Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

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Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby Andyrunner » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:37 pm

Family and I will be taking a trip next week.

Home bases will be in Port Angles and Packwood. I was able to book two different VRBOs in these areas. We will spend 2-3 days in each park. Does anyone have any advice on hikes/family outings/etc.?

Our kids are 3 and 10 months. So our hiking will be very limited, but we want our kids to get used to the outdoors. We have never been in Washington before so we really have no idea what to expect or quite frankly how to pack!

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby Impromptu » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:47 pm

Near Port Angeles is Hurricane Ridge. Near Packwood is Paradise. These will be your best locations, especially for little kids.
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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby jebmke » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:48 pm

HOH Rainforest on the west side of the peninsula has some fairly easy hikes. As does Dungeness County Park (wooded park that opens up to beach and Dungeness spit.
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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby livesoft » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:56 pm

There is a nature walk at Longmire "Trail of the Shadows" with bubbly springs. Other stuff is there at Longmire, too.

But surely, you have at least looked at what the NPS has:
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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby Andyrunner » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:11 pm

It looks like Ohanapecosh visitor center is about 40 min closer than paradise. Is this one worth stopping at? I'm expecting to get a max of 3 miles out of my older one. Little one will be on a backpack that I hope I can get through an airport.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby iamlucky13 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:38 pm

The Washington Trails Association has a great hiking map here:

Do you know what kind of trail length you're looking for? Will the three year old be in a child carrier or walking?

Weather this time of year is usually chilly in the morning and late evening, and pleasantly warm in the afternoon, but it's not always predictable. You could get a drizzling rain, or you could need sunscreen if you're on trail for a full sunny afternoon. The lakes and rivers will be cold. The kids can still splash in many of them if they want, but don't spend too long. Keep a close eye on them around moving water. It will be moving fast this time of year, and the rocks are slippery.

I spent a lot of time in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (south of Mt. Rainier NP) growing up. Takhalakh Lake and Council Bluffs are both good trails. Takhalakh might still be closed due to a road washout. Great views of Mt. Adams.

In Rainier NP, the main attraction on that side is the Paradise Visitor's Center. You can use the WTA map to browse the numerous trails at or along the road leading to the visitor's center. Aside from the views of Rainier and the other mountains, various trails lead to lakes, waterfalls, rockslides, snowfields or in the late summer wild-flower filled meadows, old growth trees, and more.

Other general popular attractions near Packwood include the Mt. St. Helens visitor's center, and the Ape Caves - old lava tubes, but you have to back track to the Interstate highway to get there from Packwood:

The forests change fairly quickly and significantly if you venture east on Highway 12 over the pass. There's a handful of trails around Nachez if you're curious to experience the difference, but I prefer to stay on the west side of the divide. If it's raining on the west side, however, it might be dry on the east side.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby letsgobobby » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:08 pm

For both locations we had a wet and snowy winter. For example, I'm sure Sunrise at MRNP is still under 8-10 feet of snow. You can drive up there, but nothing will be open and other than messing around on the snow there won't be a lot to see... well, except for that big old mountain in your face!

MRNP: I'd guess the trails around Ohanapecosh will be open now. You should definitely do Grove of the Patriarchs, which is perhaps 1-2 miles roundtrip, flat, and has some of the biggest and oldest trees you'll ever see. This hike tends to have a few mosquitoes as it's on a river bottom but they're not bad. You can also see Silver Falls with a short 1/4 mile walk from the road, and that's nice. I'd spend another full day driving the Stevens Canyon Rd, stopping at Box Canyon for the deep gorge, and enjoying the scenery and drive up to Paradise. Note you should go early in the day, even midweek, because Paradise parking will fill up early. Then spend the afternoon up at Paradise, exploring the trails. Again it will be early for any serious hiking and there will be a lot of snow, but maybe something will be open. Too early for any wildflowers. If no good hikes, from Paradise it is just a 20 minute drive down to Longmire and those trails should have a lot less snow. NB: the Ohanapecosh visitor center has been closed for a couple of years, victim of sequestration. I'm not aware that it's opening this year. It's pretty small. Paradise is definitely worth going to.

