Why visit Tipsoo Lake at Mount Rainier National Park?
Tipsoo Lake is gorgeous throughout the year but when the wildflowers are in bloom at Tipsoo Lake you may feel like you stepped onto a Disney film set. The wildflower meadows are incredible! Since the blooms are dependent on weather patterns and snowmelt, it’s hard to predict when the wildflowers will make their debut. Typically we see blooms as early as late July with the peak blooms happening in mid-August.
No strenuous hike is required. If you can walk through a mall you can easily stroll around Tipsoo Lake. The trail is simple to follow and relatively flat.
Before you leave the car talk to your kids about how important it is that we protect the wildflowers. It’s critical that visitors stay on the trail. A wildflower meadow is a fragile environment. We need to stay on the trail so we don’t stomp on the soil. Stomping on the soil will damage the meadow and harm future blooms. This is also why visitors should leave dogs at home or supervised back at the car in the paved parking lot. Dogs are not allowed on the trails at Mount Rainier National Park.
If you’re traveling with older kids or children that enjoy a longer hike consider tackling the Naches Peak Loop Trail. The Naches Peak Loop Trail is 3.5 miles long and features approximately 700 feet of elevation gain. The highest point of the trail is 5849 ft. Families that hike this trail on a clear day can expect to see views of Mount Rainier, lakes and valley. Many people start the Loop Trail clockwise as it keeps Mount Rainier in view for a good portion of the hike. Wildlife encounters with marmots, elk, and deer are common. Always keep wildlife wild. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and never feed the animals.
What to know before you visit Tipsoo Lake with kids.
- There are restrooms right by the parking lot
- There are a few picnic tables near the parking lot
- There is no restaurant or cafe at Tipsoo Lake so pack snacks or a picnic basket
- The best souvenir is a photo, do not pick the wildflowers
- There are no benches or seating along the lake
- There is no entrance gate, you access the lake through the trailhead located right off the parking lot
- There is no swimming area at the lake
Best time to visit Tipsoo Lake with a family?
- July and August when the wildflowers are blooming (but fall is a good time to visit too)
- Mid-week when the crowds tend to be smaller
- Early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s easier to get a parking spot
Where is Tipsoo Lake?
Located off of Highway 410, the Mather Memorial Parkway part of the Chinook Scenic Byway. GPS coordinates are 46.8691° N, 121.5175° W. From Enumclaw, drive east approximately 47-miles on State Route 410 to the junction with SR 123. Stay left to continue east on SR 410 another 3 miles. Park in the Tipsoo Lake parking lot on your left just past the footbridge marking Chinook Pass.
- Bring bug spray and apply it before you leave the parking lot
- If the pullout parking lot is full, try parking in the main lot and follow trails past Tipsoo Lake to the upper parking lot
- Families that plan to hike the Naches Peak Loop Trail are encouraged to pack the 10 Essentials
- Alta Crystal Resort is located approximately 12 miles from Tipsoo Lake. This family-friendly resort has an outdoor pool, suites and cabins.
- White River Campground is approximately 15 miles from Tipsoo Lake. This campground offers 112 campsites on a first-come-first-served basis.
Q: Can I go wading or swimming at Tipsoo Lake?
A: No, that’s not really permitted. Tipsoo Lake is an important breeding ground for the Western Toad and the Cascade Frog. The Western Toad is especially sensitive to chemicals and oils on our skin. Going off-trail to get to the shoreline can damage this fragile environment and harm the pollywogs.