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If you’re lucky enough to live in the beautiful state of Washington, you are (hopefully) taking advantage of all the outdoor explorations it has to offer! Even if you are just visiting we have four trips (day trip, hikes and weekend getaways) you’re sure to love.
I know. When I first heard this trail’s name in November 2015 I thought….this is a joke. But nope, it was extremely real and set me up for years full of expectations that hiking meant ‘death to a hangover’ haha!
It actually isn’t named after the #2 but it references steam whistle sounds from logging days in the 70s. This trail is 7.2 miles, roundtrip, and 2021 feet at the highest point. It was a fairly narrow trail but very busy. We didn’t have a dog yet but it was leashed-dog friendly with some beautiful lookout points as you near the top.
I hope you get a beautifully clear day like we had so you’ll likely see the launching pad used by paragliders which was a great spot to sit down for a quick break. There’s also an expansive view northwest toward Issaquah and Bellevue. To the west are Squak and Cougar Mountains, with a hint of Seattle’s tallest buildings showing beyond.
You’ll cross several small bridges, creeks and I remember it being very steep. Once you put in the hard work of getting up you will experience less elevation gain and get those views. Keep that in mind while working your way up!
Lion King moment with our friend’s dog.
Tiger Mountain Viewpoint
After a few hours on the mountain, head back down and enjoy sitting in the car for 20 minutes to another vastly popular area: Snoqualmie Falls. Both Poo Poo Point and Snoqualmie have free parking and are usually filled with visitors. They are worth at least one visit so don’t let that deter you!
Snoqualmie Falls is the most famous waterfall in WA state. It is 268 feet high with the width ranging from 50 to 150 feet, depending on water levels. It’s beautiful and gives you Pocahontas jumping off the waterfall vibes. Who DOESN’T want that?! I also took my girlfriends here when they came to visit for a weekend in Seattle.
It’s easy to navigate the short nature trails and there are paved trails above if you prefer to stay on level, easily accessible ground. I recommend taking a few minutes to walk to the base for another view that offers a boardwalk and boulder hopping should you want to hop out there….or apparently grab a drink of cold water.
Afterward you can stop in their gift shop for some delicious and famous waffle/pancake mix but we were always able to find it in the grocery stores like Safeway. If you’re hungry (we were STARVING) you can drive into Issaquah (about 20 minutes driving) and fill up with burgers and beers at Rogue Ales Issaquah Brewhouse.
A pinnacle of the Olympic Peninsula, Ruby Beach will not disappoint. Even in December!
We first went to Ruby Beach with my mom and sister on December 18, 2016 (thanks, Facebook) and had a fantastic time. We were able to take our dog on a leash and it was a special trip because it was the first time my husband and dog saw the Pacific Ocean.
The second time we were near this area was my all-time favorite trip ever backpacking and camping around the Olympic Peninsula. If you have time I recommend doing this trip! The beach was cold with the wind coming off the ocean but it amazes families daily and always attracts visitors to stop their car and explore.
The beach is a short walk down from the parking lot and you could do a short stroll or spend a long afternoon here. We probably spent two hours walking the beach, taking photos, exploring small caves, collecting pebbles and navigating the driftwood.
When we decided to come back up we definitely noticed the tide had come in more which left us jumping over larger areas of water and warming up in the car. As you can tell this beach, like many in the PNW, is entirely made of pebbles so wearing tennis shoes or hiking boots is recommended. The last thing you want is a rock stuck in your flip flop or a kid with a twisted ankle! This beach was gorgeous on an overcast day and the pictures of the spring and summer days prove it’s a great day trip year-round.
Okay. I’m done. Mount Si (pronounced sigh) was our last big hike we did before leaving Washington. As any other Sunday we headed out on July 8, 2018 around 11 a.m. to climb a mountain.
From a previous hike at Rattlesnake Ledge, another must do!, we had seen and heard all the rave about Mount Si. Si is in the Snoqualmie Area and is 8 miles round-trip. As far as elevation goes you’ll get a gain of 3,150 ft in under four miles. The highest point is 3,900 ft. From using our WTA app I found out this mountain was very important to the Snoqualmie people.
“In the legends of the Snoqualmie people, Mount Si was the body of the moon, fallen to earth through the trickery of the fox and the blue jay.”
This was a dog-friendly hike so we were taking our German Shepherd/Saluki Mix, Argo, and Drew’s pack. It was the ideal hiking day; maybe even a little too hot: Clear and 72 degrees. As soon as we got near the infamous peak and sheer edges were showing off for us. It’s intimidating to view this driving in but soooo satisfying when you’re driving away. Feeling like a badass=addicting.
