Hike to Rainier NP's Fremont Fire Lookout

Sunrise Visitors Center, Ashford, Washington, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    5.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    800 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby

Big, open views of Mount Rainier. Far less crowded than Paradise. Easy hike with a spectacular payoff.

Escape the crowds at Paradise and come enjoy the best views in the park!

Start from the visitor's center parking lot and head up the Sourdough Ridge Trail and hike the 1.3 miles to Frozen Lake. Along the way (depending on the season) you'll hike up snow, through glorious fields of wild flowers, or tall grass rustling in the wind. You'll also get views of Adams, Stuart, Glacier, Baker, dozens of other cascade peaks... Oh, and Rainier is staring you down the entire time.

At Frozen Lake, the trail splits in a number of directions, but you're taking a sharp right around the lake and up a simply marvelous stretch of trail snaking up the slopes of Mount Fremont.

Be careful not to trip in this area, as the views of Rainier can easily overwhelm you. It's unlike any stretch of trail I've seen in Washington: rocky, all above the treeline, and only one of the most magnificent valleys you've ever seen separates you from the massive glaciers grinding down this side of the mountain.

The hike from Frozen Lake to the Fremont Lookout is only a little over a mile and it passes so quickly, you'll almost wish it lasted longer.

Climb up to the 'porch' of the lookout, take your pack off, and grab a snack while admiring a new side of Mount Rainier. This is an especially good spot for those interested in climbing routes on the mountain, because the entire Emmons and the majority of the Disappointment Cleaver routes are visible from here (not to mention Liberty Ridge, Curtis Ridge, and other lesser-climbed routes).

Don't forget to turn around and take in Grand Park, a flat, mostly-treeless mountaintop the size of several football fields.

This adventure can easily be done in an afternoon, but those willing to hike out by headlamp might want to stay for a sunset that will make you question why they named the place 'Sunrise.'

The lookout isn't open to the public, but if a friendly ranger is around they might let you look around inside. Also, note that there is a wilderness toilet if you scramble down from the lookout to the north.

The road to Sunrise is usually only open from June-November, so check before you head out that way.

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Snacks
  • Camera
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Overall rating: 

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This easy day hike pays off with big rewards. The trail can get busy, but it's definitely not crowded. And although Sunrise isn't quite as popular as Paradise, the lot will still fill up in the summer months, so head out early. For a post hike bite to eat, stop by the "snack bar" for a sandwich.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Awesome for a sunrise hike, but be sure to bundle up!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Mitch Pittman Explorer

I live in Seattle, but my life happens in the mountains. My hobbies include long walks in the woods, whiskey in hot springs, and carrying skis up long slogs for a few turns in late summer.

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