Hike to Mount Rainier’s Dege Peak For 360° Views

Mount Rainier and wildflowers at Sunrise

If you want a hike with 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, and the North Cascades, but with minimal effort, then consider hiking to Dege Peak. 

Dege Peak is one of the less crowded trails from the Sunrise Visitor Center at Mount Rainier.  Most of the people I saw were headed toward the Burroughs Mountain or Frozen Lake trails. Once I passed the turn-off for the Sourdough Ridge Nature Trail,  I only saw about 10 people on my way to and from Dege Peak.  On a clear day, you have wonderful views, and along the way, you might even be fortunate enough to spot mountain goats, marmots, elk, or even bears!

Getting Here: Which Mt Rainier Entrance to Use

Mount Rainier has four main entrance stations from which to enter this large National Park. For this hike, you’ll enter the east side of the park using the northeast White River Entrance Station. Get directions for all the entrances to Mount Rainier National Park here.

trail above Sunrise at Rainier
The trail to Dege Peak just after the "Y" as you climb above Sunrise Lodge.

Two Ways to Access the Dege Peak Trailhead

Sunrise Point

You can begin this hike from the Sunrise Point parking area or Sunrise Visitor Center. If you start from Sunrise Point, it is 1.0 mile shorter round-trip (3.0 vs. 4.0 miles) than starting from the Sunrise Lodge parking lot, but there are no restroom facilities, and you have around an 800 elevation gain vs. 600 from Sunrise.

Getting to the Trailhead:  Park at Sunrise Point parking lot.  From the west end of the parking lot, look for trail signs for the Sourdough Ridge Trail.  You’ll start your hike to Dege Peak here, and at about 1 mile in, you’ll come to the trail junction for Sunrise and Dege Peak. Make a right here. It’s just another .3 miles from the junction to Dege Peak summit.

Sunrise Lodge and Visitor Center

I prefer to start the hike to Dege Peak from the main Sunrise parking lot. There are restroom facilities here (there are none at Sunrise Point). Plus, with the Sunrise Lodge, there’s the ability to purchase a snack or drink before/after your hike.  You can also shop for souvenirs to remember your visit to Mount Rainier or buy gifts to take home. If this is your first visit to Mount Rainier, you’ll definitely want to spend some time at Sunrise exploring the meadow area and visiting the Sunrise Lodge and Visitor Center.

Getting to the Dege Peak Trailhead: Follow the broad path next to the bathrooms (you walk past the Sunrise Lodge, and you’ll see the path on your right). From there, you hike up the dirt path, and soon you come to a large sign with a map of the Sunrise area trails. Follow the trail on the right side of the signs as it climbs up, and soon you come to a “Y” in the trail. Go right (away from Mount Rainier) for Dege Peak.

Dege Peak Trail looking back at Rainier
Looking back and Mount Rainier and the "Y" in the trail coming from Sunset.

About Dege Peak Trail - Starting from Sunrise Lodge

Trail Length: ~ 4.0 miles (from Sunrise Lodge)

Elevation Gain: ~ 606 feet

Approximate Hiking Time: 2 hours (round trip)

Trail Difficulty Rating: Easy to Moderate
Overall I would rate this hike as easy. Even kids should be able to do this hike with minimal difficulty. However, I give it an easy to moderate rating given its exposure to the sun.  I hiked this on a hot summer day, and there is almost no shade for the entire hike.  In the summer, the heat combined with the elevation gain nudges this hike into the moderate range.

Features: 360-degree views, stunning views of Mount Rainier, wildflowers, wildlife, lake views, and multiple glacier views

Entrance Fee: There is a $30 single-vehicle entry fee good for 7-day consecutive use. 

Restrooms: There are restrooms just past the Sunrise Day Lodge and snacks and drinks at the Lodge. Potable Water just outside the Sunrise Lodge entrance.

How to Pronounce Dege

Dege Peak was named after James Henry Dege, a notable businessman from Tacoma, Washington. During my visit here, I heard a variety of pronunciations. The two most common pronunciations were “deh-gay” or “day-gay.” The Park Ranger at the Sunrise Lodge pronounced it like “day-gay,” so perhaps that’s the correct one.

Unique wildflowers
I love these unique looking wildflowers.

What to Bring on the Hike

  • Water (I only brought 16 ounces and wished I had 32, so bring plenty, especially on a hot day.)
  • Bug Spray (The bugs were pretty bad, so make sure to apply before you hike and possibly during too.)
  • Hiking Boots (I hiked in running shoes, but the rocky areas made this a little uncomfortable for my feet, plus hiking boots are good for ankle support.)
  • Trekking Poles (I didn’t use these, but they would be helpful in the rocky areas and last 200 yards or so to the summit.)
  • Sunscreen (This hike is really exposed to the sun.)
  • Sunglasses (Sunscreen for the eyes.)
  • Snacks (Or possibly a picnic lunch for the summit.)
  • Camera (You’ll definitely want a photo or two!)

Important to Know: Sunrise Parking lot is at 6,400 ft elevation and Dege Peak Summit is at 7,006. If you are not used to being at higher elevations you might get a little dizzy. Make sure to hydrate and snack during your hike to help avoid any elevation sickness symptoms.

Dege Peak and wildflowers
Dege Peak in the distance.

Hiking to Dege Peak

I drove up to Mount Rainier that morning and settled into my campsite at White River Campground before driving up to Sunrise.  It was a gorgeous day, with clear skies and warm weather.  Warmer than I expected!  By noon it was already 77 degrees at Sunrise!

I grabbed my camera and a bottle of water (later, I realized I should have brought two bottles), put on a bit of bug spray, and headed for the trailhead.  It was almost 1:00 p.m. when I started up the broad path just past the Sunrise Lodge.

