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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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!
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.
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:
- Shoes: KEEN Newport Sandals
- Sunscreen: Banana Boat Sport Ultra
- Insect repellent: Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray
- Water bottle: GRAYL Ultralight water purifier and filter
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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