10 Easy Mount Rainier Hikes for Kids
One of the things I love about hiking with my kids is the chance to be out in nature with them. Whether it's doing hikes at North Cascades National Park, or visiting the Redwoods with kids, we love being in the outdoors together. But by far, some of our favorite kid friendly hikes to do in Washington state are Mount Rainier hikes with kids.
You may not know this about me, but I haven't always been an outdoorsy person. I used to prefer wandering through the streets of a city than the trails of a forest. But as I've gotten older, and since having kids, I've come to appreciate the outdoors.
One such place I've grown to love is Mount Rainier. This national park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. And practically any time of year is a good time to do Mount Rainier hikes for kids and families.
This post was originally published on April 28, 2018.
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Where to stay for your Mount Rainier hikes for kids
Established in 1899 and encompassing an area of 369 square miles, Mount Rainier National Park is a favorite camping and hiking destination for Seattle locals. It's really easy to get to from the city, and in fact gets approximately 1-2 million visitors per year!
If you're planning to camp at Mount Rainier, the three campsites are Cougar Rock Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground, and White River Campground. These sites have potable water, flush toilets, and fire grates. And some of the Mount Rainier hikes for kids start at these campgrounds. You'll need to make reservations on the National Park Service website to book the campsites. If you have pets, check the campsite for whether or not there are pets allowed.
If you're not in the mood to camp while you're doing your Mount Rainier hikes for kids, but aren't able to get a room at the lodges, consider staying at a hotel nearby. Just a word of warning, the selection is limited.
Mill Village Motel
Located in the town of Eatonville, about 32 miles from the entrance to the national park, Mill Village Motel is a decent option for families. Rooms are equipped with free WiFi and air conditioning. They can accommodate families of up to 4 people.
Allot about 40-60 minutes of driving between the park and the motel. There is parking available at the motel. And there are restaurants within a few minutes walk from the motel, which makes it convenient for families to get a meal after a day of Mount Rainier hikes for kids.
In the town of Morton, the Seasons Motel also offers a basic option for lodging. Rooms can accommodate up to 4 people. They're equipped with free WiFi and breakfast is available for free in the morning. The motel has on site parking available, and even offers parking for RVs.
Just like the Mill Village Motel, the Seasons Motel is a good distance away from Mount Rainier National Park (about 30 miles). So if you're planning to stay here for your Mount Rainier hikes for kids, be sure to leave about 40-60 minutes to drive between the park and the motel.
The best Mt. Rainier hikes for kids
If you have young kids and are thinking of introducing them to hiking, Mount Rainier is a great place to start. While there are plenty of long Mt. Rainier hikes, include the 93 mile long Wonderland Trail, which circumnavigates the mountain, there are also a good number of short easy Mount Rainier hikes for kids. Whatever your kids' ages and abilities, there are many options for Mount Rainier things to do, including a handful of activities geared towards kids.
During our last visit to Mount Rainier, our kids were still fairly young. So we didn't do many long Mount Rainier hikes. Instead, we chose shorter Mount Rainier trails, which allowed us to see many different parts of the park. It also gave the kids a bit of rest as we drove from one hike to another.
This Mount Rainier map is handy to have if you're looking to do some driving around the park. If you're looking for more ideas for exploring Washington state, one of our favorite bloggers, 2 Travel Dads, has some great Washington state hikes on their blog.
For families with young kids, choosing shorter Mount Rainier hikes for kids is the way to go to introduce them to the outdoors. Or if you're new to hiking, it's good to ease into this activity with some short hikes. Here are some of my favorite easy Mount Rainier hikes for kids.
Want to spend more time in Washington state? Take a look at my posts about the other great destinations in Washington.
1. Twin Firs
Located 1.9 miles southwest of Longmire, one of the visitors center situated in the southwest corner of the park, Twin Firs is an easy .4 mile loop through old growth forest. It's really short, with only a few uphills, which makes it a good introductory hike for kids.
2. Glacier Vista Loop via Skyline Trail
For a Mount Rainier hikes for kids trail with a view, try the Glacier Vista Loop via Skyline Trail. It's a 2.6 mile loop trail that starts near the Paradise Ranger Station. The trail is a bit challenging since it has an elevation gain of about 900 feet, so it's ideal for older kids rather than younger ones.
3. Trail of the Shadows
Another trail near Longmire is the Trail of Shadows, which starts just across from the National Park Inn. This trail is slightly longer than Twin Firs, at .7 miles, but it's fairly flat, and takes you through meadows.
What I liked about this option for Mount Rainier hikes for kids is that it also takes you through some of the historical parts of the park, back when it was used as a hot springs resort area in the 1800s. It was like walking back into time!
4. Shadow Lakes Trail
For kids who are up for hiking long distances, try the Shadow Lakes Trail. This is an out and back trail that spans 1.3 mile one way (so a total of 2.6 miles there and back). There is an elevation gain of about 270 feet, but you get to walk by Shadow Lake.
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5. Myrtle Falls
Along the southern face of Mount Rainier is a place called Paradise. Yes, Paradise does exists, and it's in Washington state! The Paradise area is gorgeous, reminiscent of the opening scenes from the Sound of Music, and it's also one of the more popular parts of Mount Rainier to visit.
A short half mile hike from the Paradise Visitors Center is Myrtle Falls, which gives you a stunning view of the summit. The Myrtle Falls trail is paved the whole way through, from the visitor center to the falls, so it's a good wheelchair and stroller accessible option for Mount Rainier hikes for kids.
