Mushroom Picking at Mount Rainier

A collections of small tan and white mushrooms laid out on moss next to a wood-handled curved knife.
A collection of Hydnum repandum, the hedgehog mushroom.

NPS/B. Garcia Photo

Mount Rainier’s diverse forest and subalpine ecosystems, as well as its high annual levels of precipitation (a yearly average of 126 inches at Paradise!), make it the perfect place to observe wild mushrooms.

The information provided on this website is not intended to serve as an identification guide, but rather as a resource for those who are curious about fungi they encounter in the park; the species descriptions are intentionally brief and are not sufficient to positively identify edible mushrooms. Identifying wild mushrooms can be extremely difficult and consuming them can be deadly. It is of extreme importance that any species collected for the table be examined by an expert. If you are not 100% certain you have identified a mushroom correctly, do not collect it!

Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions about mushroom picking at Mount Rainier.

 

Is it legal to pick mushrooms within the park boundaries?

Yes, with restrictions. Visitors are permitted to pick one gallon of edible fungi per person per day for personal use or consumption. Harvesting for commercial use (selling to restaurants, grocery stores, etc.) is not permitted. While mushroom hunting, please strive to minimize your impact and always stay on trail in the following areas: Paradise, Sunrise, Tipsoo Lake meadows area, and Ohanapecosh hot springs area.


Are there poisonous mushrooms at Mount Rainier?

Absolutely! Mount Rainier is home to many species of poisonous mushrooms that range from mildly toxic to deadly. Often, these species are difficult to distinguish from edible species even with extensive training and experience. Some poisonous species you are likely to encounter include the funeral bell (Galerina marginata), various Amanita spp., and the false morel (Gyromitra esculenta). Only harvest mushrooms for the table if you are an experienced mushroom identifier and make sure you verify your findings with an expert. Your life could depend on it!


Is it dangerous to handle mushrooms?

Probably not. There are no known mushrooms in North America that are harmful to touch (although allergic reactions are not unheard of). However, if you have handled a mushroom of unknown toxicity, it is a good practice to thoroughly wash your hands, especially before eating lunch.


Doesn’t picking mushrooms kill them?

No. Picking a mushroom is similar to picking a berry or apple in that the larger organism is usually not harmed. Mount Rainier’s Superintendent's Compendium states, “the gathering or consumption of a limited amount of berries and edible fungi has been determined to not adversely affect park wildlife, the reproductive potential of the plant species or otherwise adversely affect park resources.” However, please practice restraint and do not pick mushrooms unless you are actively identifying or harvesting for the table. If you find an interesting or beautiful mushroom, we encourage you to snap a picture and leave it in place for others to enjoy.


Where is the best place in the park to observe or pick mushrooms?

During the late summer and fall, Mount Rainier’s lowland forests display incredible fungal diversity. Trails near Longmire, Ohanapecosh, and White River are great places to see wild mushrooms. Don’t forget to bring along the ten essentials!


I am interested in learning more about wild mushrooms! Where should I start?

Many areas have local mushroom clubs, which provide great opportunities to learn from experts, get help with mushroom identification, and meet others who share your interest in fungi. Do some research and find out what clubs are active in your area! Additionally, invest in a few good field guides, especially those that are regionally focused.

 

Last updated: June 23, 2021

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