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I had high expectations for our family hiking trip to Olympic National Park. With so much to see between the mountains, beaches and rainforests, I knew that we would absolutely love visiting Olympic with kids.
Our mission was simple. Hike as much as absolutely possible with our kids, and soak in every bit of the natural diversity here. Truthfully, we were blown away by how beautiful everything is and how great the hikes for kids in Olympic are.
When Is the Best Time To Visit Olympic National Park With Kids?
July and August are the best months to visit Olympic National Park with kids. The weather is a bit warmer and a little bit drier. June and September are close behind that, but you’ll find colder temperatures and more rain in Washington then.
- When Is the Best Time To Visit Olympic National Park With Kids?
- Weather in Olympic National Park
- What To Pack For Hiking in Olympic National Park
- Is Olympic National Park Kid Friendly?
- Where to hike in Olympic National Park With Kids
- Best Kid Friendly Hikes In The Hoh
- Best Hikes with Kids Near Sol Duc Hot Springs
- Best Hikes at Hurricane Ridge for Kids
- Best Hikes For Kids At Crescent Lake
- Best Hikes With Kids at Kalaloch
- Best Hikes With Kids at Quinault
- Which Rainforest Is Better? Quinault or The Hoh?
- Where To Camp Around Olympic National Park With Kids
- Best Books For Kids About Olympic National Park
Weather in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park receives more rainfall than any other national park in the United States. The park is hugely diverse, encompassing temperate rainforest, alpine mountains, and coastal areas. The Hoh section of Olympic National Park receives more than 12 feet of rain annually, and it rains more days than it doesn’t, so plan on getting wet on your trip. Additionally, the weather is often colder to accompany that rain.
During our visit in June, we didn’t see temperatures above 50 degrees and the lows were in the 30’s – this is normal weather for Olympic National Park hiking trails in June. In July and August, it rains less and temperatures can get up into the 70’s, but still be prepared for lots of overcast weather and always be prepared for rain while hiking in Olympic National Park.
What To Pack For Hiking in Olympic National Park
After visiting nearly 20 National Parks in the United States, I felt like we were prepared for whatever we would encounter on our west coast road trip. Even though we followed all the advice that we regulary share with others about how to pack and dress for family adventures, we still found ourselves unprepared. A few emergency pieces of gear were purchased, and we quickly learned that what to pack for Olympic National Park is very different than what to pack for most national parks.
Check out our article on Olympic National Park packing essentials.
Waterproof Hiking Shoes
These are an absolute necessity. Even if it’s not raining while you’re hiking in Olympic, there will still be mud and water in many places along the trail. Check out our review of the top kids hiking shoes to find hiking shoe options that work well for your kids.
Waterproof Rain Jackets
Make sure to pack waterproof rain jackets for everyone in the family. In fact, if you’re hiking with kids in Olympic, consider getting the younger kids these full body rain suits, and the older kids rain jackets and rain pants. These are our favorite rain suits for kids, kids rain jackets, and kids rain pants for hiking.
Merino Wool Socks
Even with waterproof hiking shoes, your feet will still get a little wet. Merino wool works amazingly well when wet since it wicks moisture away from your skin and insulates even when wet. These are an absolute must for packing for a visit to Olympic National Park. Check out the best kids wool hiking socks.
Is Olympic National Park Kid Friendly?
If you have kids who love to explore and play in nature, Olympic National Park is very kid friendly. Kids will love seeing the giant foliage, exploring the rainforest trails, and will absolutely love the kid friendly beaches at Olympic National Park.
Where to hike in Olympic National Park With Kids
Olympic National Park has several different areas to hike in which are all incredibly diverse. To really appreciate what the park has to offer, we recommend doing at least one hike in each of these hiking areas of Olympic National Park:
The Hoh Rainforest
Best Kid Friendly Hikes In The Hoh
Hall of Mosses
Length: 0.8 miles
The Hall of Mosses is a nice short hike in Olympic National Park that’s great for hiking with kids in The Hoh. The trail is very well maintained and has much less mud on it than the Spruces trail. The trail is a lollipop style where you go out and back on the same spur and hike a loop in between. The loop is a one way trail that showcases some of the best mossy trees in the area and also has lot of educational signs along the way so you’ll know what you’re seeing. It’s a short and simple hike that’s also probably the most popular hike in The Hoh.
Spruce Nature Trail
Length: 1.2 Miles
Right next to the Hall of Mosses is the Spruce Nature Trail which I think is the best hiking trail for kids in The Hoh area of Olympic National Park. While this hike is barely longer than the Hall of Mosses, it is for some reason less crowded. We actually like the Spruce Trail more than the Hall of Mosses because the undergrowth was so much more impressive here. Along the trail, you’ll walk beside ferns that are taller than the kids, and we actually saw more moss here than at the Hall of Mosses. My favorite part of this trail was that it goes out to The Hoh River, so you can enjoy some absolutely stunning views from there.
