Wild Logo v4

15 Most Gorgeous and Accessible Lakes near Mt Rainier

The choice of lakes around Mt Rainier is incredible. Small lakes at the base of this volcano provide jaw-dropping views, while large lakes in the area offer campgrounds, fishing, and paddling opportunities.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Mt Rainier

With over 2 million annual visitors and a short season, Mt Rainier National Park is a crowded destination during the summer months. 

Some of the busiest spots are Reflection Lakes and Tipsoo Lake, which are easily accessed by car and offer jaw-dropping views of Mt Rainier.

But many lakes in the park and its vicinity enjoy less footfall. Some options require a short hike, but most are accessible by road and offer boat launches, campgrounds, and excellent fishing.

Learn more about the area and check out the lake options!

Lakes near Mt Rainier:

  1. Reflection Lakes
  2. Bench and Snow Lakes
  3. Mowich Lake
  4. Tipsoo Lake
  5. Dewey Lake
  6. Packwood Lake
  7. Leech Lake
  8. Dog Lake
  9. Clear Lake
  10. Rimrock Lake
  11. Bumping Lake
  12. Mineral Lake
  13. Alder Lake
  14. Riffe Lake
  15. Mayfield Lake

Distances are provided ‘as a crow flies’ from Myrtle Falls for reference.

Lakes near Mt Rainier National Park Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Reflection Lakes

Reflection Lakes Mt Rainier
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Reflection Lakes
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 1.5 miles
  • Activities: Hiking, Photography, Wildlife Watching

Located a short distance south of the popular Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park, Reflection Lakes is a popular summertime destination along Stevens Canyon Road with abundant wildflowers. 

This destination, 75 miles southeast of Tacoma and 85 miles west of Yakima, attracts crowds during the summertime when vehicle access is possible, offering an ideal location for photographers who like to capture images of Mount Rainier and large evergreens behind the lake. 

The Wonderland Trail provides convenient access from the often-filled parking area to Reflection Lakes. Visits are popular to this spot at sunrise and sunset, with wildflowers appearing as snow melts and impressive fall colors before snowfall resumes. 

The Lakes Trail offers a loop of nearly three miles that allows hikers to enjoy views of nearby bodies of water, such as Louise Lake. 

The Pinnacle Peak Trail takes a different direction, providing a 1,050-foot climb to Pinnacle Peak that crosses subalpine meadows in a 2.5-mile roundtrip. 

Similar to some lakes within the boundaries of the national park, swimming and fishing are prohibited at Reflection Lakes. Hikers should stay on trails to protect the delicate environment.

2. Bench and Snow Lakes

bench lake Mt Rainier
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Bench and Snow Lakes
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 2 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Photography, Wildlife Watching

A short 1.5-mile drive west of Reflection Lakes, Bench and Snow Lakes are accessible on a 2.5-mile roundtrip trail. 

With an elevation gain of approximately 700 feet, this trail offers excellent views of Bench Lake and the surrounding flat area that was given the nickname “The Bench.” 

Continuing along the trail toward a forested area near Unicorn Creek, the trail reaches a glacially eroded valley where Snow Lake maintains rings of snow along its shoreline well into the summer. 

This smaller Snow Lake is a different one than the identically-named lake in King County near Snoqualmie Pass.

Bench and Snow Lakes have a cool, almost winter-like feel, well into the summer months. Wildflowers proliferate on warmer summer days, with huckleberries, blueberries, and mountain ash taking center stage during the fall.

3. Mowich Lake

Mowich Lake in Mt Rainier National Park
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Mowich Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 10 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping, Photography, Wildlife Watching

Mowich Lake is the deepest and largest lake at Mount Rainier, sitting in its rarely-visited northeastern area. 

Only 7.5 miles northwest of the summit, this 122-acre lake at 4,929 feet above sea level reaches a depth of 190 feet. 

