Are you thinking of squeezing in one last hike before winter hits Washington State? Is wanderlust for the great outdoors calling your name? If so, there’s an easy-to-tackle loop in the Cascades that provides stunning views of Mt. Rainier and some of its surrounding lakes. The Naches Peak Loop is a famously scenic trail that makes for an excellent day trip from the Tri-Cities, or a perfect stop enroute to the Seattle area. Whether you plan to hit the trail on the way to other destinations, or make the trail its own destination, you won’t be disappointed after hiking around the serene woods and lakes of Washington’s Cascades.
The loop itself is nestled in the thick woods of Mt. Rainier National Forest, lending the comfort of shade to hikers during the summer months. The trail breaks up at points to reveal sweeping views of Mt. Rainier and even Mt. Adams on clear days. The best time to visit the trail is between July and October, as the weather is more comfortable for hikers and the risk of forest fires is low. With only ~600 feet of elevation gain over the three-mile loop, the hike generally takes around an hour and a half to tackle and is considered easy by the community hiking app AllTrails.
To get to the Naches Peak Loop, start towards Mt. Rainier National Park by taking Interstate 82 west out of the Tri-Cities. Follow the interstate to Yakima, then take Highway 12 west toward Naches. Just after passing through the town, take the exit for State Route 410, which will lead you to the base of Mt. Rainier. You’ll see the trailhead on your left just before some dramatic switchbacks and the parking lot for Tipsoo Lake. Be sure to arrive as early as possible in order to beat the crowds, as this trail is popular in the Pacific Northwest and parking space is limited.
Because the Naches Peak Loop trail is considered an easy hike, it makes for an excellent place to take the family to escape the routine of work and life in the Tri-Cities, if only for a few hours. Children enjoy the hike as much as adults, so be sure to take the little ones along if you have them! Sadly, dogs are not yet allowed on the trail, so you’ll have to leave your furry friends behind on this one. If parting with man’s best friend leaves too much of a sour taste in your mouth, don’t fret! We’re constantly shining a spotlight on hikes around the Pacific Northwest, the vast majority of which are dog friendly.