Hoh River Trail
Length: 18 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
The Hoh River Trail sounds intimidating with the entire length of 18 miles, but you can really make this trail as long or short as you want since it’s just an out and back trail. This is the least crowded trail in The Hoh, and is great for hiking with kids in Olympic National Park, even if you just do a couple of miles out and back. The trail eventually leads to the glacier which is the reason that the water in The Hoh River is such a beautiful color. Most of the trail goes along the river and offers the most beautiful combination of rain forest and mountain views that I’ve ever seen. If you want to beat the crowds at The Hoh and experience some solitude, plan on hiking The Hoh River Trail.
Best Hikes with Kids Near Sol Duc Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a unique area of Olympic National Park to hike with kids, check out Sol Duc Hot Springs. The hot springs resort is a fun way to splash around for a couple of hours, and is a great way to warm up if the weather is cold and rainy (which it often is here). Adults cost $15, children cost $12. There are three hot springs pools, that are more like giant hot tubs (only about 3.5 feet deep and with a witting ledge along the perimeter), as well as a regular swimming pool. A swim in Sol Duc Hot Springs with kids is a great way to start the day, or also a fun way to wrap up a day of hiking.
Sol Duc Falls
Length: 0.8 miles one way, 1.6 miles round trip
The Sol Duc Falls is one of the most beautiful hikes in Olympic National Park for kids. The trail is 0.8 miles each way out to the falls and is a realtively easy trail. This is the most heavily used trail in this section on Olympic National Park, though it less crowded than other areas of the park. Along the hike to Sol Duc Falls with kids, you’ll pass several small streams, a beautiful cascade, and even a hut for shelter from the rain. This is my personal choice for the best waterfalls in Olympic National Park.
The hike culminates as you cross the bridge directly over Sol Duc Falls. You’ll know that you’re getting close to the falls since you can hear the roar of the water echoing through the canyon. From the bridge, there are several viewpoints where you can view Sol Duc Falls from multiple angles. This is one of the best easy hikes in Olympic National Park.
Length: 3.9 miles each way, 7.8 miles round trip
The Deer Lake Trail is the other trail that we recommend when hiking with older kids around Sol Duc Falls. It begins at the Sol Duc Falls trailhead and continues past the waterfall for just over 3 miles. The trail is just as beautiful as the beginning of the Sol Duc Falls trail, though with more difficulty. The trail climbs steadily for 3 miles as it switchbacks up the mountain towards Deer Lake. Most of the trail is quite rocky, though with time, it can easily be accomplished. We hiked the Deer Lake trail with kids ages 4, 7, 9, 11, and 14. After encountering some heavy rain on the hike up, a few of the kids opted to turn around at mile 3 with me, while our 9 and 14 year old kids completed the hike with Dad.
This is a good Olympic National Park day hike to do with teens and older kids who like the challenge of hiking along rocks and don’t mind a good uphill climb. With it’s longer distance, this is one of the best day hikes in Olympic National Park with kids if you want more mileage.
If you want to do a shorter version of this hike, at about 1 mile pas Sol Duc Falls, you will encounter another major bridge and tall waterfall. This is an incredibly scenic area and also makes a great turn around spot if you want a shorter hike.
NOTE: This trail goes alongside some small streams for most of the trip. During rainstorms, this causes the trail to be incredibly wet and in places to have its own small river flowing directly down the trail. Waterproof hiking shoes are important for this hike, as is a good rain jacket and insulating layers. When we hiked the trail (in what rangers tell us are pretty standard conditions), we hiked for 4 hours, and three of those were in the rain with temperatures below 50 degrees F.
Best Hikes at Hurricane Ridge for Kids
Distance: 1.6 miles Each way, 3.2 miles total
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
If you’re looking for an easy hike near Hurricane Ridge, this is our top pick. For some stunning views of all the mountains in Olympic Park, you’ll want to take the hike out to Hurricane Hill. The trailhead starts just 1.5 miles past the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center and is absolutely beautiful. The entire trail is 3.2 miles in total, and is paved the whole way.
While you could technically push a stroller or take a wheelchair on this trail, after the first 0.5 miles there are some pretty good hills so that might be a bit of a challenge. This is a great hike to get kids excited about the huge mountains all around them. On our hike we saw several marmots, some deer, and though we missed it, some hikers ahead of us saw a black bear walking through a meadow in the valley below. We saw amazing views as we were driving up to the hike, but thick clouds rolled in for most of our hike blocking most of our views. The exciting part is that we literally got to hike in the clouds for most of the hike. In early season (we hiked in June), expect to find some snow on the trail, but the trail is still passable and a great hike for kids.
