Kid Friendly Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula
As the Olympic Peninsula passes by outside your window, the urge you and your children feel to get out and explore becomes stronger and stronger. Like the towering trees, under which your camper van passes, your roots to the region grow deeper. Each mile that passes, the craving to get out and experience this landscape with your kids becomes too much; you must stop and explore.
The Olympic Peninsula is a wilderness playground, giving endless locations for the perfect family hiking vacation. The Olympics are for kids of all ages to develop a relationship with nature, helping them appreciate the solitude and splendor of the great outdoors. It is also a place to spend some quality time with your family, bringing you closer and helping to create lifelong memories. The Olympic Peninsula is known for amazing hikes and rugged wilderness, but finding the perfect place to go can be a challenge. The Olympics have roughly 1,000 miles of trails, making finding the perfect trail for the kids a tough endeavor. To help with this, we have outlined 23 destinations to hike with your kids in and around Olympic National Park. While this is by no means a full list of family-friendly hikes, these trails are classics, bringing you to the best of what the region has to offer.
Kalaloch and Ruby Beach
Sandwiched between Aberdeen and Forks, the beaches of Kalaloch are the perfect getaway for those with kids of all ages. Offering numerous access points, each with unique opportunities, Kalaloch is the perfect place to set up camp and hang out for a day or two. Your best spots for an amazing day with the kiddos will be found at Ruby Beach and the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life is an iconic tree that is clinging to the bluffs, slowly being pulled down to the beach as a cave erodes beneath it. Found north of the steps at the southern beach access by the campground, this is a great place for pictures and to set up a picnic area before wandering the scenic beach. While the Tree of Life is impressive, don’t make this the only stop at Kalaloch.
North of the campground, Ruby Beach is quite possibly the prettiest, most accessible beach on the entire West Coast. Offering towering sea stacks, tons of driftwood, miles of walking and a fun creek to explore, Ruby Beach is consistently one of the greatest places to visit, all year long, in Olympic National Park.
During the summer months, ranger-led hikes and educational walks take place both at the campground and the Kalaloch visitor center. Topped off with a campground right on the bluffs above the beach, staying and exploring at Kalaloch needs to be added to every Olympic Peninsula itinerary.
Lake Quinault and the Rainforest Hikes
Less than an hour north of Aberdeen on Highway 101, you’ll find yourself with an opportunity to explore the Quinault region of Olympic National Park and Forest. Quinault is extremely kid-friendly, offering miles of trails to explore, a cool old lodge to hang out at, a handful of camping areas and some opportunities to get into the backcountry. The entire Quinault region can be accessed by driving the Lake Quinault Loop, a 31 mile route full of stops that show off towering trees, waterfalls and amazing views. A few of the highlights found here are the 13 miles of paths at the Quinault Rainforest Nature Trail, a short trek to the world’s largest spruce tree, a quick jaunt to Merriman Falls, a hike around Maple Lane, and the trails at the July Creek Picnic Area.
On the South Shore of Lake Quinault, the Rainforest Nature Trail, spruce tree and Merriman Falls are all found within a few miles of the Lake Quinault Lodge, where you can get a ton of information on everything there is to do in this area. Each of these stops in Olympic National Forest is a must-see and perfect for kids, as they offer places to explore and play, letting them embrace the wilds of the region. Merriman Falls and the spruce tree are super short spots to reach, while the Rainforest Trail has up to 13 miles of trails.
On the North Shore, Olympic National Park’s Maple Glade Trail and the paths at July Creek Picnic Area are can’t miss stops for short day hikes. In the summer months, ranger led walks and talks leave the Ranger Station near Maple Glade, while July Creek offers beach access and trails through the towering timber of the region.
If you are looking for a longer day hike, drive down to Olympic National Park’s Graves Creek Campground. From here, you can hike to Pony Bridge, where you’ll enjoy the wonders of the rainforest and a picturesque bridge across a narrow box canyon. More Quinault hikes can be found here.
The Hoh Rainforest
South of Forks, the Hoh Rainforest is the perfect place for hiking with kids. It is also one of the many places that you must visit while exploring the Olympic Peninsula. The Hoh is gorgeous year round, no matter the weather, granting access to endless mossy trees, towering forests and ferns tall enough to hide elk. The easiest trail to walk is the Hall of Mosses trail, which is less than a mile in length. Short, extremely kid-friendly and always impressive, this trail should be hiked by all. If this is too easy, add on the Spruce Nature Trail at 1.25 miles. This path is like the Hall of Mosses, offering unique rainforest beauty, with small creeks and a chance to stand on the banks of the mighty Hoh River. Those looking to extend their wanderings in the Hoh should head down the Hoh River Trail to at least Mineral Creek Falls. This scenic waterfall is a 10 mile round trip trek, but gets you into the true wilderness of the Hoh River Valley.
In the summer, educational opportunities are daily, thanks to ranger led walks, campfire programs at the campground, and a visitor center to pick up your Junior Ranger badges. Thanks to salmon swimming next to the trail in the milky-blue Hoh River, elk wandering around the huge cedar, fir, and maple trees, the Hoh is an incredible and kid-friendly place to explore and hike.
