The meadows of Paradise are arguably the most popular summer hiking destination located within Mount Rainier National Park. Late each summer, peaking around the second week in August, massive amounts of flowers burst into bloom across the spectacular meadows of Paradise.
You will find many hiking trails in Paradise. Trails range from less than a quarter mile on a paved surface to the five mile dirt, gravel and snow, Skyline Trail which travels the circumference of the meadows. Common flowers that you will find are Indian Paintbrush, Daisies, Lupins, Beargrass and many many others.
The trail to Tolmie Peak provides a wonderful hike. The hike is full of spectacular views unique to the Mount Rainier area. Colorful meadows full of seasonal flowers are one of the many rewards of venturing into this sometimes damp but always rewarding wonderland.
Starting at Mowich Lake (4,950 feet elevation), your hike will follow a part of the Wonderland Trail around the southern edge of the lake. Departing from the relatively level lakeside trail, you rise briefly and continue west until you reach the Ipsut Pass / Tolmie Peak junction From here, you travel south down a few switchbacks and resume your westward travels. Reaching the low point in the hike, you will begin to climb the switchbacks to Eunice Lake. Just before arriving at the lake, you will discover exquisite meadows of seasonal flowers. The meadows are not as vast as those found at Paradise, but they are no less spectacular.
Take a short break to enjoy the views before continuing up the final steep mile to the lookout atop Tolmie Peak (5,939 feet elevation). The final mile is very steep and strenuous. Upon reaching the top of Tolmie Peak you will have a spectacular view of Mount Rainier to the east and directly below you can see Eunice Lake. You should be able to make out the North Mowich and Russell Glaciers on the northwest face of Mount Rainier. Expect to find cold and windy conditions at the top.
Plan for about a 6 hour round trip if you plan to hike all the way to the top. If you stop at Eunice Lake 4.5 – 5 hours round trip is about average.
Tolmie Peak is located on the northwest side of Mt. Rainier. The road is open from July 1 until October 10. Follow Washington State Route 165 for 6 miles past the park entrance where the gravel road will end at Mowich Lake. You can obtain National Park permits at the Route 165 entrance so don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to travel out of your way to the Carbon River entrance to obtain a permit.