Best ‘Rookie Trails’ at Mount Rainier 4: Silver Falls

posted in: Mount Rainier, Trail Tips | 0

Located on the Mountain’s southeast flank out of Ohanapecosh, Silver Falls is one of the best-known waterfalls cobwebbing Mount Rainier National Park. An easy hike through a spectacular old growth and an emerald green conifer cathedral, it’s also a great trail for first time visitors to the park.

Access to the falls is by a family-friendly loop trail of about three miles. The are four basic trail head options:

  • Pick up the trail head behind the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center and the Hot Springs Nature Trail at the far end of B Loop.
  • Cross the Ohanapecosh River bridge and pick up the trail off the amphitheater as you head into the campground’s D loop (on your right at the brown kiosk).
  • Access the trail off Highway 123. It begins 1.6 miles north of Ohanapecosh, with parking at the pullout on the west side of the road.
  • You can also hike down from just inside the Stevens Canyon Entrance. The trail leading to the falls is on the west, across from the Grove of the Patriarchs trail head.

It’s loud at the overlook. Zillions of gallons of water crashing over massive boulders kick up a fine mist and roar like a freight train! Tip: The fine curtain of mist at the overlook is particularly refreshing on a warm summer day. Heads: Watch your step. There’s plenty of ‘tangle foot’ at the overlook. And the railing is there for a reason. Stay. Behind. It.

The Silver Falls Loop is one of the first trails to melt out in spring. It’s also one of the most popular trails in the park. It gets crowded during peak season. There’s a reason for that, too!

Getting there: From Enumclaw, drive east about 47 miles on State Route 410 to the junction with SR 123 at Cayuse Pass. Stay right (straight ahead) to merge onto SR 123-Cayuse Pass Highway. Drive south about 11.5 miles to the junction with the Stevens Canyon Road. Continue south on SR 123 past the Stevens Canyon Road to the Ohanapecosh Campground on the right in about 3 miles. Turn in to the campground and park in front of the visitor center. The trailhead is found behind the visitor center.

From the south, drive US 12 about 8 miles east of Packwood to the junction with SR 123. Turn north onto SR 123 and continue 3.5 miles to Ohanapecosh Campground. Turn left (west) into the campground and park as described above.