The old-growth conifer forests of the Cascadia ecosystem, stretching from Northern California to Southern British Columbia, make up some of the most bio-rich and dense vegetation found anywhere on earth. While Mount Rainier National Park is known for the glaciated slopes of the massive stratovolcano and the spectacular wildflower meadows of its subalpine elevations, the majority of the park is actually dominated by old-growth forests of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and noble fir (Abies procera), comprising roughly 60% of the park's 236,381 acres.
It's here, in the Grove of the Patriarchs, that you will find some of the best remaining specimens of Cascadia conifer forest, situated along the loose gravel banks of the Ohanapecosh River. On this short hike these giants are easily accessible, making this adventure ideal for the whole family. Crossing over the Ohanapecosh River's small suspension bridge will put you on the boardwalk pathway that leads into the forest with trees as much as 1,000 years old and over 200 feet tall. At least one western red cedar is nearly 50 feet in circumference.
Note: If you love big trees, don't miss the park's other impressive grove along the Nisqually River at the Twin Firs Trail.