Hiking Mount Rainier National Park
by Heidi Schneider & Mary Skjelset (Falcon Guides)
© Heidi Schneider & Mary Skjelset/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Went for a hike with my 8 year old at Mowich Lake in Mount Rainer national park earlier in the year, this is now probably my favorite place for taking kids hiking and camping.
Make sure that you get to the campground early to get a good spot, it is marked as a primitive camping ground and the spots fill up fast. Lots of day hikers use the trailheads to start off for day trips to Spray Falls and the ridge trail. The walk down past the lake from the campground is about a mile and is easy and fun for little ones. The lake is shallow (6in - 1.5 ft.) out to 10 - 20 feet then drops off a bit, the water is really nice and great for soaking in after coming back from a longer hike. Wrapping around the NE side of the lake and past the ranger station will lead you to a little trail that goes uphill and if you follow it up about 1 mile then get off the trail to the right you can find your way to a small meadow. There are lots of frogs here and you can spend an hour with kids watching and catching them.
Head back to camp and grab a day pack to follow the trail to Spray Falls, is trail has some elevation gain and loss but is a fun hike for 6-10 year olds and will leave them feeling like they got some good miles in. The total distance in and out is 6 miles and along the way you will walk through old growth trees and along rock shale. At about 2 miles in there is a great overlook that will give you a good chance to get some great pictures and video of Mount Rainer, continue to follow the trail up to Spray Falls and sit to have lunch and enjoy the view and cool water before heading back to camp.
So if you are looking at getting kids or the whole family out in the woods I would suggest Mowich Lake as a great spot. Go in late July and August and enjoy good trails and playing in the water.
I have seen many waterfalls in Washington and this ranks near the top. Wide, tall, and evenly distributed, this falls is impressive. Along the way you get a stellar view of Mount Rainier up the Ptarmigan Ridge from a cliff-top resting spot. Car camping is popular at the trailhead.
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