Mowich Lake

A strenuous snowshoe along a closed road in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park

getting there

From Enumclaw drive 5 miles west on SR 410 to the small town of Buckley and on the west end of town, turn left (south) onto SR 165. Continue 10 miles through the communities of Carbonado and Wilkeson before crossing the one-lane bridge over the deep Fairfax Gorge on the Carbon River. Just beyond the bridge, turn right onto Mowich Lake Road (Forest Road 79) a narrow road that climbs through a clearcut slope. Drive 11 miles to the national park boundary or to the snow line. Park along the road, leaving the roadway clear so that other vehicles can pass and turn around safely.


The official start of this trail is at the Mowich Lake Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, at the point where the road is no longer plowed in the winter.  Conditions will vary, however, and you may need to park lower down and will have a longer trek to the lake. Hike along the road past the Paul Peak trail. The first two miles travel through the trees before opening up into Mowich Meadows. At 3 miles there is a small trail on the left which climbs steeply for 0.25 miles before rejoining the road, trimming off about a half mile of road walk. You can continue on the road for a slightly longer approach or cut across the road and continue climbing steeply south. At mile 4.3 you'll intersect the road once more and this time head east until you run into the lake after an additional 0.5 miles.

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 10.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft
  • 5,000 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • Sea Trails Rosario Strait Bellingham WA001
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269
  • USGS Mt Rainier West

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