“One of the park's gems, Three Lakes provides awesome scenery without the typical Rainier crowds.”
— Tom Robson
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.
Gain one of Rainier's best lake views from the top of this hike. Three Lakes is a sight to behold. These serene, glacially scoured features provide a perfect foreground to the epic background that is Rainier and its surrounding features. Better yet, this hike is one of the less-travelled in the park.
Need to Know
The camp at Three Lakes is one of the few in the park where stock is permitted. With or without stock, permits are required for camping. Camp only in the designated sites. Camping adjacent to the lakes is prohibited! Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers.
For the first mile, the trail has a gentle grade. It then becomes a steady but gradual climb for the next two miles. After these first three miles, the trail ascends steeply for the next 3.5 miles until its junction with the unmaintained East Boundary Trail. Beyond the junction, it descends slightly for a half mile until reaching Three Lakes.
Punctuated by the constant babble of Laughingwater Creek and dense old-growth trees, Three Lakes is an insanely beautiful route. Although the route stays high above the creek and you can't actually see it, its sound provides the perfect backdrop for pristine Rainier views.
Reverence for this pristine sub-alpine environment shouldn't be difficult to come by, but please be sure to stay on the designated trail - the meadows are especially fragile.
Flora & Fauna
The trail follows Laughingwater Creek as it leads hikers through the forest. Stop to enjoy the loud and soothing sound of the creek from its bank. Atop the ridge, hikers will find three small mountain lakes. Mount Rainier can be seen by taking a short half-mile hike beyond the third lake and emerging from the forest into an open area.