If you need a short, easy hike to round out your day at Mount Rainier, or a rainy-day hike, or a family-friendly hike, you’ll want to give the Grove of the Patriarchs a try. This 1.5 mile (round trip loop) trail offers an up-close look at some of the biggest and oldest trees in this area.
The trailhead for Grove of the Patriarchs is at the eastern end of Stevens Canyon Road — the highway that connects the popular Paradise hiking area with the park’s east side. If you’re coming from Paradise, you’ll find the parking area just before the park entrance booth.
There is absolutely nothing challenging about the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. It’s nearly level, smooth, and wide in most places. Big trees rise up along the sides of the trail, and even lean over it, in places where the old growth has fallen.
In places where the old logs blocked the path, a chunk has been chain-sawed out, allowing for a good look at the remarkable girth of these big trees.
Watch closely, and you’ll probably spot a spider or two, hanging alongside the trail.
If you have kids along for the hike, there’s a good chance that the trees won’t be their favorite part. This suspension bridge carries you over part of the Ohanapecosh River and onto an “island”, where the oldest and biggest trees live.
Don’t worry, despite the less-than-comforting sign, the bridge is safe to cross, albeit a little bouncy.
Beyond the bridge, the trail turns into a loop, which circles around the island, passing by some enormous Douglas firs, hemlocks, and cedars. Some are nearly 300 feet tall, and 40 feet around.
Even the roots are enormous!
Once you’ve made it around the loop, take the bridge back across to the mainland, and head back the way you came. Along the way, take time to enjoy the gentle sound of rushing water from the river nearby. And if you want to see more of that river, cross the street and head down the trail to Silver Falls, which I’ve covered on the next page.