It’s important to note that they have a parking lot but you might find it difficult to find a spot. If it’s a great day expect to create a spot like we (and many others) did. They also have a bus option to shuttle in and out if you don’t want to bother driving. They also have bathrooms and a water spout at the trailhead.
On the way up you have an opportunity to learn about the Snag Flat and how the mountain survived logging, mining, fires, and other natural causes. The trail you walk actually was once a 4×4 track.
By the time we started our hike up it was 12:45 p.m. With a few stops to enjoy the view, catch my breath and dog breaks we reached the top at 1510 (or 3:10 p.m.)
From the top we could see beautiful Mount Rainier, Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle, and the Olympics. If you look down and around you you can also see small wildlife.
We took turns holding the dog while the other navigated through jagged rocks to climb even further to the peak. If you’re able, go a little bit further up. The view changes with every few feet and you get closer and closer to a 360 view. The true summit is called Haystack.
In early spring, climbers getting ready for Rainier come here with weighted packs. Conventional wisdom says if they can reach the end of the trail in under two hours, they’re ready to conquer the state’s tallest peak.
The top is mostly rocks so don’t expect shade for your lunch or snack break. I recommend lots of water, a hat and crouching down under the tree or large rocks you’ll find for shade.
We started heading down at 3:45 p.m. and were back in the truck by 5:30 p.m. I remember how much my knees HURT so wearing proper hiking gear, layers and good boots will make a world of difference. No, we never used poles.
Not only was it a steep and slightly challenging hike there were a lot of people on the trail (100,000 per year hike this trail) and I was at the battle of some health issues that would last a few months. But, as with all of our hikes, I was impressed that I was capable of handling something like that in good time and the view is always worth it.
Don’t let this scare you away though! Novice hikers are just as welcome and enjoy it just as much. We had so many friends who denied (and continue to deny) exploring the areas we live in. If you just get out and try you will be in awe. You have no idea what you’re missing until you go see it for yourself.
***We had a few GoPro pictures and videos on our GoPro but my husband’s computer is currently down and out. I have borrowed photos from online users and credited the owners in captions. Enjoy!
So you’re looking for a dog friendly, family friendly, quick hike with a waterfall view. Can you get it all?
If you live in or near the Puget Sound, yes you can!
This was our first hike of 2018 and we met up with another friend couple of ours. If you’ve read any of our other hiking blogs like this or this you will know that we loved using the Trailblazer app while hiking in Washington state. It will give you trail updates and info like needing a Discover Pass.
Photo by nitalong
Want to read about trips or hikes we take? Need help planning your next adventure? Make sure you’re subscribed to the site and like us on FB and IG so you never miss a thing.
You can also read more under the Passport section of the blog.
Winter in the #PNW is almost constant rain which made the trail super muddy. Dogs are allowed on leash so I walked him and my husband wore a heavy pack with a large kettle bell for added weight to practice.
Roundtrip this trail was 6.5 miles. The muddy trail made for some slipping around and tricky to navigate in some parts but there were other couples walking/running and families biking the trail. It is a dirt and gravel trail in some places but there were some wooden handrails and signs.
It might be worth noting that this trail is near a gun range. While you are a safe distance away from the range and in the Capitol State Forest, it’s important to stay on the trail!
Photo by Holly Jean
We have also been to the gun range to shoot targets before and enjoyed it. Of course it will be cheaper to bring your own ammo. We only tried out the pistol range but they had a section for skeet and trap shooting.
Near the end of the trail you will hear the waterfall before you see it. You will see it from the side and can walk from the edge of the creek to the top of the fall. No, it isn’t like Multnomah but it’s still as beautiful to be naturally occurring.
Photo by Paige Goot
I always look for hikes that have a waterfall or a view. No matter the distance it’s always the best payoff!
Photo by audg86
We didn’t have any problem with elevation gain (about 600 feet) and would definitely call this a beginner or intermediate trail. If this is your first hike ever, your first hike of the year or you’re looking for something simple to stay active, this is definitely recommended by us!
You can check out the stats on the app or ask us any questions you have in the comments section.
Summers are for camping, beaches and time with your friends. If you can fit them all in the same weekend, even better!
Westport is known for it’s miles of sandy, public beaches, boardwalk with stores and plenty to eat and drink and a casual weekend for anyone wanting to drive out to the beach. They allow dogs on their beaches and you can take the truck or 4WD on the sand.
From Lacey to Westport it was only 1.5 drive. It takes you through Aberdeen, known as the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula (Which we camped through a few weeks ago. Most incredible trip ever; check it out here!) It is also famous for being the birthplace/hometown of Kurt Cobain.
