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Summit Lake

Mount Rainier Area > NW - Carbon River/Mowich
47.0319, -121.8269 Map & Directions
6.1 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
1,300 feet
Highest Point
5,800 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Summit Lake. Photo by Connoquenessing. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Summits
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
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This popular summer trail offers wildflower-filled meadows, a glistening alpine lake, big mountain views and wildlife sighting aplenty. Continue reading

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Hiking Summit Lake

From the trailhead, the Summit Lake Trail begins by climbing up through a young forest still in the process of recovering from a recent harvest. Soon you enter more mature stands of fir and hemlock as the trail swings into long switchbacks up the mountainside. After about a mile of trail reach a junction with the Carbon River Trail and Twin Lake. A short, unmarked trail leads out to lonely Twin Lake, which lacks both a twin and the impressive landscape waiting at Summit Lake.

Push on from the junction to one of the steeper sections of the hike, following the trail as it quickly ascends the ridgeline. Roughly 2.5 miles from the trailhead, emerge from the woods into the grassy meadows surrounding Summit Lake. If you’re up for more, the trail splits into a loop, winding around the lake and up to the top of Summit Lake Peak. There is often wildlife found in the meadows, including bear, deer, marmot and elk.

The side trail to the Summit Peak is rough, steep and narrow, but the rewards are worth the extra effort. From the top, the deep blue of Summit Lake competes with the white flanks of Mount Rainier. Beyond that, an ocean of mountaintops spreads out in every direction, with far too many peaks to name.

Backpacking Tip: There are several campsites available around Summit Lake on the NE side and S sides of the lake, offering up more exploration opportunities on the nearby Carbon River and Bearhead Mountain Trails. Note that campfires are prohibited in the Summit Lake basin.  And please use the wilderness toilets to go to the bathroom. 

WTA worked here in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013 and 2012!

Hike Description Written by
Nate and Jer Barnes, WTA Correspondent

Summit Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.0319, -121.8269 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Enumclaw drive west on State Route 410 (Chinook Pass Highway) to SR 165. Proceed on SR 165 to the Carbon River Road/Mowich Lake Highway junction. Turn left onto Carbon River Road and follow it to Cayada Creek Road (Forest Road 7810), just before the national park entrance. Turn left (north) and drive about 6.8 miles to the trailhead at the end of FR 7810.

The final push to the trailhead is a very rough road. It's best to have a high-clearance car if you are hoping to get all the way to the trailhead.

More Hike Details


Mount Rainier Area > NW - Carbon River/Mowich

Summit Lake (#1177)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District

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Summit Lake

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