Distance: 3.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass OR National Parks Pass (depending on where you park)
Wildflower, views and lush mountainsides are my favorite kind of hikes. Remember when I went wildflower hunting in Utah? I just love seeing a sea of color dotting the mountainside. Naches Peak Loop is beautiful year-round, but I think summer and fall are the best times to go (wildflowers/leaf peeping).
This trail is an excellent option because it provides a wide range of “alpine experiences” in a short loop trail. There are views of the canyon, forested portions, views of lakes, and of course, an epic view of Mount Rainier. I would suggest doing the loop clockwise as WTA suggests because it starts you in the Pacific Crest Trail area, and winds around Naches Peak to reward the hiker with the view of Mount Rainier in all her glory. It was easy and the weather was warm and sunny (but not too hot). The one downside is that it’s not dog friendly on the National Parks side, but the PCT is dog friendly. Because of this, we decided to leave Koda at home for this one as we wanted to respect the rules.
From the ranger station in Enumclaw, drive east on State Route 410 (Chinook Pass Highway) about 44 miles. Half a mile before (west of) Chinook Pass, park at the Tipsoo Lake parking area. Facilities are available at the Tipsoo Lake parking area.