Shortly after we met our friends at Westport Winery. You’ll see it on your right and just keep a look out for the lighthouse. They have a small, gated dog play area with water and a bench. They have outdoor games and you can go inside to order beer or wine and shop around. They also had basic food and snacks available. After a few hours we walked around the gardens to view their plants, flowers and themed set up.
It was a quick 12 minute drive from the winery to Twin Harbors State Park for us to get our site set up in the daylight. The entrance fee is minimal and you just keep the ticket in your car window. We had two lots across the street from each other and were located right next to the bathhouse, trash dumpster and water spout which was super convenient.
The campsite is popular and fills fast so get your reservations in early! If you can’t find anything there are at least two more campgrounds in the same area.
The first thing we did when we got there was walk a short distance to the back of the campground and get beach access. From tents to sand it was about a ten minute walk. It’s a small, single path clearance that’s a little rough so wear your shoes. You will come out of the woods and climb a short hill to the top of the sand dune for the best, expansive view ever!
After setting up camp we started up the fire and heated up our pre-made meals. I went on Pinterest to find easy dinner meals. We were in charge of dinner and had loaded fries (or tots) and foil wrapped meals followed by s’mores with Reese’s. If you haven’t done this then GET ON IT! It’s a game changer.
The next day I woke up super early thanks to my dog and caught the most gorgeous pink, orange and ethereal sunrise ever. I had the entire beach to myself and had left my phone at camp and it’s one of my favorite memories to think back on. We heated up a campfire breakfast prepared by our friends and spent the morning playing in the water, walking around the exposed dunes and down the beach.
That afternoon we packed up and went downtown to walk the boardwalk, around the lighthouses and get a view of Ocean Shores. If you’re hungry you need to stop into Aloha Alabama for savory BBQ twists and a dog friendly patio. We also grabbed ice cream at Pickaroon Pelican.
We had a few more photos and videos on the GoPro but due to a hard drive crash they’re currently unavailable. Thank goodness for Instagram!
Once we got home from our overnight trip, we noticed when we got home that Argo’s paws were raw and sore from the hot sandy beach so we tried Vaseline and taping a sock to keep him from licking it off. Just a heads up if your pup has sensitive paws!
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In April 2016 we adopted a German Shepherd/Saluki/Mutt mix from Iran with a cute face, floppy ears and a super soft coat. We named him Argo (like the movie with Iran & America.) On June 22, 2018 he turned THREE! Yes, this is a little crazy but if you knew him you would agree this is a miracle. (A reminder to get good identifying photos of your pet in case they are ever lost.)
We knew we wanted to bring him on hikes with us but you’ve got to find ones where dogs are allowed. We also use a harness instead of a leash so it doesn’t pull on his neck.
We hiked Rainbow Falls State Park on May 28, 2016 and found it on the Washington Trails Association Trailblazer App. If you’re near the Puget Sound looking for a quick day hike, horse trail, camping or a softball field then check this out. It was overcast so I don’t know what views you could see but the trail would have been well-shaded. Parking was also easy to find and a Discover Pass is required.
This trail was short and sweet at three miles roundtrip. It was well-maintained with a few trees and obstacles to navigate but ended with an awesome “waterfall” aka raging river.
There were several birds but no sign of wildlife. The trees and nature in this area was fun to look at and comparable to more well-known areas we had visited before. This won’t be difficult but it also won’t have a HUGE payoff except for some enjoyable exercise and easy-to-explore outdoors.
We were able to climb around on the rocks and get near the water. Most people were looking around but a few were fishing.
Overall I think this is a good hike for visiting family, children and dogs. If you’re wanting to get away this was also a nearby location with a city down the road and basic amenities near your site.
Oh yeah…did you pick up the content guide that just came out? Grab it here.
When Argo ripped out of his third, padlocked kennel, resulting in stitches and hundreds of dollars in vet visits (GOOD THING HE’S CUTE), we had a few hours to kill before picking him back up. About thirty minutes from home is a small Nisqually River Delta visible from the highway, accessible through the underpass. They don’t allow dogs so it made sense we would check it out.
There are plenty of signs and maps posted to help you understand what is around you.
Open field next to the path
There always seems to be a cool trunk or tree on any walk we’re on.
There were several families and couples there looking for a leisurely walk through some surprisingly pretty nature trails. You drive in to the visitor center and there are several volunteers committed to teaching people about the protected estuary and refuge.
Something we learned (copied/paraphrased from their website):
The Nisqually River Delta, a biologically rich and diverse area at the southern end of Puget Sound, supports a variety of habitats. Here, the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus.
These nutrients support a web of sea life – the benefits of which extend throughout Puget Sound and beyond. While most major estuaries in the state have been filled, dredged, or developed, Nisqually River’s has been set aside for wildlife. In 1974, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the delta and its diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwestand an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound.