Hurricane Ridge and Deer Park
Located just 17 miles from Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is a wonderland of ridge lines and sweeping views. In the summer, wildflowers and deer fill the treeless slopes, while views of the Olympic Mountains and the Salish sea are found from a handful of hikes. In the winter months, Hurricane Ridge is a snowshoe and skiers dreamland, making this the perfect year-round destination. Hurricane Ridge is a great place for kids, thanks to the visitor center, miles of hikes for all ages and abilities, and the chance to just wander and explore a mile above the nearby waters. There are even trails here that are fully paved, perfect for strollers!
Three hikes that shouldn’t be missed here are the Cirque Rim, Sunrise Point and Hurricane Hill Trails. The Cirque Rim trail is a half mile in length and fully paved, giving great views and usually full of deer and wildflowers. Sunrise Point is a little less than two miles, giving 360 degree views on this well-maintained trail. Hurricane Hill is great for older kids. At rough 3.5 miles in length, you’ll not only summit a peak with stunning views, but you’ll hike along incredible scenery on a well-maintained trail.
For something a bit more rugged and wild for the older kids, skip Hurricane Ridge and instead head up to the seasonally open Deer Park region of Olympic National Park. Be aware that this road is quite rough. Here, you’ll be able to hike to the tops of mountains with ease. Don’t miss the walk to Maiden Peak for an incredible view of the entire region!
Three Beaches Around LaPush
West of Forks, just off of Highway 101, the small community of LaPush awaits your family hiking adventures. Home to breathtaking beach access, the trails around LaPush and this stretch of the Washington Coast are some of the most incredible stretches of shoreline on the West Coast. There are three beaches in this area that should be explored.
Those looking for easy wanderings among the sea stacks and driftwood should head into the town of LaPush and walk First Beach. For less than a mile, you have a chance to wander along the sandy shores and see the beauty of this coastal community. For even more stunning scenery, head east of town to the Second Beach Trailhead in Olympic National Park. This trail is family-friendly at just 1.4 miles round trip, but expect to spend hours here, thanks to both a gorgeous trail through the woods and one of the most spectacular stretches of sea stacks in America. If this still isn’t enough coast for the family, head to the Mora/Rialto Beach region of Olympic National Park and take the Hole in the Wall Trail. At four miles round trip, this beach hike is amazing in every direction, leading to a sea stack with a hole large enough to drive a bus through.
Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent
The Lake Crescent region of Olympic National Park, located a short drive from Port Angeles on Highway 101, has hikes for all ages of kids and is sure to become a favorite Olympic destination. When exploring Lake Crescent, start at the Lake Crescent Lodge and get the latest trail information. The lodge is located right along the shore of Lake Crescent, where seasonal kayak rentals can be obtained and swimming can be found. Stopping here will also help you decide which of the three local hikes you’ll want to take with the kids.
Those looking for easy walks will enjoy the Spruce Railroad Trail and the hike to Marymere Falls. The trail to Marymere Falls is found near the lodge, making this an easy decision as a must-see hike. At just 1.8 miles round trip, the mostly flat trail packs a lot of scenic beauty. Passing through forests frequented by deer and crossing two great bridges, the trail ends at the pretty Marymere Falls. Once you have hiked here, hop back in the car and drive to the Spruce Railroad Trail. Best started on the eastern side, this eight mile round trip hike doesn’t need to be completed to enjoy the beauty. Most who start from this side will stop at the Devils Punchbowl, about a mile and a half in, a scenic bridge over park of the deep lake, sure to impress kids of any age.
If you are looking for something amazing to hike with older kids around the area, test your mettle at Mount Storm King. Found along the Marymere Falls Trail, Mount Storm King offers amazing views and is a great spot for pictures. This trail is very steep and has some exposure, so it’s best for older kids with hiking and scrambling experience. At 4 miles round trip, the trail gains 2,065 feet in the two miles climbing up.
Found just a short drive west from Port Angeles, the Sol Duc section of Olympic National Park is yet another fantastic place for family-friendly hiking. Known best for the stunning waterfall and relaxing hot springs, Sol Duc is a gem of the Olympics and should be visited and explored when open during the snow-free months. There are three main hiking options here, two of which are perfect day hikes.
Sol Duc Falls is one of the most famous hikes in Olympic National Park and while it can get crowded on weekends in the summer, it is worth the hype. At just over a mile and a half round trip, the trail leading to Sol Duc Falls passes through picturesque forests, over incredible creeks and past an old cabin before reaching the bridge and the falls. Those with older kids, hoping for a longer hike, can also reach Sol Duc Falls from the Lover’s Lane Trail. The path starts at the hot springs and is roughly six miles round trip. This route gives even more views of the Sol Duc River, as well as numerous locations to slowly saunter through the impressive forests.
If you want to experience one of the best backpacking hikes in the Olympics, consider exploring the roughly twenty mile hike that is the Seven Lakes Basin, starting at Sol Duc Falls.