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10 Best Mountains to Climb in Washington

Some of the best mountains to climb in Washington require incredible technical prowess, while others are more attainable for hikers and beginning mountaineers.


No matter your experience level, hikers from around the Pacific Northwest look at Washington's mountains and dream about what it would be like to stand on their summits. From Mount Rainier to Eldorado Peak, the incredible mountains on this list make for unforgettable mountaineering and scrambling adventures that you're not soon to forget.


So, let's dig into Traverse the Pacific Northwest's list of the 10 Best Mountains to Climb in Washington, starting with the biggie--Mount Rainier.



Map of the Best Mountains in Washington

Take a look at our map of the 10 Best Mountains to Climb in Washington!




Mount Rainier (Tahoma)

Location: Pierce and Lewis Counties

Height: 14,417'

Summit Trail: Disappointment Cleaver

Technical? Yes, glaciers, crevasses, steep snow and ice, overnight camping at elevation.

Mount Rainier from the summit of Pinnacle Peak in the Tatoosh Wilderness
Mount Rainier from the summit of Pinnacle Peak in the Tatoosh Wilderness

Rising to an incredible 14,417 ft, Rainier can be seen throughout the Pacific Northwest and is on the "to-do" list of mountaineers worldwide. It certainly deserves a spot on our list of the 10 best mountains to climb in Washington.


Also known as Tacoma and Tacobet, Rainier is a stratovolcano located in Mount Rainier National Park, around 59 miles from Seattle. The mountain also boasts 26 major glaciers and two volcanic craters, the most in the state.


Today the mountain is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world but intrepid adventures from around the world come to climb this Washington classic. They'll encounter crevasses, significant elevation gain, and unbeatably expansive views.


Did you know? Mount Rainier also features on Traverse the Pacific Northwest's 10 of the Best Mountains to Climb in the Pacific Northwest.


Sahale Peak

Location: North Cascades National Park

Height: 8,681'

Summit Trail:

Technical? Yes, 3rd-4th class scrambling, glacier crossings, steep snow.

View from the Sahale Arm headed towards the summit
View from the Sahale Arm headed towards the summit

Not nearly as well-known as Mount Rainier is the stunning Sahale Peak. Despite its much shorter elevation and its very isolated location (you're probably never going to see it from the road), it's still one of the most popular mountains in the North Cascades, particularly among those who are just getting their mountaineering feet wet.


Sahale Peak is in North Cascades National Park. It sits at an elevation of 8,681,' making it one of the 100 tallest mountains in Washington State. The first ascent was in August of 1897, and today, the mountain sees nearly daily ascents during the summer and fall.


Part of its allure is its location, right next to the equally impressive Boston Peak, Buckner Mountain, and not far from Eldorado Peak, Mount Shuksan, and Forbidden Peak (all North Cascades classics). While many mountaineers come to Sahale for the views, the incredible scramble up to its summit block has also inspired Washington climbers for years. It is certainly one of the best mountaineering climbs in Washington.


Mountains of the World

Mount St. Helens (Loowit)

Location: Skamania County

Height: 8,363'

Summit Trail: Mount St. Helens Summit via Ptarmigan Trail

Technical? No, not technical in summer.

An artist photo of Mount St. Helens' exposed crater
An artist photo of Mount St. Helens' exposed crater

The unforgettable Mount St. Helens is high on our list of the best mountains to climb in Washington. This striking Washington peak is permanently marked in the history books after erupting on May 18th, 1980. The terrifying and mesmerizing event killed fifty-seven people and destroyed around 200 homes. Debris from the eruption can still be seen around the mountain's barren slopes.



Successful summits of Mount St. Helens are common year-round. It's a fantastic choice (in summer!) for someone who wants to tick a tall Washington mountain off their list but doesn't yet have the experience to contend with glaciers and especially steep snow. Winter is a very different beast, though. You can expect precarious snow and ice. Whiteouts are also common on the mountain. But, that being said, it's also one of the most popular and easiest mountains to climb and ski in Washington.


Two different widely popular trails ascend to the crater's rim and the mountain's summit. The most common begins at the Climber's Bivouac and then meets with the Ptarmigan Trail over 4,583 feet of gain in 4.1 miles. This trail makes Mount St. Helens a great non-technical mountain climb in Washington.



