The 15,720 acre Tatoosh Wilderness shares a portion of Mount Rainier National Park's southern boundary. The long rugged Tatoosh Ridge runs north-south out of the park to cross the Wilderness near the middle. The top of Tatoosh Ridge (6,310 feet) provides views in all directions and is the former site of a fire lookout built in 1932. About 25 feet of snow falls on the ridge during the winter, dusting a half-dozen small lakes.
Numerous streams cascade off the ridges into the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River or into Butter Creek, both of which funnel down to the Cowlitz River south of the Wilderness. Deer and elk winter along the Muddy Fork, and migrate into higher country in warmer seasons. Black bears may be seen foraging in the forest of hemlock, fir, and red cedar, and mountain goats live in the upper elevations.
The Tatoosh Range was used historically by Taidnapam (Upper Cowlitz) Indians. In mid-to-late August, Taidnapam families would climb up the ridge from fishing camps at the confluence of the Muddy Fork and Clear Fork Cowlitz Rivers, to hunt, gather materials for making baskets, and pick huckleberries for drying. The dried berries were transported to home villages for eating during the winter months. Archaeological evidence suggests that these high country treks were a long tradition among the local Indian people.
- Key access points: Trail and trailhead information
At a Glance
|Closest Towns:||Randle, WA|
|Information Center:||Cowlitz Valley Ranger District|
The 8.6-mile Tatoosh Trail climbs steeply up Tatoosh Ridge but then flattens out substantially for a long descent off the ridge top and down through subalpine meadows that contain wildflowers in summer months. There is a view of Mount Rainier to the north. Side trails will take you to Tatoosh Lakes and the site of the historic Tatoosh Lookout. Note: Camping, fires, and stock are not allowed beside the fragile wilderness lakes within the Tatoosh Lakes Basin.
Trails/Trailheads that access Tatoosh Wilderness
- Trailhead: Tatoosh South - access to Trail #161 Tatoosh.
- Trailhead: Tatoosh North - access to Trail #161 Tatoosh.
Other Trails within Tatoosh Wilderness
Ohanapecoch Hot Springs, Tatoosh Lakes, Wahpenayo Peak. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.
Find maps online
Go to the maps page. Or pick up a map at any Gifford Pinchot National Forest Ranger District office.
Go to Wilderness.net for online maps and other important Wilderness information.