We had Silver Forest Trail recommended to us by a volunteer at the Sunrise Area of Mount Rainier National Park. The trail is a simple out-and-back with no particular destination in mind, but it turned out to be the most eye-popping of any trail we hiked. This was due to the large array and variety of wild flowers that grew along the way.
Wild flowers are seasonal, and we visited in the first of August. If you are lucky enough to be at Mount Rainier at this time, this trail is must-do. If you visit at another time, make sure to ask a ranger if the wildflowers are out. Then you can leave us a comment to help our readers.
If you really want to park at Sunrise, we recommend arriving at sunrise. This is the most popular area of the park, and it is possible that you’ll be held outside the gate if you arrive late. The rangers do everything they can to get you in, including double parking and using all available space, but it is still really crowded. This is because Sunrise sits right at the foot of Mount Rainier, and it is really beautiful from this vantage point.
To find Silver Forest Trail, walk to the side of the parking lot opposite the gift shop. The trail starts at an obvious gap in the trees. Don’t go to the corner of the parking lot near the Visitor Center. That trail leads to Shadow Lake and other destinations. Instead, look about 25 meters back toward the parking lot entrance. Maybe this map from the National Park will help you find your way.
From there, the trail goes down to a lookout point for Mount Rainier. It is a gorgeous view of the valley and the glaciers. We could even see a massive waterfall thousands of yards in the distance coming out of the glacier off a high cliff face.
Turn to the left as the trail parallels the parking lot back toward the entrance. It follows along just below the ridge, passing through small meadows of flowers. There are plenty of colors, though we mostly saw purples and yellows. Orange and white were not uncommon.
Take it slow as you walk and you may see some animals, too. We spotted a grouse and some Stellar’s Jays. There were also chipmunks and squirrels. The ranger said that bears frequent the area, though generally they stay farther away from the parking lot, which is just up the hill.
Most people hike up above the parking lot, so we saw only one other couple on this quiet trail. They walked a little way and then turned back. We went all the way to the End Trail sign, which was about 0.6 miles, making the roundtrip distance for this hike 1.2 miles. We loved every minute of it our hike on the Silver Forest Trail in Mount Rainer! Visit our family guide about Mount Rainer National Park for more hike ideas.