..And it’s right next to the highway. Pretty cool, right? If you were looking for summer ideas for kiddos this could make for a great few hours.
This won’t expose you to any type of ‘wilderness’ you’d find on other hikes but it’s an extremely easy way to get into nature and learn about what’s around you;undisturbed. The boardwalks and well-maintained trails take you through creeks, streams, trees, moss and overhangs.
There are some old, white barns simply called the ‘Twin Barns’ next to the trail loop and you can walk around the observation area.
There is a long boardwalk that takes you out over the water and there are a few bird-watching shelters along the way. There were lots of birds, crabs, fish and small wildlife while we were out. We were trying to look over the trees for eagles but I don’t believe we saw any.
If nothing else, this is a perfect little walk to get outside and learn a little more about where we live. You also get the chance to support the volunteers and efforts of the refuge. If you have family visiting, this is great for all ages and capabilities. Check out their online platforms if you have any more questions.
Oh yeah, before I forget.
Come July I will be sending out a complete guide on content for personal or business brands…and it’s F.R.E.E! Make sure you’re following this blog (button is on the right if you need to double-check) because that’s the only way you’ll see it.
In only five miles and at about 2,000 feet up, you’ll be at one of the most popular, beautiful and unique outlooks in Washington. Plus you can do it all with your four-legged hiking buddy!
Rattlesnake Ledge is popular because it is relatively easy, well-maintained for all types of families, it’s easy to get to in the Snoqualmie Region and the lookout surrounds you in open air, mountain-side and views of Cedar River, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake.
But it also has a grim history we weren’t aware of before making the climb.
Since 2009 there have been at least five deaths, some accidents and some suicides. When we reached the top you can stand on the edge of steep and abrupt drop-offs. Walking out toward the boulders there are usually groups of people sitting for a break, eating lunch or taking IG worthy pictures. To get to the lower rocks or many of the edges you have to be careful and jump over varying crevaces and gaps in the rocks. The rounded and jagged edges are what make this hike beautifully unique but also dangerous.
Use caution if hiking with dogs or young kids. Also be aware of weather conditions as the rocks can get wet, icy and slippery quickly.
Please use this to be aware of what to expect but don’t keep it from you missing out! Having said that, let me use this as a place to remember and document this perfect day.
Where you’re about to climb up to
Rattlesnake Lake and Ledge
It was sunny, warm with a cold breeze; ideal for any weekend warrior. We had heard of this hike from several local friends and frequent suggestions on the Washington Trails App. We drove out October 29, 2017 (Thanks for tagging the date, Instagram!)
It was a short walk from the parking lot (you don’t need a pass or money to park) and you pass through Rattlesnake Lake’s beach. There were boulders, trees and leveled off stumps that made for fun photos.
Trying to get Argo to climb up.
As we started hiking through the old and new growth, we noticed it wasn’t near as thick as some of the forests we had walked through. A majority of the people who bring their pets will have them off-leash which is frustrating on narrow paths or for other dog owners but a majority of them are understanding and good owners. We only had one man who was pretty rude about his dog.
Be respectful that not everyone wants a dog in their face, in their kid’s snacks or near their own leashed dog. It sets back training and behavior even though we’ve been working with him and a trainer for a while.
This hike is relatively short but dangdo you climb. The switchbacks are many and while it’s well-maintained don’t expect handrails or guard fences. It’s a very loose trail rule that you let the people coming up to ‘keep working’ and if you’re descending you step to the side. As being someone who has done both, we usually try to move over with our dog or whoever finds a clearing first. It’s nice to catch your breath for a second on your way up, too.
I am super curious on if you’ve heard this or how you handle passing people on a narrow path. Please share your advice in the comments!
Because the forest is fairly thin there are several spots to look through the trees and see your progress. The entire Snoqualmie area is stunning so make sure to look up while hiking. I keep reminding myself on any trip up a mountain and it’s the main reason our time is slow sometimes (hehe). Watch your step and be careful but don’t forget to take some breaks to look around.
Dropoff at the top of Rattlesnake Hike.
“Everything the light touches”
Have to hold him close at the edge.
As you break up top you see an opening on the left. There are several people who check out the trees and homes next to the highway we came off of. It’s a VERY. STEEP and abrupt drop off but only a few more feet up a small hill and you’re at the top of Rattlesnake’s sheer drop off.
We were able to find a few open paths to head off to the right and a man offered to take our photo.
The walk down was like many: Long and short steps with braced knees and a pretty sunset by the time you’re out at the bottom. There are some portable restrooms and several signs with maps. It’s built out and you’ll probably see some engagement or other photos being taken nearby. Look on Instagram or a Google search to see some BEAUTIFUL photos and drone footage!
