Southern Cascades | South Cascade Crest
Mount Rainier National Park
Location: 46.813595, -121.530712
Summit Elevation: 5,834′
Lookout Type: 14’x14′ National Park Service style cab
Site Established: 1932
Current Structure Built: 1932
Dates Visited: 5/29/05, 9/7/17
Shriner Peak is the oldest of four remaining fire lookouts inside Mount Rainier National Park and guards the Park’s quieter, lonelier southeast corner. Camping on the summit is allowed with a wilderness permit. The trail wastes no time climbing 3,500′ in just over 4 miles.
Photos mostly from a 2017 visit with the exception of one from 2005.
Built in 1932, Shriner Peak is the oldest of four remaining lookouts inside Mount Rainier National Park. The lookout was constructed according to the standard design of the National Park Service Branch of Plans and Designs. The ground floor houses a storage room with an upper-level lookout and living space. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1991 as well as the National Historic Lookout Register in 1996.
In 1934, Shriner Peak saw a lot of activity during a large fire in July that burned 630 acres of park land. Shriner Peak was staffed into the 80s and oftentimes is staffed by a volunteer in summer.
I’m still on the hunt for historical photos of Shriner as not many seem to exist.
Distance (RT): 8.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,434′
Summit Elevation: 5,834′
The trail to Shriner is no slouch and gains a steady 3,500′ in 4.2 miles straight to the top. Located on Mount Rainier’s lonely southeast corner, the trail begins in forest, but soon becomes dry, hot, and exposed as a result of past forest fires. Plan ahead and bring plenty of water because you’re not likely to find any near the trail and this is a warm, exposed hike.
A bit past halfway, the Mountain makes its first appearance and wildflower shows can be beautiful in late summer. The last mile to the top is rocky and dusty and the lookout finally becomes visible a quarter mile from the summit.
A few campsites exist on the summit, all requiring wilderness permits. Because Shriner is a less visited area of the park, the chances of getting a permit are higher, but know that this is a very dry trail so haul up plenty of water if you do stay. Chances of seeing wildlife on this trail are also quite high and bear, elk, deer and grouse all frequent the area. Make sure to store your food correctly.
From the top, enjoy big views of Mount Rainier, Adams, Mount St. Helens, the Cowlitz Divide, and Goat Rocks. The lookout is often staffed by a park volunteer in summer so you might even get lucky and get a tour!
Drive Highway 410 east through Enumclaw and Greenwater to Cayuse Pass. Stay right and merge onto State Route 123 (Cayuse Pass Highway). In approximately 7.5 miles, reach a trailhead on the east side of the road, easy to miss if you’re not paying attention, but it does have a large sign with a trail map. There is parking along the opposite side of the road. Use caution when crossing.