ONP: From Port Angeles Hurricane Ridge is the way to go. On the way in you'll pass a fantastic playground on your right which your 3 year old will love. Hurricane Ridge will still have snow. But the views are great. For less snow, head west and hike around Crescent Lake area, and then for something different check out the Elwha river which was recent dedammed. We also like Sol Duc, because there are fancy hot springs with changing rooms and showers etc, for a reasonable fee. There are some other great hikes in the area east of Port Angeles which are really not in the national park but in the forests or national rec areas. I'm not sure how many of them are suitable for young kids but one to check out is the Dungeness Spit. It's 5 miles straight out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and on a sunny day quite spectacular, especially at sunset. There is a lighthouse and a tour at the end but you won't make it out that far. Just enjoy the rocky beach and the views. There are often naturalists in the area to enhance your experience. If you go west past Lake Crescent you'll get into the rain forests. It will be a full day from PA to the Hoh and back, including time for a short hike, and also allowing time for the tidepools and other Pacific Beach sites in the area.

For both parks be prepared for rain or snow or sun. Bring bug spray and water and sunscreen, proper rain gear and lots of warm layers because it is frequently breezy and cold, even in the summer, in these areas. Have fun!

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby 92irish » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:12 pm

In the Olympic NP, the hike to Sol Duc falls is easy for kids. Although the best part is that the hot springs at Sol Duc are really fun for kids. They have some nice pools and an old school national park lodge. I'd put that on my list for the Olympic National Park.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby PNW1 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:33 pm

You've gotten a ton of great advice. I specifically wanted to suggest Silver Falls / Grove of the Patriarchs and Hurricane Ridge, which letsgobobby has already done very well. Growing up in this area, those were frequent hikes when out-of-town relatives were visiting and we wanted something that was enjoyable but not strenuous. Some of my earliest hiking memories are from Silver Falls. My parents instilled a lifelong love of the mountains in me by doing exactly what you're doing.

Adding to what some others have suggested regarding packing... you want layers. Nights and mornings in the mountains are cold even in the summer, but if you have a sunny day and you're walking around carrying a bag up and down even these gentle slopes you'll get warm. Then you'll stop for a while and there'll be a breeze and you'll be perspiring and you maybe get cool again. Layers help you stay comfortable. Since you're talking about simple day hikes you don't need to worry about any specialized clothing, but if I were preparing for a mountain summer day hike with "normal" clothing I'd bring a light t-shirt, a long sleeved buttoned shirt, and a light rain jacket. Tennis/running shoes are fine. Don't wear sandals. Sunscreen and a hat are nice. Bring a backpack to hold that clothing, some sandwiches, and some extra water. Hurricane Ridge has its name for a reason; something that helps you deal with wind can be good up there :)

I like to bring an extra change of socks and an extra set of shoes (or sandals) for wearing once I get back to the car at the end of the hike. It's a little thing, but it can be really nice. Leave some more water in the car for when you get back.

Please don't be scared off by any of what I wrote; if I'm honest with myself I'm asking you to overthink these nice, easy hikes. They're nicer and easier if you're feeling comfortable, though :)

Have a wonderful time!

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby white_water » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:22 pm

If it's raining hard at Port A. maybe take the 3 yr old to the Feiro Marine Life center near the city dock and ferry terminal.
They have touch tanks for kids to interact with durable marine animals.

Another kid suitable exploration short tideland hike is the county park at Salt Creek Recreation Area a bit west of Port A. On a minus tide the beach walk on Cresent Bay is spectacular. INQUIRE first.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby barnaclebob » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:24 pm

Honestly, there is not even 2 days worth of activities at Rainier for the casual outdoor person with kids this time of the year unless you are a backcountry skier, climber, or like hiking on the snow. Paradise currently has 6.5ft of snow still on the ground and I suspect hurricane ridge has plenty of snow as well. OP wont be doing much hiking above tree line with his kids there but it can still be fun to play in the snow in summer. WEAR SUNSCREEN, being in the snow during the summer is somthing like 3X the normal exposure to UV rays from all of the light reflecting off the snow. Grove of the patriarchs is probably a good little low elevation hike in MRNP.

Here is website for the Rainier webcams:
https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/photosmu ... UMP_636381

Your best best this time of the year for outdoor activities in the cascades are to try to hike to some of the lower elevation lakes around Snoqualmie pass, stuff below 4000ft, maybe below 3500ft.