Let me know if you take this hike. It’s a Must-Do while you’re here.
Cheers to adventure!
Psssttt…It’s almost July which means my FREE content guide will come out soon! Make sure you’re following this blog (button on the right) so you don’t miss out.
For the last three years, Drew and I are lucky enough to live hours away from the most beautiful sprawling combination of ecosystems in the world. We’ve frequented nearby day hikes but having the time to travel and stay in the area gives you an entirely different experience. You have gorgeous, clear views of the Olympic Mountains, old-growth rain forests, the Pacific Ocean and natural wildlife.
A Few Tips Before We Get Started:
If you are within driving distance, know that we came from the South entrance near Aberdeen so our timeline will be simple to follow. If you’re flying into SeaTac you will need to rent a car and make sure to hit up Seattle while you’re nearby. (Stay tuned for some Seattle posts by following this blog.)
We used the four-day Memorial Weekend and it wasn’t as crazy-packed as we thought it would be. Keep in mind summer is the peak traveling season for this area because of the great weather and conditions so plan accordingly and be patient.
While it will be sunny and hot, you are in the PNW and on the coast which serves for freezing water and frigid breezes, night time is consistently cold, too. You will be near several fairly developed towns to refresh items but it’s mostly wilderness and nature which makes the views that much better! Bring lots of layers, pack food and plan on starting fires during the evening.
Through this post, I’m including times so you can get an idea of true-driving time and estimate how long you’ll spend at each location. Feel free to use the same outline for your own trip, if you’d like. It also might be helpful for tides and high traffic times. I hope this helps!
HI.KING.BOOTS.Really good hiking boots. They’re a must. I wear Salomon’s with a gel arch insert and I was still feeling sore in my feet after this. We covered well over 30-40 miles on our feet over several terrains and tennis shoes just wouldn’t cut it.
I got these on sale a few years ago at REI so if you have time, look around to get a discount.
Backpack. Even if you’re not backpacking, carrying in a small pack of snacks, map, layers and water will make the trip more enjoyable.
I wear a Camelbak with a built-in hydration pack. I usually carry 20-30 pounds if it’s full. Drew carries a Mystery Ranch larger pack with usually around 30-40 pounds. He loves his because he also uses it for work.
Bring cash. Many campsites only accept cash or check and there won’t be a front desk to run a transaction. If you’re using a card and coming from out of state you’ll want to have a back up in case it’s denied. Don’t forget to notify your bank of travel plans.
Discover Pass/Park Pass. Military get the pass for free; see if you’re eligible. There are several places to buy in person or you can pre-order and have it mailed.
The annual pass is $35. If you purchase this you get unlimited access and would save about $20 for this trip. Lots of options just look at the website to decide what you want to do.
Otherwise plan on paying $25/car/entrance. They prefer debit or credit cards at the gate unless you have exact change.
Trailblazer App. We use the free Trailblazer app by Washington Trails Association (WTA) in the app store for our hikes. You can search for criteria, length, trail closures or updates, etc. Hikers also leave reviews and post photos which is extremely helpful the closer you get to your planned hike. Download it for your trip or if you live here!
Let’s Get Started
Many of the areas allowed on-leash dogs but you were restricted from bringing them to lookouts or trails in several locations if they weren’t banned completely. For this reason, we took our dog to a boarding kennel on Friday morning. From Yelm to Quinalt it was just over a three hour drive.
Welcome to Aberdeen, home of Kurt Cobain
Lake Quinalt Lodge
View over Kalaloch Beach next to Kalaloch Lodge.
Our campsite at Kalaloch Campground
You have neighbors but feel like you’re in the middle of the woods
Driftwood and fallen trees are on every beach and make for fun climbing.
We stopped at the Quinalt Ranger Station which is right next to the Lake Quinalt Lodge. It was a historic-looking lodge and I’ve seen them offer discounts or complimentary rooms for military. We drove through the Quinalt Indian Reservation and arrived at Kalaloch Lodge at 2:30 p.m. You can pull over here to grab food or spend the night in their cabins. It offers an outlook of the beach for anyone just wanting to step out for a look. We weren’t planning on camping here since it’s first come first serve but if you drive over to the board you can see which lots are available, choose an empty lot and pay for your stay. We had a lot which was next to the beach and the restrooms. We were shielded from wind but still walked over to watch the sunset.
Kalaloch Beach is popular for it’s Tree Root Cave aka Tree of Life. Take the steps down to the beach, turn right and walk a few hundred feet. Keep an eye on the right and you’ll see it along the bank. You can climb over driftwood and walk inside the shallow cave to look at the roots and layers of rock.
This beach is also near Ruby Beach which we had visited in December a few years ago. Beautiful views that you should check out if you haven’t been before!
