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.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Tatoosh Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984 - Public law 98-339 (7/3/1984) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the State of Washington for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, and for other purposes.