mt rainier summer pnw

A stunning evening hike to Thorp Mountain Lookout in Washington

In summer, with the wildflowers glowing in the evening light, I found myself thinking this might be the most beautiful view in Washington. The Thorp Mountain Lookout hike has multiple approaches, is moderately difficult, and packs an incredible punch view-wise.

We took Thorp Creek Rd via Cle Elem, though there are at least two other routes. Thorp Creek Rd was quite gentle, and my Prius did great! Regarding fire lookout hikes in Washington, this is one of the best.

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A Guide to the Thorp Mountain Lookout Hike

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Quick details on the Thorp Mountain Lookout Hike:

  • 7 miles round trip
  • 2,300 feet of elevation gain
  • Moderate difficulty with a lot of steepness toward the end
  • The dirt road is in good condition for any car
  • The trailhead is on a dirt road, so parking can be limited.
  • Starting location

Related: Exceptional Washington bucket list hikes

An exceptional fire lookout hike in Washington

This is a hike that warms you up, and you can’t say that about many Washington hikes.

The first mile and a half is a pretty gentle ascent. Then, it throws you into high gear quickly. You gain nearly 2,000 feet of elevation in two miles from here on. If you’re feeling it or want to jump in, take a quick detour to Thorp Lake. It’s nothing special but will allow you to take a break if you’d like.

Then, hop back on the trail and continue your switchbacks on the Thorp Mountain Lookout hike. Once you leave the trees, a stunning view awaits; hopefully, Mt. Rainier will be out in all her glory.

Furthermore, once you break out of the trees, you’ll begin to see wildflowers. Due to its somewhat lower elevation (sub 5,500 feet) and south facing, these grow earlier than other parts of the state. So, I you’re looking for a great late June/early July hiking/backpacking destination, this is it!

Backpacking to the top

If you’re looking to backpack Thorp Mountain Lookout, you can! But you can’t access the fire lookout. You must bring your tent and gear (or cowboy camp). There are a few places to set up your tent on the ridge line, and you’ll have gorgeous views of Mt Rainier, the cascades, and the lake below.

Photos from the Thorp Mountain Lookout hike

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summer wildflowers PNW fire lookout hike in Washington
fire lookout hike in Washington

What to bring on the Thorp Mountain Lookout hike

Wrapping up – Thorp Mountain Lookout Hike

At the summit, you’ll have 360-degree views of the Alpine Lake Wilderness, Cascades, and Rainier. It’s truly a beautiful view from this fire lookout hike in Washington.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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