A 45-mile drive from downtown Tacoma, access is provided by Washington State Route 165, with most of the roadway within the park unpaved and open to vehicles only from July until October.

A short walk beyond the parking area by this gin-clear glacial lake, the small Mowich Lake Campground offers serene and rustic accommodations, along with bears and other wildlife that call this area home throughout the year. 

The 93-mile-long Wonderland Trail that encircles the national park reaches this parking area. A 6.5-mile roundtrip hike along the Tolmie Peak Trail also offers access to Eunice Lake.

Although the snowmelt water is too chilly for swimming, Mowich Lake offers an area within the park’s boundaries where lake fishing for rainbow and eastern brook trout is permitted, including from hand-carried, non-motorized boats.

4. Tipsoo Lake

Tipsoo Lake Mt Rainier
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Tipsoo Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 11 miles
  • Activities: Hiking, Photography, Wildlife Watching

Tipsoo Lake is located along Washington State Route 410 between Cayuse Pass and Chinook Pass near Yakima Peak. 

70 miles from Tacoma and 65 miles from Yakima, this glacial-basin lake along the eastern edge of the national park is a popular stopping place, easily accessible along the Naches Peak Loop Trail.

The subalpine meadows surrounding Tipsoo Lake explode with color when wildflowers bloom. Snowfall may keep the road from opening well into June, and snow covers the area by late fall. 

The nearby Pacific Crest Trail crosses Chinook Pass. Fishing and swimming are not permitted in Tipsoo Lake. 

5. Dewey Lake

Dewey Lake Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Dewey Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 12 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, Photography, Wildlife Watching

Located in the Wenatchee National Forest less than a mile east of the park boundary, Dewey Lake is a 70-mile drive from both Tacoma and Yakima when roads are open during the summer. 

This 50-acre lake sits at 5,116 feet in elevation, with a section of the Pacific Crest Trail passing its shoreline, a great location for bank fishing. 

Hikes around this lake may offer beautiful views of ripe berries and colorful wildflowers. During certain parts of the brief season, there are also muddy paths, dangerous chute crossings, and lots of bugs. 

Even during these wet times, anglers casting a line will enjoy fishing for eastern brook and rainbow trout. 

6. Packwood Lake

Packwood Lake Mt Rainier
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Packwood Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 16 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, Photography, Wildlife Watching

Located south of the national park, Packwood Lake is popular with spring and summer hikers. The trails leading to this 452-acre lake experience earlier season snowmelt than lakes at higher elevations. 

Accessible from a Forest Service road and trails that cross Lost Creek, this impounded body of water has a number of creeks that feed it around the forests that also offer occasional, impressive views of Mount Rainier. 

Located 90 miles from Tacoma and 75 miles from Yakima, this destination within Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a great place to cast a line for rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout.

7. Leech Lake

Leech Lake in Washington State
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Leech Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 20 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Leech Lake is a small 42-acre lake on Route 12, opposite the White Pass ski area. It’s a charming spot that can be easily accessed by car.

Gas motors are prohibited at this lake, making it an ideal location for kayaking and paddleboarding. Also, it’s a fly-fishing lake with certain restrictions. For example, live bait and barbed hooks are not allowed here.

WDFW plants rainbow trout once a year, and because of the little pressure, there is definitely fish to catch. Those anglers who come here to practice their fly-fishing skills rarely return empty-handed.

In addition to fishing and paddling, the lake is open for swimming and has a wide choice of trails. Leech Lake is where a local section of PCT starts, so keen hikers can get a taste of this notorious route.

8. Dog Lake

Ice Fishing on a lake in winter
Source: pexels
  • Website: Dog Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 20 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping, Ice Fishing

Although just 60 acres in size, Dog Lake has a lot going for it. Set against the magnificent Spiral Butte, it packs a lot of recreation for its size.

Access to this lake is easy. It sits right on Route 12, and even in winter, you can safely reach it by car. 

