7 Kid-Friendly Waterfall Hikes | Visit Rainier
Happy Girl and her Mountain Courtesy Kelly Selzer

7 Kid-Friendly Waterfall Hikes

Wondering which hikes are kid-friendly and lead to waterfalls? Check out the following trails. 

This list is in alphabetical order and has been curated to provide options for families traveling with children. We realize that kids of all ages have varying abilities. This list contains hiking options under a mile long up to 6 miles long for families traveling with older active kids, or families “wearing” babies in backpacks and baby carriers. 

1. Carter and Madcap Falls

Madcap Falls is a small 34-foot high gradual cascade located a short distance downstream from Tatoosh Creek on the Paradise River Trail. The falls are not signed but can be found about 100 feet above Carter Falls. While Madcap Falls is modest in comparison to Narada Falls it’s more than worthy of a visit. Located in the lush, dense forest, putting a visit to Madcap and Carter Falls together makes for a scenic and peaceful hike. Madcap Falls Trail is an out and back trail located near Longmire, Washington. This is considered an easy hike, good families and all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from July until October. This hike requires a river crossing using a pedestrian bridge. 3 miles round trip. Requires a National Park Pass.

2. Goat Falls

Step out of the car at the trailhead and you can already hear the sound of the rushing water. A short but very scenic trek leads you through the forest and past a series of cascading waterfalls before arriving at your destination at pretty Goat Falls. This is a 1-mile roundtrip hike with 238 feet of elevation gain. Requires a Northwest Forest Pass.

3. Little Mashel Falls

Best for families “wearing babies” or older children that can hike for nearly 6 miles. This is a dog-friendly trail in Pack Forest, Eatonville. While Pack Forest is always a good four-season destination, in spring it is especially beautiful. Spring is our favorite time to hike here when hidden frog choirs sing to the heavens, birds dart and twitter, flowers bloom and waterfalls roar. You can almost taste spring on your tongue. 6 miles round trip, 700 feet of elevation gain. No pass required. 

4. Martha Falls

The most challenging aspect of getting to this waterfall is finding the trailhead – it took us several tries. This short approach to Martha Falls begins on The Wonderland Trail on the east side (right) of the Stevens Canyon Road (4,150 feet), about a half-mile from “The Bench”, a long switchback between Reflection Lakes and Box Canyon with views of Stevens Canyon (a GPS may come in handy). Trailhead parking is limited – look for a pull-out about a mile from “The Bench” (a long switchback on the Stevens Canyon Road) between Reflection Lakes and Box Canyon. 1.8 miles roundtrip, 730 feet of elevation gain, National Park Pass required. 

5. Myrtle Falls

This is located not too far from the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. This is a stroller friendly walk most of which is paved. The pavement ends just past the waterfall. The path to Myrtle Falls begins on the northeast edge of Paradise Inn and is actually the first stretch of the popular Skyline Trail. This trail is usually accessible by mid to late July. One mile, round trip. 0.8 miles roundtrip, no elevation gain, requires a National Park Pass.

6. Narada Falls

Narada Falls is created by a 168-foot drop in the beautiful Paradise River. You can view the top from the edge of the parking lot, or take the short but steep trail to viewpoints below. These viewpoints let you see layers of wrinkled lava rock formed by past volcanic eruptions. Be prepared for refreshing sprays when the falls are at their peak!) From the parking lot at Narada Falls, there is a winding trail to the bottom of the falls. 2.4 miles roundtrip, 862 feet of elevation gain, requires a National Park Pass. 

7. Silver Falls Loop

At Silver Falls the crystal-clear Ohanapecosh River plunges 75 feet to form a wide “block” waterfall before entering a narrow slot canyon under the viewing bridge. You can hike to the falls along a half-mile trail that starts across the road from the parking lot for The Grove of the Patriarchs. Or take a 1.5-mile trail from the Ohanapecosh campground and visitor center. You can also view the river by driving to the bridge in the Ohanapecosh Campground. Notice how the river’s rushing water has smoothed and shaped the surrounding rocks over time—some of the most ancient rocks in the park. 3 miles roundtrip, 600 feet of elevation gain, requires a National Park Pass. 

MORE INFO

For additional kid-friendly activities click here for a free copy of the family edition travel guides. 

For a list of family-friendly accommodations in the Mount Rainier region click here

Waterfall Hikes
Photo courtesy Anna Robertson