If you find yourself searching for that picturesque shot of Mount Rainier from an elevated location, try hiking High Rock Lookout.
It’s situated just outside the national park, so dogs are allowed.
This short and sweet hike is just over 3 miles roundtrip, with about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. However, the bulk of the trek is uphill, so it will take longer than you think.
One tip before you start, make sure you’re on the right trail!
There are a few trail heads without names in the area. There is a sign nailed to a tree labeled “High Rock Lookout”. From the trailhead you can actually see your destination; a huge outcrop of rock that tops out at 5,685 feet!
The trail follows a well-marked path along a ridgeline known as the Sawtooth Ridge. You’ll be walking through the trees most of the way, but there are a few places where views on both sides of the ridge open up. Mount Rainier is to the northeast.
Another tip: bring plenty of water. There are no amenities on this hike, and no water source. Even through three miles doesn’t seem like a long way, the uphill side can take a lot out of you.
One last steeper section before you get your first view of the lookout which sits on a mostly vegetation-free cliff.
This part of the hike is not for the faint of heart. The flat, sloped rock the lookout is attached to turns to a vertical 5-600 foot drop! Keep kids and pets close!
The lookout itself does need a little work, with chipped paint and a little graffiti. You can walk right inside where there’s a guest book you can sign.
The best views are outside with postcard worthy views of Mount Rainier and the southern Cascades.