We walked through the really fine sand for a while during low tide and saw many rocks, wood, crabs and tidepools filled with tiny creatures. During the summer, the sun doesn’t set until about 9 p.m. and even after it stays bright for a while. We setup camp, grilled hot dogs, s’mores, trail beer and a cigar from my husband’s collection. The sunset was gorgeous and it’s awesome to be the last ones in the U.S. to see it go down.
While we didn’t see any whales during this trip, keep your eye on the horizon and in the waves for blowholes and whales. People standing where we were earlier in the day saw a few!
TIP: Whale season is winter and early spring but summer has brought us some luck on the coast.
We didn’t set alarms during the trip but woke up at 7:30 each morning. We made a campfire to heat up pre-made breakfast burritos and walked to the beach for a last look before breaking down camp.
TIP: Breakfast burritos were awesome sources of protein, filling and delicious with taco sauce! Mine were wrapped in foil and the tortilla would stick when heated up. I would wrap them in wax paper and foil, freeze, let cool in cooler and before you heat them up remove wax paper. This might help.
Driving into the Olympic National Park
Five Mile Island. Our view of the Hoh River.
Five Mile Island. Our view of the Hoh River. The trees to the right is where we saw the baby deer come out to graze.
Five Mile Island.
My first MRE. His millionth.
Hiking the Hoh River Trail.
We left Kalaloch Campground at 10:20 a.m. and an hour along the coastline to the Hoh Rainforest which felt like a long, winding drive until we reached the entrance of the Olympic National Park. At 11:40 a.m. we were parked at the overflow lot next to the Hoh Rainforest’s Visitor Center. This was one of the busiest areas we had hiked up here since it’s easy for families and offers longer backcountry hikes for the adventurous.
I really wish we could have spent more time here to make it to Glacier Meadows and summit Mt. Olympus. We warmed up on the Hall of Mosses before heading out on the Hoh River Trail. We had a fairly easy trek out to Five Mile Island with a few elevation gains and minor obstacles. We stopped for a break at a waterfall on the way in where we climbed to the top for a quick snack.
During the hike there are a few chances to step out on the river and get a view of the Olympics. We didn’t see any large wildlife but made noise and conversation as we walked since you are in cougar and bear country. They have been spotted so the easiest way to avoid surprise is calling out or clapping now and then. It is a popular trail. Once we made it to Five Mile, I ate my first MRE next to the Hoh River. The edge of the river was filling up with campers settling in for the night but no one noticed a baby deer who came out to the meadow to graze.
Hiking to Five Mile Island and back is 10.6 round trip, added with Hall of Mosses we went a total of 11.5 miles in 4 hours 20 minutes. This was mostly taking pictures and stopping to look at the scenery but we keep a pretty good pace throughout.
When we got back to our car there was an elk just across the field who came out to graze. We left the Hoh and drove to Forks, WA. Forks recent claim to fame has been the Twilight novels and movies and there were lists of filming locations along with numerous shops and signs designated to them. We even got a radio station named Twilight. There’s a grocery store on the edge of town where we grabbed a few things then arrived at the perfectly secluded camping area, Last Chance Campground. Veronica owns the green pasture along with some chickens and horses we woke up to each morning. It had a port-a-pot, lots of space and running water for simple things like rinsing dishes or washing hands. There’s a wild elk herd that comes onto and nearby the campground so you will get plenty of close-ups of them. We also saw several bald eagles flying and perching in the trees.
View from our Forks campsite, Last Chance Campground
View from our Forks campsite, Last Chance Campground. The wild elk herd.
Our Forks campsite, Last Chance Campground.
This campsite is minutes from the highway and within 30-40 minutes of all hikes and beaches we planned on seeing for the next two days. Watching the sunset in this little valley next to the mountains was beautiful. The moon was so bright it drowned out the stars but s’mores with Reeses tasted just as good! I prepped meat for walking tacos with chip snack bags which were the perfect meal after a long day of hiking.
We woke up to chickens, birds and a bright, hot sun. The elk herd was at the fenceline looking at me as I stepped out of the tent. Veronica gives you lots of free firewood so we were able to keep morning and evening fires going, no problem. Kalaloch had a grate over their firepit but luckily we had brought our own grate from our firepit. I warmed up cinnamon rolls in a pie tin, breakfast burritos, jetboil coffee and some watermelon. We saw an eagle fly overhead while eating and it landed in a tree above the elk herd. A baby elk yelled out and it was the coolest experience to be in the middle of it all like that.
At 10 a.m. we left for the iconic Rialto beach. We got there just before the scheduled high tide at noon so it was fairly simple to find a parking spot.
TIP: Make sure to check the tides before you go or else some locations will be impassable.