In addition to incredible views, Dog Lakes offers swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Its modest size is unintimidating for beginners and free from strong winds or fast boaters.

Fishing here is excellent. WDFW plants thousands of rainbow trout yearly, but brook trout is still the most common catch. Plus, since the lake is easily-accessible even in winter, it makes for a wonderful ice-fishing spot.

Right across the road, visitors will find one of the most popular stops on Route 12 – the magnificent Clear Creek Falls. It’s a must-visit natural attraction that doesn’t take much time. To see it at full flow, try visiting in late spring or early summer. 

Also, Dog Lake offers a small cozy campground run by the national forest service. It is an excellent base for exploring and hiking the area’s various trails.

9. Clear Lake

Clear Lake on Tieton River near Yakima Washington
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Clear Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 24 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Clear Lake is a 232-acre reservoir neighboring Rimrock Lake and just a few miles from White Pass. It’s another idyllic mountain lake with gorgeous scenery and excellent fishing.

Unlike Rimrock Lake (below), Clear Lake isn’t as hectic. It doesn’t have resorts, and boaters tend to stick to a much larger neighbor, although there is a public boat ramp here, too.

Swimming is excellent at this reservoir, and it’s a fantastic spot for kayakers and paddleboarders who tend to explore the shoreline and visit Strawberry Island in the center of the lake.

There are many campgrounds scattered around this lake. Some are designated national forest camps, but most are dispersed camping spots that are free to use. 

Another difference from Rimrock Reservoir is that Clear Lake is stocked with rainbow trout. Anglers love this lake, and it frequently gets high marks. 

However, the pressure is immense, and less-experienced anglers may struggle to find action.

10. Rimrock Lake

Rimrock Lake in Washington
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Rimrock Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 26 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Camping

Rimrock Lake is a 2,546-acre reservoir on the Tieton River, not far from White Pass. It’s a superb recreational lake with incredible views and plenty of activities.

The reservoir is easily accessible from Route 12, and because it sits within a national forest, it’s an excellent spot for camping. Several resorts on its shores provide developed campgrounds with RV and tent sites. Plus, there are dozens of free dispersed camping spots.

Regarding water activities, Rimrock Lake is as diverse as it gets. From swimming and kayaking to jet skiing and wakeboarding, most sports are allowed. Several public and private boat ramps are available, too.

However, the lake’s biggest drawback is fluctuating water levels. Towards the end of summer, it can be too low for fast boating or even launching.

Rimrock Lake is a good fishery known for kokanee, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and sockeye. And although it doesn’t get stocked by WDFW, skilled anglers get good results here.

11. Bumping Lake

Bumping Lake in Washington
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Bumping Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 19 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling

Bumping Lake sits approximately five miles east of the national park boundary by Chinook Pass as the eagle flies and 32 miles by vehicle. 

A drive of 100 miles from Tacoma and 60 miles from Yakima, this 1,353-acre lake sits in the Wenatchee National Forest. 

It is a natural body of water that the Bumping River flows through. Yet, it was expanded after the construction of the Bumping Lake Dam in 1910. 

In addition to serving as a natural extension of the Bumping River, this reservoir collects water from Boulder, Cedar, Deep, and Granite Creeks.

The Forest Service maintains the Bumping Lake Campground, as well as the Cougar Flat and Soda Springs camping sites along the Bumping River, downriver from the impoundment. 

Conifer stands are prominent in this area of the forest. 

Anglers who congregate at Bumping Lake or along nearby sections of the Bumping River will find cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout, as well as kokanee salmon. State conservation workers occasionally restock the trout.

12. Mineral Lake

mineral lake washington
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Mineral Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 21 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Mineral Lake is located west of the park’s Nisqually Entrance near the unincorporated hamlet of Mineral. 

A 45-mile drive south-southeast of Tacoma and a little more than 105 miles from Yakima, this 275-acre lake provides a clear, scenic view of Mount Rainier on clear days. 