Mount Shuksan

Location: Whatcom County, North Cascades National Park

Height: 9,131'

Summit Trail: Sulphide Glacier

Technical? Yes, glacier gear, helmets, and rock climbing gear (optional)

Looking toward Mount Shuksan's 800-foot summit block
Looking toward Mount Shuksan's 800-foot summit block

The gorgeous, sometimes overlooked Mount Shuksan sits in Mount Baker's shadow but presents unique challenges all its own. Rising to the height of 9,131,' it proudly stands as one of the tallest mountains in Washington state.



You're likely to find yourself among other eager climbers on any beautiful day of the summer if you're attempting an ascent of Mount Shuksan. Most choose to split the climb over two days, but one-day ascents are common and feasible for those with the endurance for it.


The climb takes you through the woods to a stunning panorama of the North Cascades, across the Sulphide glacier, and finally scrambling up an 800-foot summit block in 3rd class terrain that some parties may choose to protect and/or rappel.




Mount Adams (Pahto)

Location: Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

Height: 12,281'

Popular Summit Trail: Lunch Counter Approach (South Climb)

Technical? Yes, glaciers, steep snow and ice

Mount Adams is a great option for mountaineers looking to test their love for walking up hill
Mount Adams is a great option for mountaineers looking to test their love for walking up hill

No list of the best mountains to climb in Washington would be complete without Mount Adams, one of the state's giants and visible throughout much of Washington and Oregon. You can see it from many of the mountains that Traverse the Pacific Northwest named the 9 Best Mountains to Climb in Oregon.


It also features on this list as one of the least technical mountain climbs in the state. That being said, no one should come to Adams thinking it's going to be a walk in the park. Crampons, an ice ax, and a helmet are necessary throughout the year.



Mount Adams is the second-tallest mountain in Washington. It's around 37 miles from Mount St. Helens and 50 miles south of Rainier. Mountaineers ascend steep, although not overly so, slopes for many miles before reaching a false summit. The final summit sits at an elevation of 12,2181'. It's commonly described as a "slog" that few want to repeat but that no one fails to be impressed by.



Location: The Enchantments/Stuart Range

Height: 8,440'

Summit Trail: Little Annapurna via Stuart Lake

Technical? Somewhat. There may be steep snow and rocks to scramble on.


View on the hike to Little Annapurna
View on the hike to Little Annapurna

The Little Annapurna trail is a 16-mile roundtrip, an out-and-back hike that challenges hikers with its long approach, incredibly steep climb up Asgard Pass, and sometimes problematic snow conditions. But, its relatively easy approach and popularity mean that it's not nearly as large of an undertaking as some other mountains in Washington.



This hike should really only be attempted by those with experience on long (very long) day hikes or overnight backpacking trips who also have experience scrambling and on snow. The Enchantments is not, despite its popularity, somewhere you really want to get stuck!


It's a gorgeous setting right in the middle of the most beautiful part of the Enchantments core. Nearby, you'll see Dragontail Peak, McClellan Peak, Prusik Peak, Colchuck Peak, and much more. On the way in and out, you're also likely to see more than one mountain goat and more than one thru-hiker.




Mount Washington

Height: 6,260'

Summit Trail: Mount Washington Trail

Technical? No, but there is a scramble at the top that's graded class 3 or 4.

Looking towards Mount Pershing from Mount Washington
Looking towards Mount Pershing from Mount Washington

Mount Washington is one of the most popular mountains for hikers and mountaineers in Olympic National Park. It's only second, perhaps, to Mount Elinor next door. Both sit on the southern end of the national park and are easily accessed from Lilliwaup.



This area of the park is about an hour for Olympia, three hours from Portland, and two hours from Seattle, making it popular with climbers from around the Pacific Northwest.


Although it's far shorter than other peaks on this list, the Mount Washington trail is not to be scoffed at. It's 4.1 miles out and back and gains a significant amount of elevation from beginning to end, around 3,000 feet. The views from the top are some of the best in the park, allowing you to pick out Mount Elinor, Mount Pershing, Mount Stone, Mount Skokomish, and even the mythical Mount Olympus in the distance.




