Our last day at Mount Rainier National Park, we wanted to make sure to see everything that we could. And we managed it by taking “mini” hikes. I put that in quotes because we hiked over 10 miles total and two of the hikes were 4 miles each. The shortest was .3 miles.
We had managed to see the main areas of the park: Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh but this day was to see the places in between. Please note that there are parts of the park that we did not get to see such as Sunrise and Carbon River areas. Our visit was all along the south portion of the park.
Mini Hike Trails:
- Kautz Creek Trail – We hiked 2 miles in and then turned and headed back to the trailhead.
- Twin Firs Trail – .4 Mile Loop, super quick little trail.
- Van Trump Trail – .6 Miles to bridge over Christine Falls and back to trailhead/parking lot – the whole trail is much longer, we only did a very short section.
- Stevens Creek Trail > Wonderland Trail > Walk road back to trailhead: About 4 miles round trip.
- Box Canyon: This isn’t necessarily a hiking trail but there are a number of paved paths to overlooks that are worth visiting.
Kautz Creek Trail
The Kautz Creek area of the park is interesting because the trees are much younger and thus much smaller. This is because mudslides are frequent in this area. These slides can completely wipe out the vegetation in the area and change the creek-bed. Parts of this trail were really easy to hike and then you turn this corner on the tail and there are a lot more downed trees, the trail gets steeper and things feel close and dark. I expected to see a hermit or witch’s cottage among the trees. I really enjoyed this trail and hope to hike the rest of it on our next trip to Mount Rainier.
Twin Firs Trail
The Twin Firs Trail is a supper short loop trail right off the main road on the way to Longmire. This is a really pretty trail though and if you aren’t a big hiker or can’t walk too far this might be a good trail for you. Be advised it does have some uphill portions but they are fairly short.
Van Trump Trail
The Van Trump Trail was another really short hike for us. We just hiked to the bridge over Christine Falls. I can tell you that is a great spot for photos but not much else about the trail. This is a fairly popular trail and the parking lot is fairly small, I would suggest getting to the trailhead early if you plan to hike there during the busy season.
Stevens Creek Trail
The Stevens Creek Trail is fairly short at only .6 miles until it reaches the Wonderland Trail. There is a fantastic little hidden waterfall on this trail and we only saw two other hikers. Once we turned onto the Wonderland Trail we went towards Box Canyon and then the turn off to get back to the road. The trail is really beautiful and probably the easiest of the whole trip. It’s a nice walk in the woods.
I don’t really consider the Box Canyon Trail a hike since it is paved part of the way. Either way this a fascinating park of the park. The Box Canyon is narrow canyon but deep canyon that the main road crosses right over. If you stop and look down into the canyon, make sure to hold onto all your belongings because from the bridge the canyon is 180 feet deep. The end of the paved portion of the trail lends to a fantastic view of Mount Rainier, on days when he decides to show his face. If you do none of the other mini hikes, do this one.
General rules for hiking in a national park:
- Take water with you.
- Bring snacks.
- Remember that dogs are not allowed on the trails in national parks.
- Tell someone what trail you are going on and when to expect you back.
- Bring a GPS or a good map and know how to use them.
- Always have a first aid kit.
- Bring a rain jacket.
- As with any hiking trail, stay on the trail, leave no trace, pack it in-pack it out.
There are plenty of other hiking must-haves and trail etiquette bits but these are some good general ones to remember for most hikes. This was a fantastic day at the park. Between these hikes we also stopped at overlook points to slow down for a moment and just enjoy the beauty of the park. Let me know your favorite trail at Mount Rainier National Park or in your area. Safe travels and remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints. Talk to you in the comments.
Thank you KW Photography for allowing me to use your wonderful photos!