Skyline Trail

#5 in Best Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park
Skyline Trail picture
Feng Wei Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Recreation, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The start of the 5 ½-mile Skyline Trail sits near the entrance to the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise and is marked by stone steps inscribed with a quote by John Muir that reads: "… the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings." If you head clockwise, the trail climbs 2 miles to Panorama Point, which rewards hikers with breathtaking views.

After this stop, the park service advises hikers use the High Skyline Trail to avoid a dangerous icy slope that never melts, which connects back to the Skyline above the junction with Golden Gate trail (an alternative for a shorter hike). Views along the way include displays of subalpine wildflowers, Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier, and, on a clear day, peaks as far south as Oregon's Mount Hood.

According to visitors, the hike is well worth the three to five hours it takes to make the round-trip journey, calling the views "spectacular." Reviewers do warn the trail can get crowded at times with other hikers and it is not for those who aren't in good health. Many hikers advise getting an early start to avoid crowds.

Access to the Skyline Trail is included in your park admission. Of note, hikers will find a convenient toilet located at Panorama Point. For more information, including current trail conditions visit the NPS website.

See all Hotels in Mount Rainier National Park »

More Best Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park

Paradise
Sunrise
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 5
#1 Paradise

Paradise, which is located at an elevation of 5,400 feet, is a great place to start your park visit and where you'll find the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center, the main visitor center for the park. It offers general information, exhibits, a park film, guided ranger programs, a gift store and a cafeteria. In the summer, this area is ideal for wildflower viewing, and in winter, this is the main area for activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing. The historic Paradise Inn, which is usually open from mid-May to early October, is also located in this area, as is the Guide House, where climbers can obtain permits and hiking and backcountry camping information.

Visitors call the area "breathtaking" and "gorgeous," especially in peak wildflower season (July to August). Paradise also gets high marks for its visitor center and ranger programs. The only downside is that since it is so popular, parking can be hard to come by and you may experience long waits, according to some previous visitors.

Read more
jurgita.photography/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park »

Explore More of Mount Rainier National Park

Recommended

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Gwen PratesiJune 12, 2019

The 16 Best Seattle Tours

Explore the Emerald City's natural beauty and urban offerings with these guided excursions.

Lyn MettlerJune 12, 2019

The 24 Best London Tours

Whether it's your first time in London or you're a repeat visitor, you'll experience a side of the city you've never seen with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJune 6, 2019

The 21 Best Paris Tours

Enhance your visit to the City of Love with one of these top tours.

Claire LawtonJune 5, 2019

The 20 Best New York City Tours

These guided tours help make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

John RodwanJune 4, 2019

The 24 Best Rome Tours

Enjoy the efficiency of an organized tour led by experts who bring Rome's history to life.

Kyle McCarthyMay 31, 2019

The 8 Best Savannah Ghost Tours

Prove you're not afraid of the dark by taking one of these terrifying tours.

Gwen PratesiMay 31, 2019