Over the past three years, I have been exploring Mt. Rainer NP much more and I'm loving every part of the park. It is so different in each area and I love seeing new things every time I go. A few weekends ago, Mark took me to Stevens Canyon and Ohanapecosh because I had never been to that corner of the park. I thumbed through my guidebook, Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier, and saw three "loops" we could combine into one larger loop and decided to go for it.
We parked at the Ohanapecosh campground and immediately decided we had to come back and camp (which we did on July 2nd). The loop we decided to do was to combine the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs loop, the Silver Falls Loop and the lollipop Grove of the Patriarchs at the other end, returning on the other half of the Silver Falls Loop. Overall, I think it was about 6 miles and it was perfect.
The trail was nice and cool, and followed the river until we got to Silver Falls, which was roaring and splashing up spray. We crossed the bridge over the river and took tons of pictures from every overlook we could find. We watched a pair of logs caught in a whirlpool for at least 10 minutes, betting on which would would get out first (turns out neither did, even by the time we came back to the spot on our hike).
We continued north on the trail until we got to the road at the Stevens Canyon entrance. The parking lot for Grove of the Patriarchs was full and there were lots of people on the trail. I really enjoyed walking across the suspension bridge to the loop, even though there were lots of tourists. I definitely want to go back there on a weekday and get more pictures of the bridge and the creek since it was so pretty there. I'd love to lay out on the bank and just snooze.
On the way back to our, we decided to head right instead of left on the Silver Falls Loop as to not retrace our steps. This side was much less traveled and didn't stick as closely to the river, but was nice and quiet. It spit us out on the other side of the campground, so we wandered around searching for the best campsite. (Shhhh don't tell anyone but we really like the C and E loops. G was a close third, but it was full both times since it is first come first serve like the H loop, while the rest are all on a reservation system.) I really loved this loop and I definitely would do it again while camping at Ohanapecosh, which is now my favorite campground.