Distance: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Pass: National Parks Pass
If you’re looking for an easy, kid-friendly hike within Mount Rainier to an epic waterfall, then look no further! I am currently pregnant, and I am looking for easier hikes to get out into nature without overdoing it, and this was a great choice for me (at 22 weeks).
The trail starts just behind the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center at the edge of the B camping loop. There was plenty of signage to help guide us to the right place. The day use parking was limited, but there seemed to be more scattered throughout the area, so stop into the Visitor Center if you need some additional help.
Once on the trail, we quickly hit a boardwalk and then a junction with a split off to the right. We stayed straight on the way to the falls and took the spur on the way back. It leads to the “hot springs” but there’s not much worth looking at left at this point, so I would’ve stayed on the main trail if I had known.
The trail meanders through nice wooded areas and across a couple creeks, including the Laughingwater Creek.
Soon after crossing the creek, you’ll approach the first view of the falls. If the snowmelt is still happening, it may be very voluminous. We decided to just hike to the falls and back instead of making the full loop since I wanted to make sure I managed my energy levels efficiently enough for the way back. There is an option to continue and it’ll loop back to the beginning.
It was a very impressive falls and the water is so clear! It’s generally accepted that Ohanapecosh means roughly “clear stream or deep blue,” according to the Upper Cowlitz tribe.
From Packwood, drive east on Highway 12 about 8 miles to the signed junction with for Highway 123. Turn north onto Highway 123 and drive 3.5 miles to the Ohanapecosh Campground. Turn left into the campground and follow the signs to the day use parking area.
Coming from the west side, drive east from Enumclaw for 47 miles on Highway 410 to the junction with Highway 123 at Cayuse Pass. Keep right at the junction and merge onto Highway 123 (Cayuse Pass Highway). Continue south for 11.5 miles to the junction with the Stevens Canyon Road. Pass the junction and continue south to the entrance for Ohanapecosh Campground on the right. It is about three miles past the Stevens Canyon Road junction. Turn into the campground and follow the signs to the day use parking area.
If the day use area is full, stop in at the Visitor Center to ask for help. Some, but not all, of the other campground loops also have Day Use parking. The Ranger Station may also have parking a 5 minute walk away.