With pristine views of the towering Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot volcano in the national park with its namesake, Mount Fremont Lookout Trail offers arguably the most distinguished and diverse views in Mount Rainier National Park.
When hikers traverse the 2.8 miles one-way to the trail’s peak, they come to Fremont Point Cabin sitting perched atop a peak that overlooks the park. Fremont Point Cabin is a two-story watchmen post constructed in 1934 to serve as a forest fire lookout facility and it’s one of the last remaining fire lookouts in Mount Rainier National Park.
But it’s there on Mount Fremont Lookout Trail that hikers are met with a panoramic view for the ages. Look left and you see snow-capped Mount Rainier towering over the many smaller peaks in the mountain range. Look right and you see rolling green valley pastures met with mountains as far as the eyes can see.
Mount Fremont Fire Lookout Trail in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park takes you up a semi-steep path of large rocks and dirt, through a stretch of flat grassy prairies, next to the infamous Frozen Lake and beside cliffs with a steep and rocky drop-off before culminating in a postcard-worthy, 360-degree view with the old Fremont Point Cabin fire lookout in the foreground.
For just a moderate 5.6-mile out-and-back hike, Mount Fremont Fire Lookout Trail offers breathtaking views of the many landscapes encompassing Mount Rainier National Park and the mighty Cascade Mountain Range.
Hike Details: Mount Fremont Lookout Trail
- Distance: 5.6 miles out and back
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 1,145 feet
- Amount of Time Needed: 3 hours
Sights to See Along Mount Fremont Lookout Trail
Instantaneous Payoff Views of Mount Rainier
Mt Fremont Lookout Trail begins along a well-routed path outside the Sunrise Visitor Center, quickly providing instantaneous payoff views of Mount Rainier before picking up the pace to a semi-steep rocky path, which also weeds out the herd of hikers that don’t make it more than a few hundred yards from the cushy seat of their car.
No more than five minutes into the hike, you’re met with a splendid view of Mount Rainier, which is set among a grassy prairie filled with towering pines. Hiking to this point is extremely easy and is only about 0.3 miles in.
Sourdough Ridge Trail
The path leads you up a semi-steep and rocky path to heights that not many people make it to. If you’re not in decent shape, this will be the toughest part of the hike. But push through and you’ll find that you certainly can do it and you’ll be able to see the sights that few and far between get to see!
If you veer right on the path before the junction to Frozen Lake, you’ll take a slight detour for your first glimpse of green pastures, hazy mountains leading to neighboring Oregon and wildlife basking in the sun.
Thanks to a nice park ranger who showed us the detour, we wound up seeing a white mountain goat basking in the sun on a patch of snow.
Once you get back on Sourdough Ridge Trail, look left and you’ll see Mount Rainier in the distance. Look right and you’ll see a wall of rocks that were stacked many, many years ago, making way for a smooth footpath leading to the base of the mountain and many of its counterparts.
The next vibrant display is Frozen Lake, a small natural glacial reservoir that glows greenish-blue and provides much of the area with clean drinking water. Frozen Lake is a great halfway point to stop and take in the scenery.
Since it’s used for drinking water, you can’t go into the lake. I presume it’s too cold anyway, judging by the water’s edge displaying a vibrant aqua blue that pops when in the snowy foreground. Rest if you need to, because the not-for-the-faint-of-heart fun really begins after Frozen Lake.
Steep Cliffs en Route to the Fremont Fire Lookout
The only time you’re walking away from Mount Rainier during the hike on Mount Fremont Lookout Trail is when you’re trudging on the steep, rocky cliffs that lead to the Mount Rainier Fire Lookout. The path is fairly narrow and is not for the faint of heart.
Although you’re safe to walk through these loose rocks on the edge of an extremely steep rocky cliff, you may not want to look down. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with this section as I’m not very afraid of heights.
But, if heights get you, the path is wide enough that you can stay toward the inclining portion of the trail instead of on the edge of the declining portion.
Mount Fremont Fire Lookout
The Fremont Point Cabin is an old wooden two-story watchmen post built in 1934, serving as a lookout point for forest fires in Mount Rainier National Park for years. You can climb up the steps and walk around the balcony of the lookout, but, unfortunately, you can’t go inside the old living quarters.
With glass windows surrounding it, you can get a glimpse of the tools and utensils used by watchmen as they lived there for months at a time.
Mount Fremont Fire Lookout at the peak of the trail provides a unique perspective that you won’t see in any other parts of the park and a 360-degree view of snowy Mount Rainier, a 1930s Fire Lookout and green valley pastures.
We sat here for a few hours eating sandwiches, drinking a few beers, exploring the fire lookout and indulging in pleasant conversation while taking in the breathtaking views. It’s a pure paradise among the different landscapes offered by the mighty Cascade Mountain Range, and you certainly don’t want to miss it!
As the clouds began to creep in, as they do in Mount Rainier National Park around noon each day, we made our way back down the narrow path of steep rocky shoals, passed Frozen Lake, hiked through the portion of Sourdough Ridge Trail and back to the Sunrise Visitor Center — quickly reminiscing about the spectacular views of Mount Rainier and the old Mount Fremont Fire Lookout, which was perfectly designed as a point to see for miles and miles and remains one of the best views in the park.