Some of the most stunning views of Mount Rainier aren’t found in the national park that bears its name, but in the surrounding national forest. The Noble Knob Trail, which can be accessed from two different trailheads, provides 360-degree views of the Cascade Mountains and on a clear day, some of the Olympic range, too.
In the late spring and early summer the fields and ridge lines are covered in blankets of colorful wildflowers which give way to reds, yellows, and golds in the fall. Since this trail is not in a national park, your leashed dog is welcome to join you on the hike.
The trail to Noble Knob, which is the site of a former fire lookout tower, provides an amazing view with only about 500 feet of elevation gain. This makes the trail accessible to those who may have shied away from other lookout tower hikes on much steeper and more difficult trails.
There are two ways to get to this trail. The more popular route begins at Corral Pass and has a more improved and easier-to-find trailhead, but the rocky dirt road requires a high-clearance vehicle and is prone to washouts and closures. The Twentyeight Mile Road route is less rugged and has several paved sections, but the trailhead is more difficult to find and there are no facilities.
The trail starting from Twentyeight Mile Road begins in a dark bit of forest, but soon opens up into a clearing and runs across Dalles Ridge, which provides stunning views that become more impressive the farther you go. Stay to the right to bypass the junction with the Ranger Creek Trail and then begin a steady climb. At approximately the two mile mark, you’ll find the Noble Knob Trail. Take the middle fork at the junction where three trails converge. This path leads right up to the summit.
The trail starting from Corral Pass meanders through meadows and then splits off to the left. The first mile is relatively flat and easy. Just before you reach the two mile mark you’ll come to the junction with the Deep Creek Trail. Stay to the right where it enters the Norse Peak Wilderness. When you come to the Dalles Ridge Trail at approximately the three mile mark, stay to the right on the Noble Knob Trail. When you get to the junction of three trails, stay on the middle path up to the summit.
The panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier from this noblest of knobs provide an awe-inspiring perspective that isn’t found anywhere else, and which won’t soon be forgotten.
How to get there:
Via Twentyeight Mile Road 72: Drive east on State Highway 410 from Enumclaw 20.3 miles to the Greenwater Road 70. Turn left (north) onto Road 70 and follow it 4.6 miles to Road 72. Turn right (south) onto Road 72 and follow for 4.1 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road. There is room for parking on the right road shoulder for four vehicles.
Via Corral Pass Trailhead: Drive east on State Highway 410 from Enumclaw 31.6 miles to Corral Pass Road 7174. Turn left (east) on Road 7174 and follow it 6.7 miles. The trailhead is on the left side of the road just before the large developed parking area. A small parking area at the trailhead can hold up to six vehicles.
Good to know:
A Northwest Forest Pass or federal interagency pass is required to park at the Corral Pass Trailhead.
The trial is accessible July through October.
Dogs must be leashed.
Map: Green Trails Lester No. 239
Mileage: 5 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 500 feet
Highest Point: 6011 feet
USFS Trail and road information: www.fs.usda.gov