7.5 miles roundtrip
Out and Back
From route 410 at Buckley, turn south onto Route 165 (Mowich Lake Road) and drive to the trailhead at the end of the road.
The Tolmie Peak Trail is a beautiful hike along two subalpine lakes and nearby meadows to a fire lookout with incredible views of the surrounding peaks and an amazing view of Mount Rainier. With one more day in Washington, I hit the trail on Thursday, September 27, 2018 to the Tolmie Peak Lookout on a beautiful fall afternoon. This hike to an historic fire lookout has amazing views of Mount Rainier and the sapphire blue Eunice Lake. This hike was the high point of my trip to Washington State. It was such a beautiful hike with amazing weather with high pressure blowing away all the smoke and clouds. The fall colors were near their peak.
This trail has EPIC VIEWS of Mount Rainier and Eunice Lake.
Suggest checking NPS Trail Conditions before starting.
The National Park Entrance Fee is required.
After turning onto the Mowich Lake Road, which is beyond the Carbon River Bridge, right outside the town of Carbonado. The road up to the lake is 17 miles long and is a rough, dirt road with some climbing, which was a fun trip for my 2017 sky blue Jeep Wrangler JKU Chief Edition. Although many cars made the trip up to Mowich Lake, I suggest bringing a high clearance vehicle.
The trailhead is located on the left side of the road in the parking area at Mowich campground. The hike starts along the west side of Mowich Lake for about half a mile before turning northward to Ipsut Pass. The Mowich campground is a walk-in only facility along the Wonderland Trail. Many hikers and campers were taking a dip in the lake, probably celebrating the completion of their hike. Remember to check with the Washington Trails Association Hiking Guide or a park ranger before you try this hike. The roads leading to both the Tolmie and Fremont lookout trails typically open in late June/early July.
The trail joins part of the Wonderland Trail and goes along the west side of Mowich Lake through an open lowland forest. The trail then starts to gradually gaining elevation, then things get steep as the trail moves away from the lake and after about 2 miles (from trailhead) is Ipsut Pass.
Keep left at the pass and continue another 0.8 miles to big blue Eunice Lake. Just be careful not to trample the fragile meadows around the lake.
The trail continues past Eunice Lake for the final climb up switchbacks to the Tolmie Peak Lookout, about a mile from the lake. This section of trail gets pretty steep during the climb to Tolmie Peak. The trail bends around to the north side of the peak for views of the peaks and valleys north, including the large Carbon River Valley.
The Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout is one of four fire lookout stations built in Mount Rainier National Park by the United States National Park Service (NPS) between 1932 and 1934. The two-story structure houses a lookout station on the upper level and storage at ground level. The design was prepared under the supervision of Edwin A. Nickel of the NPS Branch of Plans and Designs.
The Tolmie Peak Lookout was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1991. It is part of the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District, which encompasses the entire park and which recognizes the park’s inventory of Park Service-designed rustic architecture. National Register Information System ID #91000195
Once arriving at the Tolmie Peak Lookout, turn your attention to the large mountain visible to the south. Rainier is huge from this vantage point, and the sapphire blue Eunice Lake scintillating at the bottom of Tolmie Peak provides an awesome place for a photo.
Tolmie Peak is a 5,920-foot (1,800 m) peak in northwestern Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. It is located 2 miles (3.2 km) northwest of Mowich Lake. The two streams that drain the slopes of Tolmie Peak, Tolmie Creek and Ranger Creek, meet up with the Carbon River, which flows into the Puyallup River and Puget Sound. Eunice Lake is just south of Tolmie Peak in a basin carved by glaciers (Beckey, 2000). Howard Peak is northwest of Tolmie Peak.
Tolmie Peak is named for Dr. William Fraser Tolmie (Majors, 1975), In August 1833, employed by Hudson’s Bay Company and stationed at the newly built Fort Nisqually, Dr. Tolmie made the first recorded exploration of the Mount Rainier area. Unable to summit Rainier itself, Tolmie and two Indian guides, Lachalet and Nuckalkat, summited one of the snowy peaks near the Mowich River headwaters. Although Tolmie Peak is named for this event, it is not known exactly which peak was climbed (Morgan, 1979).
Guidebooks, Maps and References
Harvey, David (September 30, 1982). “Pacific Northwest Regional Office Inventory: Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout“. National Park Service.
Majors, Harry M. (1975). Exploring Washington. Van Winkle Publishing Co. p. 125. ISBN 9780918664006.
“National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
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The photos in this blog post can be viewed and purchased on SmugMug.com in the Tolmie Peak Lookout Gallery.