Alta Mountain is a rocky summit featuring 360 degree views of Rainier, Hibox, and the Chikamins. It can be done as a long day hike, but is more easily enjoyed as a side trip from an overnight at Lila Lake, Rampart Lakes, or even Rachel Lake.
Start by following the trail to Rachel Lake, a 3.5 mile trail that gets increasingly steep and rugged as you get closer to the lake. There are some waterfalls along the way to distract you from the trail, but the ratio of scenery to effort is low on this early section of the trail.
As you arrive at the lake, look for a trail on your right marked “Trail”, near the trail to the privy (marked “Toilet”). This trail heads north initially, and then turns west as it travels around the north side of the lake. Once you have located the trail, take a break for a few minutes to enjoy Rachel Lake. The lake is a worthy destination in its own right, with plenty of space to spread out and camp, swim, or just relax.
When you’re ready to continue climbing, head back to the trail signed “Trail”. This rocky trail switchbacks steeply up to the ridge in just half a mile. Along the way, you will enjoy periodic views of Rachel Lake.
When you get to the ridge, you’ll see a trail off to your right, and then a few feet later a sign marking that trail. The trail to the left heads to Rampart Lakes, a pretty collection of pothole lakes and a maze of social trails between them. You want the trail to the right, to Lila Lake.
The trail gets a little brushy at times, but is always recognizable. Enjoy a few more views of Rachel Lake. After 0.3 miles, arrive at a junction marked by a cairn. The trail straight ahead leads to Lila Lake, a pretty lake set in a large open basin with plenty of mountain views. The trail to the left is the climber’s path to Alta Mountain.
The path to Alta Mountain is steep at first, featuring loose rock, large steps, and no shade. The grade moderates as you continue, and soon you’re on a knife-edge ridge. The route is non-technical, but those with a fear of heights will be uneasy. Turn back if you hit snow. Enjoy 360 degree views from the summit.
WTA Pro Tip: Set up camp at Lila Lake, summit Alta Mountain with a light pack, and then do a short side-trip to Rampart Lakes the next day.
- 12.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 3,300 feet
- Highest Point
- 6,151 feet
Hiking Alta Mountain
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.3980, -121.2843 Open in Google Maps