This is all rocks so definitely wear your walking shoes and pack flip flops if you’d like. It’s 1.5 mile hike out to Hole-in-the-Wall but you’ll see lots of cool rocks, driftwood, fallen trees, campers and hikers along the way.
We sat down on some fallen trees right in front of the rock formations to air out our shoes (those waves will sneak up on ya) and have a snack. I believe the rock formation was Cake Island. While we were there we saw eagles, a sea otter, lots of birds/ducks and a seal! By the time we got back to the truck it was PACKED. If you’re able to go earlier to avoid the crowds, I would suggest it.
There were lots of leashed dogs allowed here, in case you were wanting to bring your pup along.
We left at 2 p.m. for Second Beach and arrived there at 2:30 p.m. It’s out on a two-lane road so your best best is the overflow parking at the top of the hill (you’ll see a sign). The regular lot was full but it does drive through to overflow, heads up if you decide to check them out. Just allow a few minutes to look and take the first open spot you see. It’s a novice hike, about two miles in, with a few steep inclines and switchbacks but I saw so many people do this, you’ll be more than fine.
It’s the best beach we’ve been to here so highly recommend this is a must-see for you!
The hike through the forest is standard PNW but you will hear the ocean as you get closer before you see it. As you breakout on the ridge you catch a glimpse through the trees then the base of the trail opens into an arched entry to the beach, perfectly merging the ecosystems together like a dream. We loved this beach because the only way to get there and see it is a hike. You also have to climb and jump over a wide area of driftwood to get to the sand. The water was freezing. We saw tons of hermit crabs, urchins, and anemones in the tide pools and tons of eagles in the sky flying mainland to the Crying Lady rock and islands.
Hike down to Second Beach
End of the hiking trail. This is the driftwood you have to climb across to get to the Beach.
Second Beach. Drew walking through the rocks and tidepools.
This beach was covered in really fine, soft sand and it was huge! There are lots of campers and visitors on this beach but it’s very expansive so you’ll have a lot of space to play or walk around.
We ended up climbing up a smaller looking Crying Lady rock (maybe 50 feet tall?)
Second Beach (this is the rockstack we climbed up.)
We climbed up on one of the rock stacks to get a better view.
Second Beach, on top of the rock we climbed.
We hiked back up to the truck at 5 p.m. ready to try out a restaurant Veronica had told us about. She said ‘a restaurant’ and it was clear there was only one when we got into La Push. The tribes have a strong presence in these areas and there are several signs with their language, images and historical markers to represent them.
View from the Rivers Edge. Quileute River.
View from the Rivers Edge. Quileute River. We saw tons of wildlife here all fighting over fish and just moving around!
We ate at the Rivers Edge and were amazed at how much wildlife we saw in the span of a few minutes. We watched sea lions and seals catch and eat fish by slapping them against the water. Each time they did this, seagulls and birds would flock over to try and mooch off them. Fisherman would throw their chum in the water and the animals would go NUTS trying get a piece of the meat. That’s when the eagles would swoop down and catch the fish with their talons. It was the best dinner show we’ve ever seen! The food was fresh but don’t expect five-star service here…it’s a small fishing and lumber town, they have their own ways 😉
That night at 7 p.m. we stopped at their creek store for some ice and goodies. They had several paintings and totem poles here and was one of the more convenient options before you drive back into Forks from the North.
Four days?! Yep, we like getting a lot done on our trips and filling our days while we’re at places. This was Memorial Day Monday so we were going to head up North to close out the loop of what we’ve seen before and hit some old favorites. By this day my sunburn was hurting very bad (LOL) even though I continually put on sunscreen. siigghhhh, cue ‘That’s Life’ song.
Three nights, four days of camping and backpacking…
We heated up the usual cinnamon rolls, breakfast burritos, instant coffee and cleaned up camp. We were out at 10 a.m. heading north toward Lake Crescent. It took us about 40 minutes to get there. I really wanted to visit the Sol-Duc Falls & Hot Springs but that would require more time than we had. The highway drives you along the lake for miles and seeing the blue of the water and the tall mountains around it is serene. This is another popular area for water sports, hikers and vacationers. There’s lots to see including parts of the Discovery Trail, PCT and the Lake Crescent Lodge. We did a short, easy almost two mile hike to Marymere Falls. This waterfall was easy to get to and offers a great view that would be occurring whether people are looking or not.
Drew catching my athletic abilities..
I would have loved to do the Storm King hike that you access from this trail but we had other hiking plans for the day. We already talked about going up another time.
