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Yearning for adventure and beauty, longing for moment of peace, hoping for a breath of fresh air.
Announcing our 2020 Photography calendars, with stunning photos telling of these incredible precious and fragile places we call the wilderness of the West.
This weekend, Saturday June 13th, is National Get Outdoors Day! All over the country events will take place which will include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more.
At The Outdoor Society we are fully behind every excuse to hit the trails. If you go alone, with your best buddy, your family, or you join any of the nationwide events posted on the website of the American Hiking Association, make sure you get out and hike this weekend!
Below is our list of our favorite, fantastically beautifully, and real-family-tested trails in Western Washington.
From easy hikes for the little ones to some serious challenges for the bigger kids, there is something for everyone. And no, you don’t have to have a family to enjoy those hikes either.
So, what are you waiting for? Find those hiking boats gathering dust in the garage, gear up, check our essentials, and hit the trails this coming weekend and share the love for the great outdoors.
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is just 17 miles south on a breath-taking road leading from one of America’s Best Towns, Port Angeles. It’s a fantastic place no matter what time of year. There’s a simple loop trail right off the parking lot, but we prefer to hike the trail just another short mile west to Hurricane Hill. At Hurricane Ridge and Hurricane Trail, you’re high up, over 5200ft. With spectacular views of the Elwa Valley below you, the Strait of the Juan the Fuca to the North and of course the breath-taking Olympic Mountain range right before your eyes, there are not many trails in America that allow you to experience high-alpine trails and views with such little effort.
Directions: The the Pacific Scenic Byway to Port Angeles on the North side of the Olympic Peninsula. From town follow the signs to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Drive past the Visitor Center and follow the road west to the Hurricane Hill trail head.
The hike to Marymere Falls is a simple road side hike off of Lake Crescent Lodge. Often, the simple things in life are some of the most beautiful; Marymere Falls is no exception. The hike to this 90-foot waterfall is mostly flat through majestic looking trees along a small, but pretty creek. The trail is well-maintained and so perfectly laid out that you will want to hike this area often. This is a great hike to take the little ones.
Directions: Park at Lake Crescent Lodge, just a few miles west of Port Angeles. From the main parking lot follow directions to trail head.
Staircase Loop is our family’s favorite go-to destination when we need to get out in the wilderness, but don’t want to spend a ton of time in the car. The Staircase entrance of the Olympic National Park sits just off of Lake Cushman in the accessible and picturesque Hoodsport region in the South-East corner of the Olympic Peninsula.
A 4-mile loop trail alongside the gorgeous and wild Skokomish River represents everything you expect from a National Park experience. Camping and picnic spots right off the often overflowing parking lot make this a fantastic all day experience. Capped off with a perfect, stable and safe suspension bridge this loop hike is amazing year-round.
Directions: Head to Hoodsport along the Hood Canal along the Pacific Coast Byway. From town follow signs to National Park entrance.
If the Staircase parking lot is full, why not opt for Big Creek? With a great loop through cascading creeks and small moss-banked waterfalls, this trail never fails to disappoint year-round. With a connecting trail to mountain goat filled, panoramic summit of Mount Ellinor, you can choose just how impressive of a day you want. Kids of all ages will love the rocks and trees, making this a perfect place to explore off the trail.
Directions: Head to Hoodsport along the Hood Canal along the Pacific Coast Byway. From town follow signs to National Park entrance, before you reach Staircase the Big Creek campground is on your right.
Mount Rose is a smaller peak in the Olympic Range, measuring at 4,300ft in elevation. What makes this trail interesting is the 3,500ft of elevation gain over 3.2 miles. Mount Rose has just the right mix of physical challenge, combined with a well-maintained and safe trail. For the most gentle incline to the summit, choose the path to the right at the fork and enjoy hiking along the ridge over the Skokomish River Valley below.
Directions: Head to Hoodsport along the Hood Canal along the Pacific Coast Byway. From town follow signs to National Park entrance, before you reach Staircase the Mount Rose trailhead parking lots is on your right.
Beyond the Quinault Lodge lies the entrance to the Enchanted Valley. The wilderness hike to Pony Bridge shares the same trail to the Enchanted Valley and it already feels magical in the first few few miles of the trail. The gorge and the wooden Pony Bridge is what you want to see, as it serves as a gateway to the more remote stretches of the Quinault Rainforest. Year round, Pony Bridge is phenomenal and is home to one of the most picturesque bridges in the Olympic National Park.
Directions: Full directions and description available here.
Near the Lake Quinault Lodge is the Loop trail to a Cedar bog and Cascade Falls. This loop is 3.9 miles, and is perfect to get to know the area. Close to amenities and with options to cut the hike shorter, this loop trail gets you to towering cedar trees, beautiful creeks and a gorgeous little waterfall surrounded by deep green mosses, ferns and trees. The loop trail puts you on a half-mile Rainforest Nature Trail that is a fantastic destination to let little kids experience the rainforest.
Directions: From Aberdeen/Hoquiam head north along 101 towards Forks. Lake Quinault Lodge is by Amanda Park. Follow signs to Park entrance.
At 6,400 ft, Sunrise Visitor Center sits higher than the incredibly popular Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. Paradise is where most pictures are taken, as there is a lodge, it is open year round, and the gift shop is bigger. Sunrise is closed most of the Winter due to snow but is about to open for the Summer season. Check for updated information on the NPS website. Everyone I’ve met that has been to Sunrise tells me it’s one of their favorite spots on Mount Rainier, and I agree. It feels otherworldly. Breath-taking views of the mountain and incredible trails through wildflower meadows you really can’t go wrong any way you turn. Our family loves the hike to Dege Peak. From the Visitor Center you first hike away from Mount Rainier but the view from the top of Dege Peak is worth every step you take.
Directions: Access Sunrise via SR 410 from Enumclaw, WA.
Mount Townsend, just off of Quilcene is a serious hike. At 8 miles, and over 3,000ft. of elevation with a alpine peak at 6260ft. this mountain offers breathtaking views of the entire North-East corner of the Peninsula, including incredible views of the city Seattle and the Cascade range in the backdrop.
Directions: Full directions and trip report here.
Another great destination for the little ones is Tolmie State Park, just outside Olympia, Washington State’s capital city. Near the town of Lacey hides this fun, little-known State Park. Easy to access from the I-5 freeway Tolmie boasts a great little beach, a few fantastic family-friendly trails in the woods, as well as on clear days a stunning view of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics in the distance. Watch for birds, look for salamanders and enjoy the Puget Sound, just a few minutes from the freeway.
Directions: Take the Marvin Rd. exit in Lacey, WA and follow signs to park.