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Summit Lake

Mount Rainier Area


Mount Rainier Area -- NW - Carbon River/Mowich
View map below


6.1 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1300 ft.
Highest Point: 5800 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2017

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

From the trailhead, the Summit Lake Trail begins by climbing up through a young forest still in the process of recovering from a recent harvest. Soon you enter more mature stands of fir and hemlock as the trail swings into long switchbacks up the mountainside. After about a mile of trail reach a junction with the Carbon River Trail and Twin Lake. A short, unmarked trail leads out to lonely Twin Lake, which lacks both a twin and the impressive landscape waiting at Summit Lake.

Push on from the junction to one of the steeper sections of the hike, following the trail as it quickly ascends the ridgeline. Roughly 2.5 miles from the trailhead, emerge from the woods into the grassy meadows surrounding Summit Lake. If you’re up for more, the trail splits into a loop, winding around the lake and up to the top of Summit Lake Peak. There is often wildlife found in the meadows, including bear, deer, marmot and elk.

The side trail to the Summit Peak is rough, steep and narrow, but the rewards are worth the extra effort. From the top, the deep blue of Summit Lake competes with the white flanks of Mount Rainier. Beyond that, an ocean of mountaintops spreads out in every direction, with far too many peaks to name.

Backpacking Tip: There are several campsites available around Summit Lake on the NE side and S sides of the lake, offering up more exploration opportunities on the nearby Carbon River and Bearhead Mountain Trails. Note that campfires are prohibited in the Summit Lake basin.  And please use the wilderness toilets to go to the bathroom. 


Summit Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.0319, -121.8269 Open map in new window


Mount Rainier Area -- NW - Carbon River/Mowich

Summit Lake (#1177)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District

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Getting There

From Enumclaw drive west on State Route 410 (Chinook Pass Highway) to SR 165. Proceed on SR 165 to the Carbon River Road/Mowich Lake Highway junction. Turn left onto Carbon River Road and follow it to Cayada Creek Road (Forest Road 7810), just before the national park entrance. Turn left (north) and drive about 6.8 miles to the trailhead at the end of FR 7810.

The final push to the trailhead is a very rough road. It's best to have a high-clearance car if you are hoping to get all the way to the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Summit Lake

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