6. Nisqually Vista Trail
The Nisqually Vista Trail is a short 1/4 mile loop trail that starts near Paradise Inn. This is a good easy round trip hike for young kids as the trail only has a 164 elevation gain. If you're looking for some introductory Mount Rainier hikes for kids, especially for toddlers, this is a good option!
7. Grove of the Patriarchs
Ever since our visit to the Redwoods, we've loved walking among ancient giant trees. If you're looking for Mount Rainier hikes for kids with giant trees, check out the Grove of the Patriarchs. This trail is a 1.2 mile loop through old growth forest, located near the Stevens Canyon Entrance on the southeastern part of the park.
There were plenty of ancient trees to marvel at during our hike, but the highlight was definitely the suspension bridge that takes you across one of the park's many creeks. The kids loved testing their bravery and crossing the bridge on their own!
8. Frozen Lake
A trail of similar length is the Frozen Lake trail, which goes out just shy of 1.5 miles, making the full trail length almost 3 miles. This is one of the longer options for Mount Rainier hikes for kids. There's an elevation gain of around 560 feet, but you'll get to see a lake during the hike.
9. Tipsoo Lake
By far, my favorite of the Mount Rainier hikes for kids that we tried was the trail around Tipsoo Lake. Located in the northeastern part of the park, along the Mather Memorial Parkway (State Road 410), it's a half mile loop around the lake.
We loved it because we were able to get some lovely views of the mountain, while also admiring the flowers in the fields and observing the guppies swimming in the water. It's also a good hike to end with, as it leaves you with a lasting impression of the mountain.
10. Naches Peak Loop Trail
This a 3.3 mile loop trail that starts about half a mile from Tipsoo Lake. There is about an elevation gain of 636 feet during the trail. This would be ideal Mount Rainier hikes for kids option if you have older kids who can walk farther distances.
Bonus: more Mount Rainier hikes for kids
If you're looking for more relatively easy Mount Rainier hikes for kids, take a look at these suggestions. We haven't personally done these trails, but they are all under 4 miles in length.
- Bench and Snow Lakes Trail: starts at Stevens Canyon Road, 2.5 miles round trip
- Hot Springs Nature Trail: starts at Ohanapecosh Campground, .5 miles round trip
- Silver Falls Trail: starts at Ohanapecosh Campground, 3 miles round trip
- Box Canyon Loop Trail: starts along Stevens Canyon Road, .5 miles round trip
- Dege Peak via Sourdough Ridge Trail: starts at the Sunrise parking area, 3.4 miles round trip
- Rain Forest Nature Trail: starts at Carbon River, .3 miles round trip
- Old Mine Trail: starts along the Carbon River Trail, 2.9 miles round trip
For more Mount Rainier hikes for kids ideas, check out the list of Mount Rainier hikes on the National Park Service website. You can also take a look at the hikes listed on the Washington Trails Association.
Read up on other activities you can do with kids in and around Seattle!
Basic information for Mount Rainier things to do
Take some time to research the best time to visit Washington state and Mount Rainier, based on your preferences. For our family, the best time of year to visit Mount Rainier National Park is between the months of July and September. This is when the temperatures are the warmest and most enjoyable for doing the Mount Rainier hikes for kids. But if you love the snow, you can pretty much visit any time of year, as long as the roads are passable.
Remember to practice sustainable travel as you're hiking at Mount Rainier National Park. And always aim to "leave no trace." That means carry out whatever trash you bring in, and avoid damaging plants or trees while you hike.
Essential items for your Mount Rainier hikes with kids
You don't really need any special equipment to enjoy Mount Rainier hikes with kids. But there a few essential items you'll need to have to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors.
Make sure you have comfortable shoes to do your Mount Rainier hikes for kids. For our kids, we like having them wear Keen shoes because they are durable and provide sturdy support. If your kids are prone to sunburn, make sure they wear a hat or wear some protective sunscreen.
In the summer time, you'll also want to make sure to have insect repellent that can repel ticks. They are quite prevalent in Washington state!
The other essential item to carry along as you're doing your Mount Rainier hikes for kids is a water bottle. We like the GRAYL Ultralight water purifier and filter bottle. The easy to use purifier and filter means that even if we run out of water during our hike, we can always replenish with spring or lake water if needed. Sometimes we'll bring along some travel card games to play while we camp, like our favorite game, Stack The Scoops.
Here are the hiking and camping essentials we use when we go to Mount Rainier:
Take a look at some of the amazing national parks you can visit with your kids!
Getting hooked on Mount Rainier hikes for kids
If you can't tell already, we love being in the outdoors and watching our children exploring nature. Though we're not what you would call extreme outdoor enthusiasts, we do enjoy adventuring out in nature. I'm still a city girl at heart, so these short trips into the woods is just enough for me to get my outdoors fix. And with two young kids in tow, it's helpful to keep these jaunts in nature relatively short, in order to introduce them to the outdoors bit by bit.
If you're looking for a way to get your kids hooked on the outdoors, these ten easy Mount Rainier hikes for kids are a great place to start. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and explore Mount Rainier National Park with your little ones!
Looking for more outdoor adventure in Washington State? Take a look at these posts for more ideas:
If you're planning on using these Mount Rainier hikes for kids as part of bigger family gap year trip, use my ebook, Hey Kids, Let's Go Travel! as your guide to start planning that trip today!
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