Escape the big city hustle and bustle and venture into the vibrant groves of Mt Rainier. Just 3 hours from downtown Seattle, Washington stands the 5th oldest National Park in the United States. With towering peaks, beautiful water features, and flourishing forests, Mt. Rainier National Park has activities for any adventurer, no matter how young or old. If you’re looking for a fun family adventure but don’t have much time, here is a 1 day of Family Friendly Hikes in Mt Rainier National Park.
Why Mt. Rainier?
My dad grew up in the Seattle area and when they were deciding what to name me they landed on Raini, short for Rainier- as in Mt. Rainier. He always told me that he wanted to name me after something beautiful because he knew I would be too.
Needless to say, I have a connection with Mt. Rainier and wanted to go there. I had my picture taken with the peak showing through the window of the plane as a kid, but that was the closest I had ever gotten. As my love for hiking and being in beautiful places grew, I felt a beckoning to visit my namesake. My husband, 1 year old daughter, and I booked a flight for mid-August 2021 and were on our way.
Your reasoning for visiting the park will be very different I am sure. If you’re not convinced yet that you should pay a visit to the 3rd highest peak in America, I invite you to reconsider! Mt Rainier should be at the top of your list for must-see National Parks during the summer.
Best time to visit:
Washington is known for it’s rainy, cloudy weather the majority of the year. The best time to visit for clear views of the mountain and comfortable hiking conditions with your family is June-August. It is so unpredictable though! We went in mid-August and of course, the 4 days of overcast weather for the month of August were while we were there. If you can be flexible with your itinerary of your trip, you’ll want to leave the sunniest day for visiting the park to get the best view of Mt Rainier.
Even if it is a cloudy day, you will still appreciate the flowering fields, wandering wildlife, and mysterious groves of trees. Even though the best months of the year to visit are during the summer, you will want to bring warm layers. With the higher elevation, temperatures average in the low 50s to 30s. It will be significantly warmer in the city, so pack accordingly!
Stay up to date with when the park is open by checking their official website here. Because each year’s winter precipitation levels are different, the opening day can vary.
Where to Stay:
I am lucky enough to still have family that live in the Seattle area so we stayed at their place and made a day trip out to Mt Rainier. Although, if you are thinking to spend several days in the National Park, I would stay somewhere closeby. There are several inns in the park you can book a room at, but the convenience comes with a big price tag.
Find cozy Airbnbs in the area here: https://www.airbnb.com/s/Mount-Rainier–WA/homes?adults=1&place_id=ChIJ-2AI95PRkFQRB7fWeuFPXls&refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes
There are also several campgrounds around the park you can reserve in advance if you are looking to save money and be more adventurous.
1 Day Mt Rainier Itinerary:
Our suggested hikes for 1 day in Mt Rainier National Park all start on the southeast side of the park. There are hikes all over the park, but Paradise was highly recommended to us before going. The road to Paradise has so many trails as you go and on a sunny day you will see Mt Rainier in her beauty right from the road.
Start your day navigating to the Stevens Canyon Entrance where you will pay the park entrance fee of $30 or use your Annual Parks Pass. The $30 fee is per car and grants you access to the park for 7 consecutive days.
Grove of the Patriarchs
- 1.1 mile
- 52 ft. elevation
- Rated Easy
- Family friendly
- CLOSED until further notice 🙁
Grove of the Patriarchs is a short hike rated “easy” with very little incline. It is a peaceful walk through the lush forest, over the Ohanapecosh River on a bouncy suspension bridge, and out to the island where you encounter 1,000+ year old trees. These trees are the “Patriarchs” of the grove. Since they are situated on an island, they are protected against forest fires which has allowed them to survive so many years. Many have a 25-35 ft diameter trunk.
Unfortunately, this trail has been closed until further notice due to damage from high levels of precipitation. Until that has been repaired and reopened- Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail or Silver Falls Trail are great alternatives nearby. They are all in the same area, giving you a fairly similar experience.
- Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail
- Silver Falls Trail
- 3.6 mile out & back
- 931 ft elevation
- Rated Moderate
- Family Friendly
- Beautiful views
After driving Steven’s Canyon Road for about 17 miles, you will come upon Reflection Lakes on the right-hand side. Parking is along the side of the road. You will park and then drop down onto the trail. This is an impressive spot for capturing photos of Mt. Rainier on a sunny day. The lake is so clear and positioned just so that the mountain will reflect on the still water. There are benches around the lake where you can sit and admire the gorgeous view. Or you can follow the moderately difficult trail that leads up to Narada Falls.
As you can see, the day we went Mt Rainier was hiding behind a thick layer of clouds. We patiently waited for the clouds to move and briefly got a glimpse of her. It is still a beautiful place even with the clouds, but we are looking forward to going back for the full view!
Myrtle falls via Skyline Loop Trail
- .8 mile out & back
- 150 ft elevation
- Rated Easy
- Family Friendly
Next up is Myrtle Falls via the Skyline Loop Trail. To access this trail, you follow Stevens Canyon Road all the way to the top. You’ll park at the Paradise Inn, a relaxing retreat in Mt Rainier with amazing views. Once you pass through the parking lot, it’s a one way road that loops around to go back down Stevens Canyon Road. There are spots along the shoulder of the road where you can park and walk up to the trail if the parking lot is full. The Inn has food options if at this point in the day you are hungry and didn’t pack something.
The trail to Myrtle Falls is quick and easy. Wildflowers are blooming, the trees are towering, and the beautiful snow capped mountain is beaming right before you. Getting down to the falls is the trickiest part of the trail, and can be slippery if wet. Once you’ve snapped a few pictures of the falls, you can continue on the Skyline Loop as far as you want before turning back.
As we followed the path, we encountered a woodchuck of some sort and we stood there watching him nibble on his food for a few minutes! Again, since it was such a cloudy day when we were there, we didn’t get to see Mt Rainier clearly and we will be going back to get the full experience.
If you want more than 1 day in Mt Rainier National Park:
You could easily fill more than one day in Mt Rainier National Park. We regretted not having more time, but are looking forward to our next visit. Notable hikes that we will be going back to on the opposite side of the park are:
- Carbon River Rain Forest Nature Trail
- Tolmie Peak Trail
- Silver Forest Trail
Check out our recommended products for hiking & camping with a baby:
Check out our other adventures and family friendly itineraries here.