Coming up this weekend, Thursday-Sunday, August 25-28, you can celebrate the National Park Service’s Birthday with fee free entrance into all national parks! Of course, the closest national park to the South Sound is Mt Rainier National Park. If you’re making a visit with your kiddos, a great place to start is by hiking at Grove of the Patriarchs, where you can see 1,000 year old trees!
To access this hike, enter the park at the Stevens Canyon Entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. Continue west until you see the Parking lot with the helpful sign. There may or may not be a couple of sillies hanging out around there.
Take a potty break in the mostly clean bathrooms before hitting the trailhead. The Grove parking lot is also used by visitors to access Silver Falls, which is another great hike that goes a much farther distance. The Grove of the Patriarchs hike is a 1.1 mile mostly flat trail that includes a suspension bridge to a magical island of giant, old growth trees. The trail is well maintained and easy for little ones to traverse. You could bring your jogging stroller if necessary, but you will need help lifting it over some of the inclines that include steps.
Along the hike, you will see many fallen trees with giant root systems. Your kiddos won’t be able to resist a photo op!
You’ll spy the Ohanapecosh River from the trail, too!
The highlight for the kiddos on this hike is definitely the suspension bridge that allows crossing over the Ohanapecosh River. The sign alerts that only one person should pass at a time, so be prepared to wait your turn if it’s a particularly busy day at the Grove.
Once you’re on the other side, you will come to a boardwalk that winds through the old growth forest. There are benches for resting along the way, or simply sitting and taking in the grandeur of the forest.
Continue walking along the boardwalk, which is a loop and you will see this giant 1,000 year old tree that measures more than 7 kids across, or more precisely 40′ in diameter.
This hike is ideal for all ages, and is a wonderful start for little legs. Older kiddos will also enjoy the adventure of the suspension bridge, and the magnificence of the giant trees.
Looking for even more fun at Mt. Rainier with kids? Here are some other posts you might enjoy:
State parks are also free on Thursday, August 25, where you can visit all Washington state parks fee free! Our favorite south sound Washington State Parks are Saltwater State Park in Des Moines and Dash Point State Park in Federal Way.