Tolmie Peak Lookout is most certainly a favorite 3-in-1 hike offering an adventurous drive, refreshing lakes, and breath taking views. Located in the Mt. Rainier area, near Carbon River and Mowich campground, this popular hike is worth the crowds and the drive. The hike starts at beautiful Mowich Lake, where you can find a couple signs leading you to the Eunice Lake trail. We considered this our first break destination. From Eunice Lake it is less than a mile to the old fire lookout cabin.
Now this summary does not do the hike any justice so let me break down our adventure further. After a long 1.5hr drive from Seattle we found ourselves at a fork in the road. Fortunately, the signage was clear and we veered right to the well traveled dirt road leading to the trail head. The road is approximately 17 miles and you will eventually see a fee area at the 11th mile if you need to pay up. Please do! We drive a Jeep Renegade which is comfortable on these roads, however we saw all vehicles making this trip. From Mercedes to Mini vans, there was little fear spared on this long lightly maintained dirt road. The worst part wasn’t the rough road, but the corners and speeding drivers which could be a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful. Once we arrived at the Mowich Campground parking lot we quickly realized that we wouldn’t be parking in the 20 space parking lot instead we found a nice spot alongside the road along with the hundreds of other brave drivers who made the trek up.
Shortly after parking and stretching our legs we set out to find the trail and begin our adventure. Finding our way along the trail toward Eunice Lake we took in the fresh air and gorgeous views of Mowich Lake. There are some switch-back that descend and ascend in varying places which always reminds me of what will be waiting for me on the way back. After 2 miles of greeting passer-bys and cool air under the canopy we arrived at a clearing. Multiple footpaths etched out leading to numerous lake side hangouts offering a different perspective at each. This is a popular place to take a moment and soak it up. Stick your feet in, grab a snack, meet a fellow hiker, and of course snap some photos. After a few minutes we look across the lake to an enormous rock wall with a tiny wooden structure a top. We questioned if it was truly the lookout as it appeared extremely higher in elevation and the distance remaining seemed so small. Guess what? It is certainly the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout cabin and that last 0.9 miles is worth every last drop of sweat, heavy breathing, and rolled ankles.
A sight from the top has an effect like no other. A sense of accomplishment overwhelms and the air is thinner forcing you to slow down. The backdrop is Mt. Rainier with its raw beauty and reminder of the force of Mother Nature. Rolling tree lines and crystal blue lakes sitting below. In the distance is the lake we started our adventure at. Then we focused our attention on the lookout cabin. Old wooden stairs lead you to its narrow wrap around porch which is perfect for the ultimate view while hanging your feet off the edge. Replenish with water and a snack while taking in this spectacular perspective on the great outdoors.
If you are looking for a good hike that gives you so much more than a path beneath the trees then spend a day on this hike! For information on the hike: Tolmie Peak Lookout