Tatoosh Ridge Trail is a 11 mile out and back trail located near Packwood, WA that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and horses and is accessible from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
From Packwood, drive north 4 miles on Skate Creek Road (Forest Service Road 52) to Forest Service Road 5270. Turn right and drive 6 miles to the signed trailhead on the right.
I hiked Tatoosh Peak on Oct 4. 2014 using the Tatoosh North trailhead for a 12 mile RT hike that took 8 hours counting stops. Accessible from road 5270, 10 miles from Packwood. Tatoosh Peak can also be accessed from the Tatoosh South trailhead for a 16.4 mile trailhead to trailhead hike. At the north trailhead, parking is on the one-laned road with small pullouts that can accommodate a fair amount of vehicles.
Steps greet you right from the get-go. Shortly you’ll enter the Tatoosh Wilderness and gain 300ft before you start 12 or so strenuous switchbacks that add to its difficulty. You’ll have the forest view for a bit that soon opens up as you start cresting the ridge. You’ll switchback across a spring which is a good water source. If you don’t stop by the lakes, there is no other water source in October on your way to the peak.
As you’d expect in October, wildflowers are dead and meadows are changing from greens to browns, yellows and reds. The vistas are still amazing though. Once out of the forest, the rest of the hike traverses the ridge at about the 5600ft mark and is among the meadows. Soon the junction to Tatoosh Lakes appears. Continue straight if heading to the peak. In a mile or so the contour crosses a ridge where views of the back side of Tatoosh Peak and the Packwood Valley can be seen. Follow this along for another mile or so to a saddle where you can continue on to the South Tatoosh trailhead if you like. It’s a 180 degree view with distant views of the Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams to name a few. Just before the saddle is the junction to Tatoosh Peak. Turn left and climb 400ft following the ridge where the trail can be seen leading to the peak.
Up until now, parts of Mt. Rainier have only been seen a couple times and it comes into full view at the peak. Now, Mt. Rainier is in your face and although it was cloud covered and getting darker, it’s still amazing. Atop the peak Mt. Adams, The Goat Rocks, Mount St. Helens and in the distance Mt. Hood can be seen as well as parts of the foundation of an old lookout. The view isn’t quite 360 degrees as a few trees block the view, but almost. They can be avoided by moving along the peak a few yards. Below the peak is a small glacier fed pond still mostly covered in ice. To the left you can see that the ridgeline continues. After a 15-20 minute lunch I continued along the ridgeline in an attempt to view Tatoosh Lakes, however, was abruptly stopped by a developing storm that traveled from Mt. Rainier to me in no-time. It poured and I found myself with no place to hide and quickly headed back to the peak and down the ridge to the saddle as it continued to rain for 30-45 minutes. By the time I made it back to the lakes junction, I was dry again.
I hiked this 10yrs ago and remember that Mt. Rainier was in your face. I’ve wanted to do it again ever since. Today the timing was a bit off but all things considered, I’d do it again in a heartbeat… albeit during wildflower season.
I started at the north TH as described in the driving directions but I'm pretty sure you can also start from a south TH as well. This is a really pretty hike with huge green slopes and wildflowers galore. It was a really hot day out and the climb is fairly steep, so I was warn out by the time I made it to Tatoosh Peak. Plenty of bugs to keep me company too. There is not much shade at the top so I recommend getting an early start and bring sunscreen. The views are worth it and even if you can't make it all the way to the peak there is a well defined short trail up a ridge that you come to about 1/2 mile after turning right at the Tatoosh Ridge/Tatoosh Lakes junction that offers some excellent views.
So amazing views from the wildflower meadow, maybe around 10 different types of wildflowers and at least 3 different butterflies. This hike is a steady and constant climb but the payoff is large. The road to the trail has some rough spots but I made it on a car. Flies were a bit annoying but tolerable. Overall great hike, but be ready for a climb!
Did this hike weekend of July 6th 2012. It is definitely a steady climb but don't be discouraged by all the reviews. If you start early enough and take a few breaks along the way this trail is accessible to those of us not in "ideal" shape. Unfortunately the trail is covered by snow near the top so I wasn't able to make it to the lakes. It was disappointing to not get to the lakes or the remains of the old lookout as we had perfect weather for 360 views. I'd say we got to about 4700' of the 5250' the lakes are marked at. Had I have had yak trax or microspikes the trail would have been ok to cross from what I could tell.
Despite being denied my destination the hike was still lovely. The forest service road sign 5270 is beat up and very difficult to see also the mileage from the sign to the TH is more like 4-6 miles than the 2.2 noted on my directions. My dog loved the hike but please bring water for your four-legged-friends as there is not much along the trail.
I will attempt to get to the lakes again but looking like mid-August. I saw one other person on the trail all day. It was lovely to have the mountain to just me and my dog.
Steady climb on this hike, biting flies kept us moving at a steady pace, older dog wore out so we turned around before completing entire trail to the ridge. Beautiful wildflowers! Plan to try again and leave the dog at home.