Everyone comes to Mount Rainier National Park to see one of the tallest peaks in the United States, but while visiting, the Grove of the Patriarchs is a must-see. This stroll along the Ohanapecosh River runs through a thick forest full of huge trees. Some of these trees are over 1000 years old!
This shaded, easy hike is fantastic for families with kids or adults of all ages. It even includes a suspension bridge, a boardwalk and a place to hang out and relax along the river.
If you are headed to Mount Rainier National Park, make sure you take the time to visit this incredible concentration of giant trees!
The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail is included in our downloadable itinerary for Mount Rainier National Park. This guide also includes maps, details on the best hikes in Mount Rainier, where to stay, what to pack and what to do while you are in the area. We strive to help shorten the planning cycle for you as you get ready for your trip!
PARKING AND TRAILHEAD FOR THE GROVE OF THE PATRIARCHS TRAIL
Grove of the Patriarchs parking area, courtesy of the National Park Service
The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail is located in the Ohanapecosh area, which is in the southeastern quadrant of the park. If you are heading to the trail from outside of the park, the closest entrance is the Stevens Canyon entrance (from the south), which is just north of Packwood, WA. However, most people happen upon the trailhead while they are driving Stevens Canyon Road or Highway 123 when driving around the park.
Most visitors to the park don’t make this their first stop, but if you plan on being here at an exact time, you’ll want to make sure you allow extra time to get here. Traffic around Paradise (in particular) can be quite dense and will likely extend your travels to the parking lot by at least five minutes if you are here during the busy time of a summer day. If you are driving on the Stevens Canyon Road early in the morning (say, before 8:30), you will only see light traffic.
- Directions from the Packwood, WA to the Grove of the Patriarchs (this will take about 20 minutes without traffic)
- Directions from Ashford to the Grove of the Patriarchs (this will take about 70 minutes without traffic)
The parking lot for the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail is quite small, with slightly less than 30 spaces available. Considering how popular this hike is, you can expect the lot to be full, and it does fill up quickly in the morning. The good thing is that the hike is short, and most people only spend about 45 minutes on the trail. This means that you should have a spot opening up about every 1 to 2 minutes.
Don’t let the crowds in the parking lot scare you away, though. This trail is busy for a reason, and the small parking lot has a way of throttling the number of people that are on the trail. We visited in the afternoon on a busy day, and still were able to be by ourselves on the trail for most of the hike.
There are restrooms available at the trailhead. As you can imagine, they are quite busy, so expect to wait in line. There are no restrooms on the trail.
HIKING THE GROVE OF THE PATRIARCHS TRAIL
Grove of the Patriarchs Trail map, courtesy of the National Park Service
Before you head out on the hike, you’ll want to be prepared. We recommend putting on bug spray, bringing water and also consider bringing a light microfiber towel (they are great for hiking) in case you (or your kids) want to dip their feet in the Ohanapecosh River. Since the trail is mostly shaded, sunblock is not really required for this hike (though you’ll want to make sure you have it for other trails in the park, as most of them are exposed..
The trail starts on the north side of the parking lot and is well marked. A trail sign at the beginning of the trail introduces hikers to what they are about to see on the trail.
Immediately after starting the hike you’ll be immersed in the middle of the forest. As stated earlier, some of these trees have been around for over 1,000 years and are still growing strong. The forest includes Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir.
The first 0.3 miles of the trail follows the west shoreline of the Ohanapecosh River. Along the way you’ll come upon signs with interesting information about the history of the forest and the trees that you’ll find here.
After the first stretch, the trail comes to a narrow suspension bridge. This short bridge is a lot of fun to cross, especially for kids. The only problem is that it is common for a line to form on either side, since the number of people allowed on the bridge at any one time is limited.
After crossing the bridge, the trail turns into a boardwalk loop. This short loop travels around even larger trees, and allows you to get up close.
What we loved about this hike is everyone seemed to act as if they were in a library, keeping their voices quiet and really taking in the beauty around them.
On the way back, the kids wanted to stop and play in the Ohanapecosh River, which was easy to do while we were there, as the water level wasn’t high. This was a great place for us to relax and just enjoy the end of the day, as we had already hiked the Skyline Trail to Panorama Point earlier in the day and were quite tired!
When we got back to the parking lot, it was around 5:00 pm and there were still plenty of hikers coming on the trail. The total trail is 1.2-miles (round-trip), with just 55 feet of total elevation gain. It will take around 1 hour, allowing for time to read signs, wait to cross the suspension bridge and relax a little by the river.
- While the trail is relatively flat and easy, it is not wheelchair accessible and all hikers need to watch their step.
- We highly recommend taking this trail. It is so peaceful, and a good break after some of the other hikes in the park which are a bit more intense.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- In addition to the numerous blogs we have on Mount Rainier, we also have a downloadable itinerary for Mount Rainier National Park. This itinerary covers all the areas of the park in detail, and includes what to pack, where to stay, what to do while you are in the area and also ranks the best day-hikes in the park. Plus, you can print the guide or keep it with you on your device to access, regardless of whether or not you have cell service which is sporadic in the park.
- Be sure to check out our blog 8 reasons why you’ll fall in love with Mount Rainier National Park. It gives a broad overview of the park and what you can expect to see during your visit.
- An epic hike that we went on is covered in our blog, Hiking the Skyline Trail to Panorama Point. This hike is one of the most popular and quite challenging, but the views are incredible.
- We have an extensive collection of vintage-style travel posters, including several Mount Rainier National Park posters. Some can even be personalized with your wording.
- We also offer vintage-style travel posters that can be created from a photo that you send to us. Check them out on our page about creating a vintage-style travel poster. This one-of-a-kind memory will be sure you remember your trip forever!