Documenting my Rainier obsession
about Mount Rainier where to start
about this site future plans
itinerary planner permits

Brown Peak

Difficulty: moderate but unofficial

9.5 miles

Elevation gain: 2590'

Max elevation: 6500'

Camps: Dick's Lake, Upper Palisades

First hiked by me: 2023

This is an off-trail route. Only come here if your navigation is up to the task of finding your way where there are no trails to follow, and practice Leave No Trace to avoid damaging fragile terrain.

Follow the Palisades Lakes trail for 3.4 miles, then turn east just before arriving at Upper Palisades Lake. Climb steeply up what starts as a clearly defined although unofficial social trail, figure out how to proceed as one path fragments into many, turn north upon reaching the summit of Brown Peak, and enjoy a mile of ridge hike splendor. This offers views of Bear Park to your right, Lower Palisades Lake and the Lost Creek drainage to your left, over the Palisades to Tahoma on your rear left flank, and the Cowlitz Chimneys behind you. The ridge descends slightly, then climbs to a second unnamed summit. It is narrow in places, but never scary even to me who is scared of such things. The 'path' becomes ever more fragmentary and at times even hypothetical as you approach the second summit.

It is possible to continue past here, to South Slide Mountain and beyond that to Slide Mountain, but the route becomes scramblier and more exposed so I decided this was enough for me.

Elk regularly inhabit the saddle in between Brown Peak and the second unnamed peak. I saw none the day I visited, but there was an incredible amount of their poop, plus bare patches of ground where they sleep. I also saw cougar poop, because where there are elk there will be kittycats.

If you already happen to be at Upper Palisades Lake, the unofficial portion of this hike is 2.6 miles roundtrip with 610' elevation gain.

Turning off the Palisades Lake trail toward Brown Peak

Looking down over Lower Palisades Lake

What a glorious ridge hike this is

Looking backward down the ridge, with the Cowlitz Chimneys in the distance

Where did my path go? Must tread carefully to minimize damage to fragile plants...

Where I turned around: looking north at South Slide Mountain

View over the Palisades toward Tahoma