• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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Three Lakes Trail

Trail route from Highway 123 near Stevens Canyon entrance to Three Lakes/ SE.
Map of the Three Lakes Trail route from Hwy 123. Use of a topographic map of the area is recommended.
 

Trail Description:

Distance, round-trip:

12 miles

Elevation gain:

2700 feet

Hiking time, round-trip:

6 hours

Wilderness camps:

Three Lakes

Drive one mile north of Ohanapecosh on SR 123. Park on the west side of the road at Laughingwater Creek. The trailhead is across the highway.

For the first mile the trail has a gentle grade. It then becomes a steady but gradual climb for the next two miles. After these first three miles, the trail ascends steeply for the next 3.5 miles until its junction with the unmaintained East Boundary Trail. Beyond the junction, it descends slightly for a half mile until reaching Three Lakes.


Along the Trail:


The trail follows Laughingwater Creek as it leads hikers through the forest. Stop to enjoy the loud and soothing sound of the creek from its bank. Atop the ridge hikers will find three small mountain lakes. Mount Rainier can be seen by taking a short half-mile hike beyond the third lake and emerging from the forest into an open area.


Backpacking:


The camp at Three Lakes is one of the few in the park where stock is permitted. With or without stock, permits are required for camping. Camp only in the designated sites. Camping adjacent to the lakes is prohibited! Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

Did You Know?

President Taft visits Paradise in 1911.

In 1911, President William Howard Taft's touring car was the first vehicle to drive the newly-built road to Paradise. The road was very muddy, and the car had to be pulled through the upper portion by a team of mules. Learn more about Mount Rainier's transportation history at the following link: More...