The United States Congress designated the Tatoosh Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 15,720 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Washington
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Tatoosh Wilderness is bordered by
the Mount Rainier Wilderness
to the north.
One of five Wilderness areas near Mount Rainier National Park, the Tatoosh Wilderness Area shares a portion of the park's southern boundary. Tatoosh Ridge, a long, formidably rugged ridge, runs north-south out of the park to cross the Wilderness near the middle. On the eastern side of the area, you will find the southern end of another rocky spine, Backbone Ridge, which also hails from the park. 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, then wander into the higher country in warmer seasons. Black bears may be seen foraging in the forest of hemlock, fir, and red cedar, and mountain goats scramble along the upper elevations, which top out at the 6,310-foot Tatoosh Lookout. About 25 feet of snow falls on Tatoosh Ridge during the winter, dusting a half-dozen small lakes (including three that thoroughly satisfy the meaning of "tiny"). The 8.6-mile Tatoosh Trail climbs wickedly steep up Tatoosh Ridge but then mellows out substantially for a long descent off the ridge top and down through subalpine meadows abounding with summer wildflowers. The view of Mount Rainier to the north is breathtaking. Side trails will take you to Tatoosh Lakes and the historic Tatoosh Lookout. Camping, fires, and stock are not allowed beside the fragile wilderness lakes within the Tatoosh Lakes Basin.