Some of the most stunning views of Mount Rainier aren’t found in the national park that bears its name. 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, the Olympics.
Since this trail is not in a national park, leashed dogs are welcome to join you on the hike, where they can stop and smell the wildflowers in summer and early autumn, too.
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, beginning at Corral Pass, 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 2-mile mark, you’ll find 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 2-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 Dalles Ridge Trail, at approximately the 3-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.
Good to know:
A Northwest Forest Pass or federal interagency pass is required to park at the Corral Pass Trailhead. The trail 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: 6,011
USFS Trail and road information: fs.usda.gov