Mt Rainier dog friendly hikes are few and far between. But there are so many beautiful trails for dogs just outside of the park that you won’t feel like you’ve missed out at all!
Even a road trip through the park, with stops at its beautiful landmarks, can be special.
This guide covers planning your trip, what to see, and all of the Mount Rainier and surrounding dog-friendly hikes that you just can’t miss.
Planning a Trip to Mount Rainier with Dogs
I’ve visited the area surrounding Mount Rainier with my pups in tow multiple times now and I know we’ll be back again in the future. The gorgeous landscapes against the dramatic backdrop of the mountain itself are nothing short of magic.
However, it can be a tricky vacation to plan if you’re a pet owner! Dogs are heavily restricted within the national park, and there are no specific Mt Rainier dog-friendly trails. You’ll have much better luck in the areas just outside of the park.
To prevent any disappointment, it’s best to plan your trip thoroughly in advance.
Rules for Dogs in Mt Rainier National Park
- Dogs must remain on a leash or in a crate/cage at all times.
- Leashes cannot be longer than six feet in length.
- Dogs must remain with their owners at all times while in the park.
- All waste must be picked up and disposed of properly.
- Pets are not permitted on trails, in the wilderness, in off-trail areas, or in snow.
- Pets cannot access amphitheaters, buildings, or roads that have been closed for the winter.
Mt Rainier Dog Friendly Hikes and Trails
“Uh… so where exactly can my pet go, then?” you might be asking. A totally valid question!
Dogs are permitted on the Pacific Crest Trail, on paved roads that are open to public vehicles, in campgrounds, and in parking lots.
The rules are pretty restrictive. If you’re willing to get creative, however, there are still plenty of ways to get around the park with your dog.
The Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a National Scenic Trail, spanning from Mexico to Canada. This section of the trail dips in and out of Mount Rainier National Park so your dog is covered!
The trail runs from Chinook to White Pass.
It’s approximately 27 miles long and is a spectacular choice for experienced hikers and their dogs, offering amazing views of the mountain and its surroundings. If you time it right, you’ll spot fields of wildflowers on your trek.
Longmire Historic District Walking Tour
This walking tour is relatively dog-friendly, as long as you’re happy to stick to the roads. It’s a great way to explore the local history of the park and take in some of the architecture.
The full walk takes about sixty minutes and is only 1.25 miles long. It’s a fun change of pace if you’re traveling predominantly by car.
Dog-friendly Landmarks and Sights
You don’t need to worry about missing out on the major landmarks during your trip. Many of the major sights can at least be spotted through your car window.
Since this means they are viewable from a paved road, there’s no reason you can’t pull over for a closer look with your pup!
Nisqually Valley Falls
Some people say if you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all. I strongly disagree, and I think most hikers would be on the same page!
The Nisqually Valley Falls are a stark contrast against their rocky surrounds and I found them to be very striking visually. These falls can be viewed from Paradise Road, as you head towards the nearby picnic area.
The view of Christine Falls from the road is breathtaking. You’ll find this 60-foot waterfall just 4.5 miles east of Longmire. The beautiful Christine Falls stone bridge passes directly by the falls.
You have the opportunity to get nice and close without even needing to leave the road!
Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Mount Rainier
This is where your trip will become really special. You’ll can experience great views of the mountain, spectacular landscapes, and even a dog-friendly gondola ride!
Sheep Lake Trail
This hike is 3.6 miles return and 1.8 miles one-way. It brings you to the beautiful Sheep Lake. It’s a perfect place for a dip in warmer weather, surrounded by the unique alpine trees and rocky outcrops.
If you’re traveling with the whole family, then you’ll find this trail to be a great choice in its length and difficulty. However, be sure to keep a close eye on children and pets. There are many points where this trail winds along some steep edges.
We found that sections of this trail were quite exposed, so I’d recommend bringing along some extra water for both you and your pooch.
Snoquera Falls Loop
If you’re an avid fan of waterfalls, then this is the dog-friendly trail for you! Pets are permitted on the Snoquera Falls Loop so long as they are kept on a leash.
This trail is a 3.9-mile round loop, winding its way through the surrounding rainforest. The falls are best seen in the spring, when the surrounding snow begins to melt and get caught up in the flow.
A little bit of scrambling is required which might be difficult for older dogs.
Skookum Flats Trail
This is a relatively gentle walk along the White River. It’s a great choice for pets and kids, with two trail lengths to choose from.
One is a 4.2-mile return hike and leads you directly to Skookum Falls. The trail is relatively flat and easy-going, with some beautiful natural scenery to enjoy along the way.
The second is slightly longer. It’s around 4 miles to the falls, with a 4-mile return to the trailhead. It can get very wet depending on the height of the river and is a little bit swampy at times. We still enjoyed it and felt it would be a great family walk.
Remain aware of your surroundings if you choose this path. Some hikers report minor mudslides and rock falls.
Both trails are beautiful in their own right and I don’t think you miss anything too amazing by taking the shorter trail. We preferred the longer one as a way to kill time, but would happily have just completed the shorter route.
Suntop Lookout is pure magic. The views of Mount Rainier cannot be beaten on a clear day, and the hike is worth it for the payoff.
This hike is significantly shorter than some others listed, at only 2 miles. However, it makes up for this in its steepness.
If you have an older dog, or pup with mobility issues, then this is probably not a great choice.
But if you’re looking to burn off some energy, then this will be a must for you.
Pay close attention to the signage when beginning your hike. There is a second trail that is 16 miles long. I haven’t taken this one myself, but have heard it’s a great experience if you’re hoping for something slightly more challenging.
Some people might refer to hiking at Crystal Mountain as a ‘luxury’ experience. It’s the ultimate dog-friendly escape, featuring a specialized ‘pawtio’ for dining and plenty of dog-friendly hiking trails.
Mount Rainier Gondola
If you want to try something different, why not include a gondola trip? You and your pup can ride in air-conditioned comfort to the summit of Crystal Mountain.
You’ll travel over 2,400 vertical feet in just 9 minutes to the top. On your way up, you’ll experience jaw-dropping views of the surrounding mountains.
Once you’ve reached the top, you can either stop for lunch at Summit House or begin making your way back down the mountain via the seemingly endless number of dog-friendly trails.
Mount Rainier would certainly be one of the more difficult places I have visited with my dogs, but the effort was certainly worth it.
While the Mt Rainier dog-friendly hikes might not lie within the boundaries of the park, the surrounding hikes more than make up for anything you may miss within the park.