The area surrounding the lake offers a bountiful preserve for wildlife, especially in the areas near Mineral Creek – a brook that flows close to the lake and the Nisqually River.

In addition to three convenient boat launches, Mineral Lake provides excellent shoreline access for anglers. The best public access to this body of water sits along the lake’s southwestern shore. 

Those who fish here will enjoy casting a line for largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

13. Alder Lake

Alder Lake is a lake in Washtington State near Rainier National Park
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Alder Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 24 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Located a couple of miles northwest of Mineral Lake, seven-mile-long Alder Lake is an impounded section of the Nisqually River. The eastern area of this 3,065-acre reservoir begins at the Town of Elbe. 

The concrete arch Alder Dam was built by Tacoma Power in the mid-1940s to provide hydroelectric power to that city, located 40 miles to the north.

In the early 20th century, alder trees near the meandering river gave a small settlement in the hills its name. The community of Alder had about 200 residents in the early 1940s when officials secured riverfront land and evacuated the now-submerged community

Alder Lake Park offers opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and water skiing. The park’s Rocky Point Campground is a popular overnight spot. 

Sunny Beach Point offers a welcoming nine-acre recreation site open seasonally between mid-May and mid-September. Two year-round boat launches provide lake access. 

Motorized watercraft may use the lake, though no-wake zones are also available for those who wish to enjoy peaceful visits to the lake. 

In addition to stocked kokanee, this reservoir serves as the home for yellow perch, black and white crappie, catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and coastal cutthroat.

14. Riffe Lake

riffe lake washington
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Riffe Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 33 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Historically known as Mossyrock Lake, Riffe Lake is one of the impoundments along the Cowlitz River located between Mount Rainier National Park to the northeast and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to the south. 

This lake took shape in 1968 with the construction of Mossyrock Dam to provide hydroelectric power for Tacoma Power, a company based nearly 70 miles away.

Similar to the flooding of the former settlement of Alder, the former settlements of Riffe, Nesika, and Kosmos along the river were abandoned prior to the dam’s construction and became submerged as Riffe Lake expanded to over 11,300 acres. 

The submerged settlement of Riffe gave the lake its current name in 1976. 

The lake spans 13 miles, with Taidnapam Park on the eastern part of Riffe Lake, where it expands in size. This park offers both day-use access with a convenient boat launch and year-round camping along the scenic lake. 

Riffe Lake is one of multiple Cowlitz River impoundments, including the 399-acre Lake Scanewa immediately to the east at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Cispus Rivers. 

Within Riffe Lake, fishing for crappie, bullhead, bluegill, smallmouth bass, cutthroat and brown trout, and chinook and coho salmon is a popular pastime throughout the year. 

15. Mayfield Lake

  • Website: Mayfield Lake
  • Distance from Mt Rainier: 40 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Mayfield Lake is a 2,021-acre reservoir created after Mayfield Dam began service in 1963. Located 70 miles south of Tacoma, 120 miles west of Yakima, and 90 miles north of Portland, this centrally located lake is a popular gathering place for Pacific Northwest anglers. 

Two notable recreation areas bring visitors to Mayfield Lake. Mayfield Lake Park, on the southern shore, offers year-round day-use amenities and camping between mid-April and mid-October. 

Ike Kinswa State Park sits along the lake’s northern shore. Established in 1963, this state park occupies prime real estate where the Tilton River merges with the Cowlitz. 

Originally known as Mayfield Lake State Park, this popular fishing, camping, and day-use destination was renamed in 1971 to honor a well-respected Cowlitz Indian named Ike Kinswa, who lived in this area. 

Excellent shoreline and lake access and more moderate temperatures during cooler months bring anglers here throughout the year. 

Tiger muskellunge is a top attraction, with coho and chinook salmon also in high demand. Other fish found here include brown bullhead, trout, largemouth bass, and yellow perch. 

More Lakes in Washington:

Trails in Washington:

You Might Also Like: