Silver Falls Loop (Rainier)

Silver Falls Loop (Rainier)

Elev. Gain: 
415 ft.
2,280 ft.
Mount Rainier, WA
3.25 miles (round trip)
Easy family-friendly stroll through majestic forest to a gorge-splitting waterfall
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All that melting snow and ice on the top of Mount Rainier has to go somewhere, and a fair amount of it ends up in the sparkling Ohanapecosh River on the southeast flanks of the mountain. The nearly-flat trail to Silver Falls parallels one of the nicest sections of the river, and delivers several viewpoints to appreciate the falls crashing down through a narrow gorge.

Silver Falls can be accessed from elsewhere (see map here), but most people choose to hike in from the Visitor Center at Ohanapecosh Campground. Since this trail is a loop, it can be done from either direction – although it should be noted that the east side of the loop offers a few (picturesque) stream crossings and a short interpretive trail, making it a bit busier than the west side.

To do the loop counter-clockwise, begin at the Visitor Center. To do the loop clockwise, first cross the bridge over the Ohanapechosh River and pick up the trail on a clearly marked trailhead just beyond. Either way, begin on a wide path through recovering forest that parallels the river down below. Follow easy-to-see signs (with mileage included) to stay on route and reach the short-but-powerful Silver Falls at 1.5 miles.

There are two main areas to view the falls: from the bridge spanning the gorge, and from an overlook right next to the frothy cascade. Although only 40' in height, the falls seems much more imposing as it crashes noisily and roars down the gorge beyond.

Permits & Tips

No passes or permits required to park at Ohanapecosh Campground in day-use area. Flush toilets available at the Visitor Center. Visitor Center is open from June – October and offers great (although aging) displays and historical information on Mount Rainier – check hours here. Download a National Park Service pdf map of Silver Falls Loop here. Obey all posted signs and stay on the proper side of railings. Come early summer to really see the falls in heavy run-off. No pets allowed.

>>Google Directions

How to get there

Ohanapecosh Campground is 12 miles north of Packwood (or 55 miles south of Enumclaw) along State Route 123 on the southeast side of Mount Rainier. The entrance to the campground is clearly signed from the road. Day-use parking in the campground is also clearly signed and can be found just inside Loop A, or on the far side of the bridge that spans the Ohanapecosh River.