Contributing writer Julie shares two more family friendly hikes near Mt.Rainier. We would recommend these for the summer-always check trip reports for conditions before you go.
My family and I tried two kid friendly hikes near Mt. Rainier during a recent camping trip. The first is the Silver Falls loop that begins/ends at the Ohanapecosh campground. This is a wonderful spot for a family car camping trip, but you don’t have to stay there to access the trail.
The Silver Falls hike is a total of 2.7 miles of well-maintained trail that is wide enough for 2-3 across. The trail winds through beautiful forests of western cedar and hemlocks. About halfway into the hike you come to the deep gorge created by the Ohanapecosh River in one direction, and the wide and rushing falls in the other. A wooden bridge crosses here (hold on to your phone/camera!), and the trail loops you back to the campground.
This hike gains little elevation, and it took us about 2 ½ hours with our 5 and 6-year-old kiddos.
This would be a terrific hike with a little one in a backpack or carrier, but it’s’ not for strollers. If you want to extend the hike, the Grove of the Patriarchs is nearby too! It’s a stunner with old growth forests, river views, and a fun (and rather bouncy) suspension bridge. Wta.org has directions and route options here.
After packing up our campsite on Sunday morning we headed up Stevens Canyon road towards Paradise (a National Parks pass is needed for this one!) and parked at the Bench and Snow Lakes Trailhead. This is an easy/moderate hike that totals 2.6 miles roundtrip. There are beautiful alpine meadows, terrific views of Mt.Rainier, and the two lakes. We actually didn’t stop at Bench Lake, but pushed on to Snow Lake about ½ mile further on.We did find a couple hundred feet or so of snowy patches still on the trail, but they were pretty easily navigated.
Snow Lake itself is gorgeous and has great views of Unicorn Peak. We backtracked a bit and followed the trail to the two-backcountry tent sites and found some nice places to sit and enjoy views of the lake without a lot of company. This is a popular hike, and the parking lot gets pretty crowded. I’d recommend heading out early! You can check trip reports at the Wta.org site here.
Note from SFM: Do read trip reports before any hike and use caution if you encounter snow fields. Later in the summer, the lake hike will be a great spot for wildflowers (do bring your bug spray).
The article and gorgeous lake pic are from our contributor. The top pic is a very old one of my boys and me at Silver Falls.
If you like this hike, we have more kid and family friendly hike options near Mt. Rainier in this post!