Overall, Mount Rainier can be intimidating, but these hikes still offer great views and won’t make you sweat too much.
Mount Rainier was one of the first national parks in the United States, and the diverse natural landscape that spans its hundreds of thousands of acres undoubtedly deserves our fiercest protection. The jewel of Washington state contains the iconic Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano that stretches over 14,000 feet skyward. Although there is a trail that reaches the top, the ascent can be dangerous and requires both prior training and special tools.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of trails that are more accessible to visitors to enjoy spectacular views of the parks’ most remarkable features. These easy hikes in Mount Rainier National Park maximize beauty while minimizing physical demands.
ten Box Canyon Trail
- Distance: 0.3 mile loop
- Elevation gain: 19 feet
The Box Canyon Trail is just off the main road and is a perfect warm-up for visitors to Mount Rainier. The short trail has virtually no elevation gain but includes several spectacular views. Large trees rise in all directions and there is a field of magnificent rocks covered with moss. A small walkway crosses the rugged, glacier-carved Box Canyon, where hikers can enjoy an aerial view of the water flowing through.
9 Patriarch Grove Natural Trail
- Distance: 1.1 km round trip
- Elevation gain: 52 feet
The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail is an easy way to acclimatize to the beauty of the park. This short hike can take several hours, depending on how long it takes a person to admire the countless beautiful sites along the way. Coniferous forests filled with ancient Douglas fir trees create a magical atmosphere. Hikers will cross a suspension bridge over the Ohanapescosh River, spot colorful mushrooms growing everywhere, and walk through boardwalks that blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings.
8 Nisqually Vista Trail
- Distance: 1.1 mile loop
- Elevation gain: 180 feet
The Nisqually Vista Trail is great for all ages and skill levels. Not only will hikers enjoy a magical view of Mount Rainier, but they will also pass through Paradise Valley, which comes alive with colorful wildflowers in the summer and stunning foliage in the fall. It is also not uncommon to see deer mothers rushing into the forest with their fawns. The entire trail is paved which makes it as pleasant on the feet as it is on the eyes.
7 Narada Falls
- Distance: 0.3 miles round trip
- Elevation gain: 72 feet
This short, short hike is less than half a mile but has some incredible views. It’s a popular crossing point for park enthusiasts, so set out early to enjoy a more intimate adventure. Hikers descend a doable 72-foot descent to Narada Falls from the parking lot, where they will observe a waterfall that is as gentle as it is powerful. Surrounded by lush forest and often shrouded in mist, the trail also features a castle-like stone structure, making it a great place to feel like walking through the pages of a fantasy novel.
6 Path of Shadows
- Distance: 0.7 mile loop
- Elevation gain: 39 feet
For hikers who don’t mind learning a thing or two on their trek, informative signs about the region’s history dot the Path of Shadows. The mostly flat loop covers a lot of ground, taking guests through dense forest and serene streams colored by wildflowers. The trail also includes a replica of an old farmhouse hut and rock pools surrounding the hot springs. Take the road counterclockwise for the best experience.
5 Dead Horse Creek Trail
- Distance: 2.2 miles round trip
- Elevation gain: 725 feet
Don’t let the name alarm you. There will be no dead horses on the ride. The paved, busy trail offers stunning views of Mount Rainier with a foreground of lush meadows. Hikers will hear the calming sound of bubbling streams and may spot marmots, chipmunks, and mountain goats on their journey. With a bit of elevation gain, the trail is on the more difficult side, easy but still manageable for most visitors, and the rewarding views will keep them going.
4 Sunrise Lake Trail
- Distance: 1.5 mile loop
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
It would be correct to assume that the Sunrise Lake Trail is a great place to watch the sunrise, but it’s great for different skill levels at any time of the day. The trail crosses the forest and ends with a picturesque view of the eponymous lake. The clear blue waters reflect the surrounding pine trees and clear skies to create a landscape that Bob Ross couldn’t resist painting.
3 Carbon River Rainforest Nature Trail
- Distance: 0.3 mile loop
- Elevation gain: 65 feet
Lovers of flora will fall under the spell of the Carbon River Rainforest Nature Trail. Unfortunately, this side of Mount Rainier is less popular than other areas due to its lack of mountain views, but guests on the quieter side can explore a temperate rainforest teeming with endless shades of green. Ferns cover the forest floor and the sun’s rays penetrate the dense canopy to create a magical prehistoric ambiance. Although the trail is less maintained than the others, it only adds to the wild feeling.
2 Silver Forest Trail
- Distance: 1.9 mile round trip
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
This popular trail features two incredible views of Mount Rainier from the start, and those who continue their hike will reap the rewards of the pursuit. Crowds are scarce and the iconic mountain remains visible from the narrow path for most of the trip. The meadows decorated with seemingly endless wildflowers will make park-goers frolic and maybe even sing along.
1 Carter Falls Trail
- Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
- Elevation gain: 557 feet
its easy hike has it all. It starts with dense, old-growth forests and opens to a log bridge crossing a rocky river with stunning views of Mount Rainier in the background. Hikers will follow the river to reach the falls, blessed with a beautiful view complemented by the towering trees. Visitors can add the Madcap Falls Trail to extend their adventure without additional difficulty.
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