Mount Baker (Koma Kulshan)

Location: Whatcom County, Washington

Height: 10,786 ft

Popular Summit Trail: Coleman/Deming Glacier or Heliotrope Ridge

Technical? Yes, but not as much as other peaks on this list. Crampons, an ice ax, helmet, crevasse rescue gear, ropes, and more are required.

The incredible Mount Baker rising from much greener forests
The incredible Mount Baker rising from much greener forests

Also known as "P-kowitz," meaning "White Mountain," Mount Baker is one of the crown jewels of the North Cascade Mountain Range. It is an active stratovolcano located around 30 miles from Bellingham. It is heavily covered in glaciers, second only to Mount Rainier.


Mount Baker is hard to miss no matter where you are in the state. If you find yourself on any of the other peaks on this list, you're likely going to see Baker towering off in the distance next to Mount Shuksan. It is the third-highest mountain in Washington and the fifth-highest in the Cascade Range.



The Coleman route up Mount Baker is a popular, straightforward glacier climb that ascends more than 8,000 feet over 5.5 miles. Many parties choose to split the ascent over two or more days, but one-day ascents are very common. If you're looking for your first technical mountain climb in Washington, Baker is a surprisingly great place to start.



Location: North Cascades National Park

Height: 8,970'

Technical? Yes, there is a class 3/4 scramble at the top, very loose scree on the approach and descent. There may be steep snow early in the season.

View from the summit of Black Peak
View from the summit of Black Peak

You may not have heard of it yet, but after you finish your hike, climb, and scramble of Black Peak, you won't be able to forget it. It's a North Cascades adventure that's slightly tamer than anything in the Pickets or any of the mountains accessed from Boston Basin.



The hike in is fairly straightforward, taking you to Heather Pass with little difficulty. After dropping into the basin, head around Lewis and Wing Lakes and up a steep, annoying scree slope. When you gain the ridge, prepare for a shock as all of the North Cascades will be laid out in front of you. On a clear day, be prepared to see Sahale, Buckner, the Pickets, Baker and Shuksan, Glacier Peak, Mount Goode and Mount Logan, and much more.

From there, you have to contend with a sometimes loose and tricky scramble to the top. This is in terrain unsuitable for most hikers and should only be attempted by those with experience.



Eldorado Peak

Location: North Cascades National Park

Height: 8,868'

Popular Summit Trail: Eldorado Peak summit trail

Technical? Yes, climbing experience and equipment are required.

Looking toward Eldorado from the Sahale Arm
Looking toward Eldorado from the Sahale Arm

Wrapping up our list of the best mountains to climb in Washington is Eldorado Peak. As its name suggests, it's often high on the list of ideal climbing destinations but presents a real challenge due to its incredibly steep and difficult approach and isolated location.



After rising above the trees, climbers are treated to what many have described as the best views in the North Cascades (surpassed only by Luna Peak, perhaps?) The climb leads along glaciers and up onto a summit ridge.


Right when you think you've tackled everything the mountain can throw at you, Eldorado presents its famous knifes edge ridge. Often no wider than three feet, the ridge only allows for one person at a time to traverse to the true summit and back. Fred Becky famously called this peak the "Queen of the Cascade River," and it certainly lives up to its name.


Have you climbed any of these mountains in Washington? Tell us about your experience in the comments!



FAQs

What is the big mountain in the state of Washington?

The big mountain in the state of Washington is Mount Rainier. It is the largest mountain in the state, rising to over 14,000'. Climbers from around the world come to Washington every year to test themselves on one of Rainier's classic routes.


What is the scariest hike in America?

While technically not a simple trail, the deadliest hike in America is any trail to the top of Mount Rainier. In total, the mountain has claimed over 400 lives.


What is the prettiest place in Washington State?

North Cascades National Park is the prettiest place in Washington State. Its remoteness means that few hikers truly venture deep into the park to enjoy what are truly the most incredible views in the country. You'll feel as though you've been transported to the Alps.


What are Washington's 5 northwest mountains?

The five main mountains in Washington state are Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Mount St. Helens, and Glacier Peak.


What are the two most important mountain ranges in Washington?

The two most important mountain ranges in Washington are the Olympics near the coast and the Cascades. Specifically, the North Cascades in the north-central part of the state.




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