Hike to the Top of Crystal Peak

Washington Crystal Lakes Trailhead, Mt. Rainier National Park

Added by Gemina Garland-Lewis

Take in Incredible views of six volcanoes across two states and enjoy beautiful meadows with wildflowers and berries.

This is an incredible trail for anyone who wants unbeatable views of Rainier from inside the National Park boundaries, but with no pass or permit required and fewer crowds. The trail is a straight shot up to the top of Crystal Peak, winding through the forest first and then wide open meadows later.

Start at the Crystal Lakes Trailhead, just off of Highway 410. Wind up through the forest, steadily gaining elevation, until you reach the trail junction at 1.5 miles for the Crytsal Peak Trail. Counterintuitively, the trail to the lakes goes up on your left and the trail to the peak drops down to the right. Take the right fork and continue on through the forest, enjoying the lone level portion of the trail. The trail will soon cross a large talus slope and then dip into the forest again before shooting you out in wide open meadows. During the summer there will be an incredible array of wildflowers and berries, including the magenta Indian paintbrush, endemic to Mt. Rainier National Park.

You'll wind back and forth up the peak until you see remnants of the old lookout - your cue that you're just a few more steps from the summit. You'll top out four miles from the trailhead at 6595ft with awesome views to the north of Sourdough Gap and Crystal Mountain and down to Crystal Lakes below. From the summit and the climb up be sure to look around for a number of the area's iconic volcanoes, including Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Adams, Glacier Peak, Mt. Baker, Mt. Hood in Oregon, and of course Mt. Rainier.

Head down the way you came - it's a long trek down for the knees! If you have time to keep exploring (and energy to trek upwards again) take the trail to Crystal Lakes when you hit the junction again on the way down.

On your way out stop in Greenwater for a huckleberry shake at Wapiti Woolie's!

Pack List

  • Lots of water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles
  • Layers for the summit
  • Rain gear
  • 10 essentials
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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3100 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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How to Get There

2 months ago

Great hike to beat the crowds

Avoid the crowds at Sunrise by heading up Crystal Peak on a nice summer day. The trail is moderate in length and elevation gain, and spends a lot of time above the trees where views are spectacular. Fantastic!

2 months ago

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