Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park has been a place I’ve been itching to go for years. Maybe it’s the wild coastline. Or the temperate rain forests. Or the glaciers. Or the elk. Whatever it is, I was jazzed to reserve a campsite for early September. And then totally bummed when my husband told me he would have to work the weekend. I decided to man up and go anyways. To which Isaac said, “Either buy a gun or take another adult with you.” Fair enough. So, I called up my dad and invited him to join the girls and I. And we had an awesome time exploring the Olympic Peninsula last weekend.

Let’s start by saying, it is going to take more than a few visits to explore the whole park. It is gigantic – nearly a million acres. So, I considered this trip to be the appetizer. Just a taste to wet our appetite to all that the Olympic Peninsula has to offer. Here’s our route map, carefully crafted to minimize drive time and maximize fun!

We left Friday in the wee hours of the morning. In my dreams I pictured the Bodenettes slumbering the first three hours of our 5 hour drive. Instead they were singing, laughing, crying and demanding to use the bathroom. Good times. We drove up highway 101 on the east side of the peninsula to our first destination, Lake Crescent. We took a hike to Marymere Falls – a flat 2 mile roundtrip trail. A perfect trail for little hikers.

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After the hike we chilled lakeside and had a bite to eat. The water color of Lake Crescent is amazing. My kids kept calling it Rainbow Lake, for obvious reasons.

We loaded back into the car midday, hopped back on highway 101 and drove the remaining 90 minutes down to our campsite. (The girls napped the entire way. Raise the roof.) We camped at Kalaloch Campground on the southwest part of the park. It was great – lots of trees, easy beach access and decently sized campgrounds.

Kalaloch Beach is super long. Perfect for exploring, walking, running, etc. We spent most of our time playing on driftwood “playgrounds”. The kids were in heaven. Actually, I was too.

On Saturday we drove to the Hoh Rainforest, about an hour northeast of Kalaloch. We hiked two trails – Spruce and Hall of Mosses. Both are incredibly beautiful and great for little hikers. But, don’t be a bozo and bring your stroller, like I did. It won’t fit and you’ll be lifting it over roots, stairs and creeks most of the way. Plus, the terrain is totally doable for small people. (In my defense, I was thinking there was an 10 mile roundtrip option to hike a flat trail to 5 Mile Island. Knowing my kids max out at 3 miles and that I didn’t/couldn’t carry their buns 7 miles, I brought the BOB. While the trail description is “flat” with only 300 feet elevation gain, the trail is not wide and had stairs from the start. Another time!) Anyways, we took the Spruce Trail (approximately 2 mile loop) and were wowed by the trees, the moss and the river. We decided to venture off the path at one point and landed on the bank of the Hoh River. And there we stayed for a while.

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We ditched the Double Bob at the Hall of Mosses Trailhead and took the 1 mile hike through crazy moss covered maple trees. This trail is kid friendly and really really pretty.

On Sunday we packed up camp and stopped at the Quinault Rainforest on our way home. We hiked out from the south shore of Quinault Lake on the Falls Loop Trail. Another kid friendly trail with gradual elevation, few switchbacks and lots to look at. We finished the 2 mile loop and then explored the Old Quinault Lake Lodge for a bit. I even saw Sasquatch!

Then, we loaded our tired, hiking, campfire-smelling bodies into the car and made the 3 hour trek home. It was an awesome trip and such a fun memory to have with my dad and the girls. If I wasn’t sold before, I am totally bought in now. Olympic National Park is awesome and I cannot wait to go back and see Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duck Valley, Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach, Lake Ozette, Elwha Valley, Neah Bay… and on and on and on…

What National Park have you always wanted to visit? Any Yellowstoners out there? I cannot wait to check that one out!

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  • Reply
    Brenda Carrillo
    09/18/2015 at 12:14 pm

    I can imagine so many of those pictures framed and hung on a wall! Gorgeous!

  • Reply
    10/03/2015 at 7:00 pm

    So sweet! Hope to see that side of the USA too 😉

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