I stopped at the “Y” trail intersection to take a few photos of Mount Rainier and the meadow.  As I began hiking up the trail toward Dege Peak, I was chased by a very persistent wasp.  This is not the first time I was chased by a wasp while hiking at Mount Rainier.  During my hike to Spray Falls, I also had to flee for my life for a long way down the trail. 

Perhaps “flee for my life” is overly dramatic, but it was a little traumatizing for me.  I won’t get into all my childhood run-ins with bees, but one only needs to watch My Girl once to realize these small creatures also come with a dark side.  I jest, but needless to say, although I love honeybees, I am less a fan of wasps. 

Multiple times along my hike to Dege Peak, I was chased by bees. One even began circling me over and over again.  When I returned home, I did a little research and discovered bees and wasps alike are attracted to bright colors. Red, in particular, is perceived as a threat. What color do you think my favorite hiking shirt is?  Yep! You guessed it– bright red! I guess I may need to find a new favorite hiking shirt after learning this new information. 

Sourdough Ridge Nature Trail

Onward and upward.  Soon, I reach the ridgeline and turn off for the Sourdough Ridge Nature Trail.  The nature trail goes to the left, and Dege Peak continues to the right. The Sourdough Ridge Nature Trail is a great option if you’re hiking with smaller kids and want a shorter hike that still offers beautiful views of Mount Rainier. The loop only takes about 1-hour to complete and is mostly flat.

A mountain goat.
A single mountain goat on the snow.

Wildlife Viewing Opportunities

Make sure to stop and look over the ridgeline along this section of the Dege Peak trail, as you’ll often spot wildlife below.  I saw a lonely mountain goat (pictured above) during my hike. (To my dismay I did not see any lonely goatherds.)

I talked to another couple who frequently hikes at Mount Rainier, and they told me how they once hiked to Dege Peak, and at the top, they looked over the edge and saw a bear splashing around in the lake below!  What an unforgettable memory!  They also mentioned seeing elk here as there is an elk path that leads down the backside of Dege Peak.  So make sure to bring a camera and stop to look for wildlife during your hike.

Fork in the trail for Sunrise Point
Fork in the trail for Sunrise Point

Sunset Point Trail Junction

I continued along the ridgeline with views of Dege Peak in front and Mount Rainier at my back. I didn’t worry too much about taking photos of Mount Rainier on the hike up, as I knew I’d be looking at it the whole way back down and have plenty of opportunities to photograph it then.

After the initial climb to the ridgeline, the trail flattens out for a long stretch before you dip down again and come to a fork in the trail.  This is the turnoff for the Sunrise Point parking area and where you’ll pop out should you start your hike there instead of at Sunrise. From here, it’s only 0.3 miles to the summit.

The trail narrows and gets rockier as it begins a steady climb back up.  Soon the trail curves sharply to the left for the final 200 yards or so to the summit.  At this curve, there are nice views of the Sunrise Point parking area and Sunrise Lake. 

Dege Peak Summit trail
The final climb to the summit of Dege Peak.

Dege Peak Summit

I begin the final rocky climb to the summit and stop at every tiny shade spot possible.  My water is now warm rather than cold, but I still appreciate having it!  I get to the top, and there is one group leaving as I arrive.  I have the entire summit to myself unless you count the 100’s of moths, flies, bees, and mosquitos who seem to think they own this place!  Sadly, the bugs were so bad during my visit that I didn’t hang around very long.  I took a few photos, admired the view in all directions, and headed back down the trail.  I didn’t pack any bug spray with me. Otherwise, I would have reapplied it at the summit.

Bugs aside, the views at the top of Dege Peak are fantastic!  You are at over 7,000 feet from here and with minimal effort!  The summit would make a great picnic spot on a day when the bugs aren’t as bad. 

The hike took me around 2 hours 10 minutes, and that’s with a lot of stops for photos and chats with other hikers.  I think most will complete it in around 2 hours, but with kids, you could plan for up to 3 hours and go at a leisurely pace.

Now to enjoy staring at Mount Rainier for the hike back to Sunrise.

Mt Rainier seen from Dege Peak
The view of Mount Rainier from Dege Peak.
Views from the Summit
More views from Dege Peak looking toward Sunset Point.

Final Thoughts About Hiking to Dege Peak

This trail typically has fewer hikers than the other trails in the area. The climb up is a gradual one, and during the summer, you have gorgeous wildflowers that line the path.  The trail is dusty, and as I mentioned, there is very little shade. Definitely remember to apply sunscreen and bug spray before heading out. 

For a slightly longer hike, start from Sunrise and follow the route outlined in this post, but on the return hike to Sunrise, take the Sourdough Nature trail to the right along the ridgeline. You’ll follow the ridgeline before you loop down and to the left to Sunrise again. This adds a little over a mile of mostly flat terrain and about 45-minutes more hiking time.

I bought a Klondike bar at the Sunrise Lodge.  The hot sun along the hike to Dege Peak and back left me wanting something cold to drink (filled up with potable water just outside the lodge) and a cold treat before heading back to camp.

If you stay at White River Campground, consider hiking to Emmons Moraine Glacier from the campground and planning to hike the Naches Peak Trail the following day. I love hiking the Naches Peak Loop Trail! It has beautiful lakes, mountain views, and wildflowers everywhere!

Do you have a favorite hike at Mount Rainier National Park?  I’d love to hear about it.  This place is like a second home to me, and I’m always interested in learning about new trails and hikes I haven’t discovered.


Happy Trails!

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2 Comments

  • Jake at Reply

    Wow this trip looks amazing, what a gorgeous day.

    • Charity at Reply

      It was a great hike and the weather could not have been better!

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