When it comes to foraging for mushrooms in the Mount Rainier area dozens of edible mushroom species begin to appear in late summer but most species need the first fall rains to come before they appear. Some species even wait until the first frosts. As is well-known mushrooms can be poisonous, so mushroom hunters need to have positively identified species before picking. Familiarize yourself with safe sustainable foraging practices.
WHEN TO GO
- Season: Late summer till the first frost of fall
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
- Mushroom Varieties: chanterelles, matsutake, shaggy mane, pig’s ear, hen-of-the-woods, brain mushrooms. (Pro-Tip if you spot a chanterelle be sure to look around as they often grow in groupings.)
WHERE TO LOOK
- It is important for everyone to be aware of and respect property ownership. The woods and valleys around Lewis County on the southern side of Mt. Rainier National Park boast varieties such as chanterelles, matsutake (pine mushrooms) and some species of boletus. Others such as shaggy manes, brain mushrooms (false morels), hen-of-the-woods and pig’s ear are common in this area as well.
- Morel Mushrooms are now being found at lower elevations near Greenwater and Ashford.
- Mount Rainier National Park, the hike between Narada Falls and Longmire is the best area for locating edible fungi.
- Gifford Pinchot or Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests for Matsutake mushrooms AKA pine mushrooms. Pick mushrooms only in the areas indicated as open to harvest on the Special Forest Products Map. Refer to your national forest mushroom permit for more information.
PERMITS & RESTRICTIONS
- National Forests require a permit for limited collection at the Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests. Permit info here. If you are unable to request a permit online one can be available to you in person by going to the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District during operating hours. Present your identification when visiting the ranger office in person at 10024 US Hwy 12, Randle, WA 98377 please call (360) 497-1100 if you have any additional questions. Permits are required to collect in National Forests. Please note when harvesting mushrooms in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest visitors are restricted to no more than 3 gallons per day for 10 days each calendar year.
- Visitors are restricted to up to two quarts per person per day for non-commercial mushroom foraging in Mount Rainier National Park.
- Spot edible mushrooms above ground only. Do not rake or dig for mushrooms. Raking and digging is not an accepted practice in the national forests.
WHAT TO WEAR & BRING
- Check the weather forecast before you go. Even if the weather forecast does not call for precipation you may hike through some wet brush. You may want to dress in layers. Bring a basket or container to store your fungi and a knife to cut the mushrooms. Refer to a mushroom field guide book to identify species and help keep you safe. Pick only the mushrooms you can confidently identify as safe to consume.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU GO
- Get your permit.
- As a safety precaution make a trip plan prior to your departure and give your travel plan to someone you know that is not going with you and make plans to check-in with them upon your return.
- Pack the 10-Essentials and carry them with you.
- If you suspect that you have consumed a poisonous mushroom, contact a physician, or Washington Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222.
- Avoid eating foraged mushrooms raw.
- Consider joining the Puget Sound Mycological Society to take a class and get field experience with trained people that have local mushroom expertise.
WHO TO CONTACT IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING PERMITS
- Click here to contact Mount Rainier National Park
- Click here to contact the Gifford Pinchot National Forest