When I first moved to King County, in Washington State, one of my first subalpine hikes in summer in the Cascades near Mount Rainier was Naches Peak Loop, at Chinook Pass on Hwy 410. I hiked it every year we lived in King County, from 2003 to 2017. My last hike of the loop was in late September in 2017. We were looking actively to move, and find our future homestead and my inner self told me to find the time to do the hike one more time. I usually would do Naches in the height of wildflower season, and that day showed me that it is prettier in fall. No bugs, no hot weather. The hillsides are on flame in red, orange and yellow hues. It is a hike to take at least once if you are in the area.
The route we usually take is to park at Tipsoo Lakes, in the National Park, just below Chinook Pass. It is free to park there. It has pit toilets, picnic tables and garbage service. Once you leave the car, drop down to the lakes and wander the paths along it.
See the path that comes down the hillside above? That is your return route.
My friend A, and their child came along, as they had never hiked here. He was around 3 then, but he hiked quite a bit of it. I was kid free as the boys were in school that day.
As you round the largest lake on the right, look for the trail that goes up to the highway. You will have Rainier in your face. Pick a sunny day and you won’t be disappointed with the mountain views.
We crossed the highway, and I took them to Upper Tipsoo Lake, which has trails around it. Not many come over here, and it is very quiet – and has excellent mountain views.
Back on the trail we headed up into the woods
In Fall the open hillsides that are low growing blueberry bushes are lit up.
The loop features multiple lakes to visit, and this one is a very popular place for photos. It’s equally pretty in the wildflower season.
One ridge over from the lake. Never quit looking back!
Dewey Lake below, in the distance. It is on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), the junction not being far away. This area makes a great snack spot in Fall, as it is in the sun and warm.
Upper and Lower Dewey Lakes.
Turn left on the PCT junction to make the loop not far beyond this. If you take a right, you will drop quickly in elevation towards Dewey.
Mosquito Home, which does have potential dry campsites hidden in the subalpine woods. However, what was once a barely hiked trail is immensely popular these days and camping up here is just not feasible anymore.
The hike around the bend is pleasant with many spots to take breaks and look at the mountains to the East.
The trail winds around and then descends around Naches Peak. This side is shaded in Fall and can be much colder, especially on windy days.
Possibly one of my favorite lakes to visit, and I have been to it many times.
Sandy bottom, wadeable for children on sunny days. In Fall linger and enjoy the views, for the bugs are gone.
To finish the loop, hike mostly downhill till you come to the Hwy. Cross the bridge and take the junction to the left, towards Tipsoo Lakes. The right continues North on the PCT. The trail will wind through a small draw, then drop downhill and cut across the hillside above Tipsoo.
As long as the trail is snowfree, this is an excellent hike for most ages, and children will love berry picking in the Fall. The lakes in the park section is no swimming, however the lake on the PCT you can wade in.