The Stevens Canyon Entrance on the southeast side of the park is a wonderful approach to Mount Rainier. The road, open June to October, begins in lush old-growth lowland forests, and winds up through a magnificent valley, with spectacular views of the Tatoosh Range. The visitor center is just before the park entrance.
Ohanapecosh Visitor Center - Stop into the visitor center for exhibits about the surrounding forests, including a super diorama of forest animals - beaver, raccoon, porcupine, coyote, owl, snowshoe hare, bobcat, life cycle of old-growth trees, and a touch table with beaver pelt, skulls and casts of animal tracks. Outside the visitor center is a section of Douglas fir with a timeline - the tree started to grow over 700 years ago.
- Hike the 3 mile loop trail to Silver Falls (trail starts in the campground, next to the visitor center). The trail follows along the river, crosses another creek, reaching an overlook over the falls, cascading into a lovely aquamarine pool. (At the falls, stay behind the guard rails, as the rocks can be slippery.)
Grove of the Patriarchs Trail - Here's a chance for kids to get close to "biggie" old-growth trees. This 1.3 mile level trail is perfect for kids, even little ones, and popular with local families. The trail follows along the sparkling Ohanapecosh River, then crosses a bouncy suspension bridge. On the other side, take the boardwalk through a forest of towering Douglas fir, red cedar and hemlock trees, and climb up into gnarled roots of fallen trees. After the hike, play on smooth pebbly beaches along the river, and bring a picnic.
Box Canyon - Make a quick stop to walk up a short trail (north of the road) to a wooden bridge, suspended over a deep narrow gorge. Look down at the rushing water of the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River. On the way to the bridge, on the right side notice the gray rocks, scraped by the glacier that once moved over them.
Reflection Lakes - On a clear day, here's where you'll see glorious panorama of Mount Rainier, reflected in the lake. Walk along the trail along the shore for varied views of the mountain.