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Tatoosh Lakes

South Cascades


South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
View map below


6.6 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 3400 ft.
Highest Point: 5750 ft.


3.29 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2020

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


From the north trailhead for Tatoosh Trail 161, climb 2.5 miles to the signed junction with Tatoosh Lakes Trail 161B. The spur trail is open to hikers only; not even horses are allowed. Head uphill on the Lakes Trail, climbing 150 feet in an eighth of a mile, then cresting over the ridge to a different view of Mount Rainier. Drop steeply down on good trail. There is just one brief section with loose rocks underfoot. A short way down, a sign reads “No camping fire or stock”. Note that this is now true of the entire Lakes basin, not just where the sign is.

Drop down into Tatoosh Lakes basin at 5150 feet, where the outflow of the chained lakes can be heard gurgling down a small ravine. The trail leads past the two Tatoosh Lakes, which are separated by only 100 feet. Admire the rugged beauty of the cirque that hosts the upper lake. Look at the steep walls due south of that larger lake, and marvel that the original trail down to Tatoosh Lakes wound its way down that slope! (Old maps labeled that path “Dangerous Section”.)

When it is time to leave, return the way you came.


Tatoosh Lakes

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.7132, -121.7160 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley

Tatoosh (#161), Tatoosh Lakes (#161B)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking South Cascades (Dan A. Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Download a map to plan your hike

Buy the Green Trails Packwood No. 302 map

Getting There

From the eastern end of Packwood, turn north from Highway 12 onto Skate Creek Road S. After four miles, turn right on gravel road FR 5270. The road is little more than one lane wide, and has numerous potholes. At 9.7 miles from U.S. 12, bear right at the ‘Y’ and continue to the trailhead sign “Tatoosh Trail 161” at 11.1 miles. A wide shoulder provides parking for about a dozen vehicles. The trailhead kiosk provides the required self-serve Wilderness Permit, but there are no other amenities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Tatoosh Lakes

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