10 Easy Mount Rainier Hikes for Kids

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The mountains are calling, and we’re hoping to do some Mount Rainier hikes for kids while the sunshine is here. My kids and I are itching to get some good hikes under our belt.

You may not know this about me, but I am not a big fan of winter. Give me a hot summer day and a cool beach, and I’m a happy girl. But anything cold and wet, on the other hand, puts me in a grumpy mood.

However, one of the things I will make an exception for is hiking at Mount Rainier. This national park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. And even a cold winter day is a good time to do Mount Rainier hikes for kids and families.

This post was last updated on June 29, 2021.

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A young girl taking a break from Mount Rainier hikes and looking at Mount Rainier at an overlook at Mount Rainier National Park
Checking out the summit of Mount Rainier (August 2017)

Being out in nature with the 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.

For a brief time, we can be away from the distractions of the iPad (for them) and social media (for me). We can just be together. We can act goofy and explore all the wonderful things that nature has to offer. Even writing this now, I’m itching to hop into my car and drive out to the nearest park!

Sometimes we’ll bring along some travel card games to play while we camp, like our favorite game, Stack The Scoops. But usually we just spend time outdoors and enjoy watching our children exploring nature. 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.

Take a look at some of the amazing national parks you can visit with your kids!

Taking a break from hiking (August 2017)

Exploring Mount Rainier things to do

Whatever your kids’ ages and abilities, there are so many options for Mount Rainier things to do. The park itself has 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 any many long Mount Rainier hikes.

Instead, we chose shorter hikes, 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.

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.

Reaching up to 14,000 feet at its highest point, it’s also a popular place for mountaineers. In fact, the park gets approximately 1-2 million visitor per year.

Goofing off along the trail (August 2017)

Preparing 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 hike in. 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 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.

Here are the hiking and camping essentials we use when we go to Mount Rainier:

Tipsoo Lake at Mount Rainier National Park (August 2017)

The best Mt. Rainier hikes for kids

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. But if you love the snow, you can pretty much visit any time of year, as long as the roads are passable.

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 hikes.

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.

For families with young kids, short hikes are 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.

Enjoying a Mount Rainier selfie! (August 2017)

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 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.

Crossing a foot bridge along Twin Firs Trail (August 2017)

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 trail 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.

Examining the hot springs along the Trail of the Shadows (August 2017)

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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! It’s a gorgeous area, 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 trail to the falls is paved the whole way through, so it’s wheelchair and stroller accessible.

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 one for young kids as the trail only has a 164 elevation gain.

A view of Mount Rainier summit from Myrtle Falls, one of the easy Mount Rainier hikes
The view of the summit from Myrtle Falls (August 2017)

7. Grove of the Patriarchs

Ever since our visit to the Redwoods, we’ve loved walking among ancient giant trees. The Grove of the Patriarchs 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. There’s an elevation gain of around 560 feet, but you’ll get to see a lake during the hike.

A child walking on a suspension bridge along the Grove of the Patriarchs, one of the Mount Rainier hikes
The suspension bridge along the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail (August 2017)

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 for older kids who can walk farther distances.

A girl and a boy taking Mount Rainier hikes along a trail with Mount Rainier in the distance
A view of the summit from Tipsoo Lake Trail (August 2017)

Take a look at the many other activities you can do with kids in and around Seattle!

Getting hooked on Mount Rainier hikes for kids

If you can’t tell already, we love being in the outdoors! 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:

Best Camping In Washington State For Families

Hiking In Spokane With Kids: 12 Best Family-Friendly Parks And Trails

If you’re hoping to visit Mount Rainier 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!

Ten Easy Mount Rainier Hikes For Kids | The Wandering Daughter | Suggestions for easy hikes for young kids at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.

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20 Responses

  1. I think a lot of these walks would be good for me, I am not a keen hiker so generally like the ones aimed at kids. Thanks for sharing such a nice post,

    1. Thanks! You know, sometimes it’s nice just to be outside. You don’t have to do a long hike or anything.

  2. I have been to Seattle twice (and love it) but I have never been to Mount Rainier National Park. I really want to visit because all the photos including these are beautiful. These hikes sound like they are on my level! LOL! But seriously, I think my favorite would be Myrtle Falls! Holy cow it’s beautiful! And if it’s reminiscent of The Sound of Music, count me in! So glad to know about that part of the park!

  3. What a lot of choices for places to explore! I love that you get the history laid out in front of you at the hot springs. I’d probably need the bravery of one of your two to get me over the suspension bridge – big wuss here when it comes to heights – but I think that if I had my godchildren in tow, I’d be hiding my fears. Such a beautiful area, and definitely on our wishlist.

    1. Hope you get to visit someday Bernie. There are some pretty good visitor’s centers at Mount Rainier too, so you don’t even have to go hike. 🙂

  4. Beautiful!!b I love hiking, but my hiking companions aren’t usually up to as challenging a hike as I often am! So having trail options that are beautiful but not difficult are always good to have on hand. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, it’s definitely good to have trail options that are appropriate for every member of your group. What’s your favorite hike that you’ve been on?

  5. I lived in the Seattle area for 3 years and I have only admired Mt. Rainier from afar. We did go once, in the snow, with my granddaughters. I wish I had explored the area around it like you. Myrtle Falls, for example, I don’t know about.

  6. A half-mile loop around a lake Tipsoo sounds like my kind of hike. I am not an avid hiker, so the kiddy hikes are just right for me 🙂 I definitely need to put Mount Rainier on my list of places to visit.

    1. There are some pretty nice lodges near Mount Rainier if you’re more into the glamping experience. 🙂

  7. Spring in Italy is still chilly and moody but it looks like the weather in Seattle is amazing! Thank you for all the tips, I think Myrtle Falls is SO beautiful, Paradise is a fitting nickname!

    1. Thanks Danila. I’m sure Italy can get pretty beautiful too. Seattle is generally overcast, so when we get those rare sunny days, we always try and take advantage of them!

  8. As I read from one park to the next I kept thinking “No! This sounds like the best one!” So many great options, I definitely have to get to Seatle! I love the sound of checking out the meadows and historic vibes at Trail of Shadows, but obviously I couldn’t turn down a Sound of Musicesque place called Paradise either! Great tips and lovely photos 🙂

  9. I loooooooooove hiking around in the Pacific Northwest – everything from Seattle on up to Vancouver and beyond is just gorgeous. And, added bonus, you found a suspension bridge! Love the writeup and the list. They might be kid-friendly hikes, but it seems like they’d be awesome for a less strenuous outing for adults! 🙂

    1. Oh yes, definitely Meagan. I think they would be great options if you were more interested in just taking in the view.

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