The lower elevation stuff at ONP will be great though. Get the the coast if you can, its well worth it.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby CWhea1775 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:02 pm

The beaches along 101 south of Forks are all easy access and great exploring for kids. An interesting trip is to visit the site of the old Glines Falls dam on the Elwha outside of Port Angeles. Cool overlook and display of the dam removal. You can also visit the new 60 acres of land at the mouth of the Elwha as a Puget Sound/beach side trip.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby texasdiver » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:37 pm

Honestly, with kids that small I'd do the North Cascades loop on Highway 20 and Highway 2 and skip Mt. Rainier. Rent a cabin in Winthrop or perhaps Leavenworth. It's more of a scenic drive but there are all kinds of places to stop and do short hikes in the North Cascades National Park and there will be more reliable trails on the eastern side of the cascades this time of year.

Or Maybe Mt. St. Helens. I think the visitors center is now open for the season.

Mt. Rainier is more where you go for skiing or mountaineering.

The other recommendations for the Olympics are spot-on.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby Porter01 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:51 pm

Second beaches on west side, esp Klalaloch. My kids loved it. How rain forest is great as well. Deep snow shuts down high country.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby MoonOrb » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:21 pm

I was at Mt Rainier a few weeks ago. Grove of the Patriarchs and the Box Canyon hike were both open. I'd do them both, they're pretty easy. Box Canyon especially. Paradise was buried under snow, although it's lovely when it's not (but tedious to park unless you get there early in the day). Drive past Paradise and first do Box Canyon, then do Grove of the Patriarchs. You can get a beautiful view of the mountain along the way in some reflecting lakes.

At Olympic, it's worth the drive to see the beaches: Ruby, Second, etc. I personally also like the Hoh Rainforest area considerably more than Hurricane Ridge. It can feel like a lot of time in the car driving all the way around, though, but that's what you get at Olympic. Sol Duc Falls is a lot closer to Port Angeles and very doable. If I were going to Olympic I'd spend most of my time on the beaches though. Figure out the tide charts and see if you can get there at low tide.

It still winter in the Pacific Northwest. We skip spring here and go right to summer after July 4. I'm only partially kidding. Prepare for it to be chilly and very possibly rainy (it's almost possible for it to be breathtakingly clear and beautiful, and this is much more likely around Mt Rainier than on the Olympic Peninsula). For the Olympics you must have sweaters and a rain jacket. For Mount Rainier you must have a light jacket and a hat and sunscreen.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby letsgobobby » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:48 pm

Want to add that another sight to see at Paradise is the Paradise Inn itself. I believe it turns 100 this summer. It's a beautiful place to have dinner, or just lunch and a beer on the patio or in the great room.

Former superintendent of the park (Floyd Schmoe) wrote a wonderful book called "A Year in Paradise" (orig pub 1959) which is a terrific read and great for a sense of time and place. Not to give much away but before the road to Paradise was kept open in the winter, he skied and snowshowed between Paradise and Longmire at least weekly to keep food and supplies in his winter abode.
Last edited by letsgobobby on Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby Andyrunner » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:01 am

Thanks all for the input. I guess my wife and I were thinking that if its summer in Minnesota, its at least spring everywhere else! At least we prepared and bought two new rain coats!

My wife and I are pretty tough hikers, before kids our vacations were 10-12 mile day hikes at rocky mtn national park. Now with kids its going to be a bit challenging. The 3 year old (almost 4) should be able to hike for a mile or two I would think. The younger one will be in our Dueter Kidcomfort hiking backpack.

Overall it sounds like we are going to be limited on our hiking regardless of kids or not. My other challenge will be dealing with 2 kids in a rental car (plus rental car seats) for 4 hours.

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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby livesoft » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:35 am

If folks can portage canoes, then they can portage kids.
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Re: Olympic NP and Mt Rainier NP

Postby mscout » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:50 am

The Crystal Mountain gondola, scheduled to open 6/23, takes you to 6800' and offers great views of Mt. Rainier and surrounding peaks on nice weather days. https://crystalmountainresort.com/summe ... ola-rides/ Cost is $23/person (adult) and free for children 0-3 years. Another option would be to hike up and pay for the $10 download. There are service roads leading to the summit house and many are south facing and may be snow free. Guest services and/or the website may have more info on the trail conditions after this weekend.

Google Maps indicates it's ~30 miles from the Ohanapecosh Campground to Crystal Mt. (47 minute drive). Enjoy your visit to Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula!

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