Continue around the lake and up towards Gobbler's Knob for 1 1/2 miles, elevation ~5,500'. There is some nice rock outcropping, or bonus, a Fire Lookout with 360 degree views of Mt. Rainier (of course!), Mt. St. Helen's, Mt. Adams, and the Olympic Mountains.

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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1500 Feet




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How to Get There

10 months ago

Try Mount Beljica . . .

A better view in our opinion, with a cute lake along the way (Christine Lake), tons of avalanche lilies, and a jaw dropping view of Mt. Rainier at the edge of a vertigo inducing bluff. It's right outside the park entrance, so you'll save $$ too! On a clear day, you'll see St. Helens, the High Rock lookout, and with binoculars, you can even see Commencement Bay in Tacoma! Gobbler's Knob is still a great hike, but we like Beljica more.

10 months ago

Added by Stephen Matera

Stephen is a Seattle-based outdoor adventure, lifestyle, and landscape photographer. He has worked with companies in the outdoor industry for over 15 years as well as some of the biggest national magazines in the adventure world. He travels and shoots for his clients in the western U.S., Alaska, and internationally, but is completely happy to shoot in his backyard mountains in the Pacific Northwest.

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