We took the end of the trail to the Lake Crescent Lodge which we were so glad we did because of the history. The lobby, bar and screened in porch have a quaint lodge feel with the historical colonial-style cabins lining up the sidewalk. While there we found out the lodge was built in 1915 as one of the first buildings in the Olympic National Park. Franklin D. Roosevelt stayed there and discussed the proposed Olympic National Park with Park Service and Forest Service advisors. Following his tour of the Peninsula, the President signed authorization for the creation of Olympic National Park in 1938. We found all this out from photos in the lobby but you can get more history here.
Lake Crescent view from the lodge.
Lake Crescent Lodge
After all the walking around it was 12:40 when we got back to the truck and a quick 20 minute drive over to Port Angeles. We had been to Port Angeles two years ago when Drew’s family visited. We drove up for a day trip to go whale watching and ate at the Next Door GastroPub before heading to Hurricane Ridge and back home.
The next summer Drew and I took the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles during sunset and saw several whales pop up.
This time Drew and I decided to go back up to Hurricane Ridge hoping for a clearer day
(It seems that there are always clouds in the mountains but the weather has always been different when we break above them. No matter what, drive up!)
Hurricane Ridge outlook
Hurricane Hill hike.
Our last visit was during July so we were sort of surprised to see snow up there during May. It was covering many of the paths we hiked last time. You are high up and it’s named ‘Hurricane’ because of the wind so wear something warm, no matter the time of year. Deer walk freely around the parking lot and trails. This is an area you can have dogs at one lookout next to the Visitor’s Center but not at the Northern lookout point. We heard a few disappointed visitors so if you did bring your dog I would suggest finding a playdate/daycare for the day. The trails are simple but do get a little steep. You can get to several points for valleys, meadows, to view Canada and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
TIP: I did get Canadian roaming charges and you can pick up Canadian radio stations so if you’re worried then put your phone on Airplane mode.
During this trip, Drew and I looked out and saw some amazing ridge trails. We decided to go check it out and found the Hurricane Hill Trail. Drive to the back of the Visitor’s Center and there is a very narrow, no guard rail, winding road about one mile to the trail entrance. We had to find a spot in the overflow lot but it was 1/4 mile walk so nothing awful. We wore our packs and you will be working so we wore minimal layers. Hurricane Hill might be one of my favorite hikes and it’s definitely in our Top Five.
On the peak of Hurricane Hill hike
It’s 3.2 miles roundtrip but our GPS told us we walked about 4 miles in 1.5 hours. It was a gorgeous day, well-maintained trail with some snow to easily navigate over and lots of people. We saw several deer and chipmunks on our way up and I spotted a black bear in the meadow across the valley where we were headed (he was gone by the time we were going back down.)
At the peak we noticed several marmots and you can hear them squealing. From a distance this does look like you’re on a narrow ridge, making for steep views and great perspective photos but you never feel like you’re in trouble up top. We stopped a lot for photos and just to look at different areas the farther along we hiked in.
Hurricane Hill Summit
While most hikes in the PNW have you going through deep forest switchbacks, this was a gravel and dirt path and you’re out in the open for nearly all of it. When at the top you’ll definitely be throwing on your coat but sit on the outcrops to look down at PA, across the Strait at Canada or over the range and down at a further river trail.
It’s breathtaking. This isn’t so steep that it kills your knees on the way down but another hike that will be more comfortable with proper shoes. If you have kids or just wanted to get out for a view you can always go out part of the way before heading back in.
We had to go back to the Next Door Gastropub for ole times sake and, even though it was super busy, we waited thirty minutes to sit down and we’re glad we did. We got a few local beers, Tiger eings (small but SO good!) then burgers and fries we long-awaited all weekend. We judge places based on their fries and Next Door ranks in our Top List for Washington. (Wow. Huge honor, right?!)
We had enough sun to drive back home to Olympia/Lacey and went through Hoodsport as we had a million times. There are lots of hikes here if you’re looking for a place to stop and visit. We always end Hoodsport hikes at the Hoodsport Coffee Company to treat yo’self with coffee and/or ice cream before heading back. There were also Orcas reported in the Hood Canal recently but we didn’t spot any during our drive.
That was our 4-day weekend trip exploring the Olympic Peninsula! It is such a unique experience to be around people who are there to enjoy the scenery and adventurous nature of the upper left corner. If you have kids (maybe middle school or above?) they would easily be able to navigate these hikes but we saw everyone from toddlers to elders in walkers getting out to explore.
Nearly everything was free. We filled up gas one time and besides food and drink, didn’t pay a thing for any other activities making this a super valuable low-cost trip for couples or families.
We’ve lived here for three years and are sad to go. Although we’ve used every available weekend to explore the area there is always more to do. Every single day here leaves me grateful and I hope my friends and family get to experience it. I hope this gave you insight for your trip and please let me know if you have any comments or questions. Let me know what you think!