Best Hikes For Kids At Crescent Lake
Distance: 1.7 Miles Round Trip
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
If you’re looking for kid friendly hiking trails near Crescent Lake, you need to check out Marymere Falls. This popular Olympic hiking trail is great for hiking with kids since it’s so short and most of the hike is pretty easy. Most of the trail is relatively flat until the end when you have about 200 feet of stairs to climb to reach the falls. This is a great family waterfall hike in Olympic National Park, so even if you’re just driving through the area, it’s worth stopping. This is another one of the best easy hikes in Olympic National Park.
Best Hikes With Kids at Kalaloch
Distance: 1 Mile
Ruby Beach is the best beach hike in Olympic National Park for kids. Accessed by a short walk down a paved trail from the parking lot, the beach is rugged and wild, yet surprisingly kid friendly. The coastline here is filled with driftwood and smooth rocks, both of which are sure to keep your kids entertained for hours. As the tide goes in and out on this family friendly hike, the area can change dramatically giving you more or less access to the sea stacks that Ruby Beach hiking is known for. Note: Even though this is a beach hike, you’re hiking along round rocks most of the way, so sturdy shoes are still recommended.
Best Hikes With Kids at Quinault
Quinault Nature Trail
Distance: 0.9 mile Loop
Located just outside of Olympic National Park, this family friendly rainforest hike is the perfect place to explore with kids. The entire loop is just under a mile and is really easy. A lot of the hike is along boardwalks and there are informative signs all along the path to teach you about what you are seeing. This was the best rainforest hike for beginners at Olympic National Park since it introduced our kids to what they would be seeing as we continued on into more Olympic National Park kid friendly hikes. This is the best Olympic National Forest hike for kids.
Which Rainforest Is Better? Quinault or The Hoh?
Quinault is a rainforest that’s dominated by cedars, while The Hoh is dominated by big spruces. Both are spectacular, though the foliage and ferns were bigger in Hoh. The trade off is that Hoh rainforest is incredibly crowded, whereas when we were hiking in Quinault, we only saw a few people the entire time.
Where To Camp Around Olympic National Park With Kids
If you’re visiting Olympic National Park with kids, I can’t recommend enough that you stay in more than one place since the park is very spread out. The best areas to stay in are around Port Angeles/Crescent Lake and the Forks area. Below we’re sharing the best campground around Olympic National park.
We were visiting with our 26 foot camper trailer and found that it was difficult to plan for a camping trip in Olympic National Park since many of the campgrounds are first come first served or only accommodate small trailers. Here are the places that we stayed on our trip, all of which allowed us to make advance reservations.
Hard Rain Cafe: Right outside of The Hoh entrance. It’s pretty bare bones, but the location was hard to beat. We had water and electric hookups and there were a couple of clean bathrooms with showers as well. This location gave us easy access to The Hoh as well as Kalaloch.
Sol Duc Hot Springs: There are a handful of RV camping spots that can be reserved at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Truthfully, I was really disappointed by this Olympic National Park RV area. It was basically a large parking lot with electric and water hook ups, and we were right next to our neighbors. The location was great, but the camping area was disappointing. Next time, I would choose to stay in their regular campground, not the RV area, since it was much nicer there.
Port Angeles KOA: We stayed here for just one night, but were really impressed. A nice campground that’s only a short drive to get back into Olympic. There was a playground, a small pool, and even little pedal cars for the kids. As a bonus, the wifi was pretty good at this park, so we could catch up on some work while we were camping here (my husband and I both work remotely, so when we take extended trips like this, we still have days where we work as we travel).
Best Books For Kids About Olympic National Park
This book is a great little notebook and is really affordable. I highly recommend grabbing this if you have kids who are old enough to write so they can record their adventures here.
I’ll admit, my kids were really attracted to this book because it talks about poop, but it’s actually really cute and educational too. The book follows two kids as they explore Olympic National Park and teaches about the animals in the park and how to identify them by their scat. One of the best kids books about Olympic National Park.
Another book inspired by potty humor, this book is geared towards younger kids and is actually really cute. It’s a good book to teach kids about animals, and also really engaging since it keeps kids guessing what butt they’re looking at.
We’ve had this book for years (an older edition) and it’s one of our family favorites. If you want your kids to learn about National Parks all across the country, this is a must buy book. A great Olympic National Park book for kids to introduce them to the park.
This coloring book features Olympic National Park as well as all the other parks in the US, and is a great one to bring along on your travels. If you’re wanting to visit a lot of US National Parks with kids, this is a great book to have and let your kids color each parks page after you visit.