Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
Built » 1934
Elevation » 7181 Ft
Hike » 5.6 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain » 800 Ft
Fremont Lookout is located in the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park, only seven miles from Rainier’s summit. The hike from the Sunrise Visitor Center takes you through subalpine meadows filled with wildflowers, past Frozen Lake, and up a rocky ridge to the lookout. On a clear day, the lookout provides sweeping views of Mount Rainier, Grand Park, the Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains.
The first fire lookout built on Mount Rainier was the Anvil Rock Lookout, a stone structure built in 1916 on the mountain’s southeast shoulder. In 1930, another lookout was built on the Colonnade on Rainier’s northwest shoulder. Although both locations provided sweeping vistas of the surrounding forest, they were often shrouded in clouds, which limited visibility. The Park and Forest Services eventually came to realize that the more reliable views were not on the mountain itself, but on the lower surrounding peaks immune to perpetual cloud cover.
With the Great Depression of the 1930s and the creation of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps, the Park and Forest Services had an army of labor at their disposal to construct new fire towers. Between 1932 and 1934, seven lookouts were built within the park. Today, the four that remain are on Mount Fremont, Tolmie Peak, Shriner Peak, and Gobbler’s Knob.
At an elevation of 7,181 feet, Fremont Lookout has the distinction of being Rainier’s highest remaining lookout. The building is a two-story 14′ x 14′ cabin with a balconied lookout and living quarters on the second level, and storage on the ground floor. It was built from standard lookout plans developed in the 1930s by the National Park System under Chief Architect Edwin A. Nickel. The Fremont Lookout was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
My Hike » 08.13.15
There is little to no shade on this trail, so be sure to bring your sunscreen and plenty of water! And although there are only 800 feet of elevation gain overall, most of it is concentrated at the beginning and the end of the trail, so expect a few steep climbs on either end of an otherwise leisurely hike.
If you’re lucky, you might see a herd of mountain goats complete with adorable babies frolicking in a meadow. Look for them down below as you start the last climb up to the lookout.
The burgers in the gift shop dining area of the Sunrise Visitor’s Center were surprisingly delicious. It’s possible that I was just really hungry after camping and subsisting mainly on yogurt and granola, but it’s also possible that they were just surprisingly delicious.
From Enumclaw, head east on WA-410 for approximately 37 miles, and turn right onto Sunrise Park Road/White River Road. After 5.3 miles you will cross the White River. Stay right to continue onto Sunrise Park Road. Drive 10 more miles to the Sunrise Visitor’s Center.