Photo © Olympic Discovery Trail
Encompassing almost 1,000 square miles of the Olympic Peninsula, the Olympic National Park is large enough to hold a multitude of different environments and landscapes within its borders. An expedition through Olympic National Park can easily create a weekend trip for the whole family.
Start your journey by driving up the peninsula to Port Angeles. As well as a destination in its own right, the town also holds the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Besides the standard information, trip planning and advice, the Visitor Center also has a discovery room for the kids and also presents its award-wining film “Mosaic of Diversity” on request. Once you’ve decided to head out, take a 40-minute trek south for peninsula’s iconic Hurricane Ridge.
Looming over Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge received its name for the thundering storms it hosts during the winter. As your family makes its way up the ridge, you’ll find the rest of the Olympic Peninsula National Park beneath you, creating massive vistas and a perfect spot for a picnic.
After lunch, head west along HWY 101 until you reach Lake Crescent. Untouched by modern development, Lake Crescent still holds the turquoise shade characteristic of undiluted waters. If being on the water kayaking or boating isn’t your first choice, you can still enjoy the lake from the shore. Lake Crescent allows for fishing and also hosts a series of trails along its perimeter. Children will especially enjoy the Spruce Railroad Trail, a four-mile path created from the remnants of an old railroad bed.
The last leg of the journey will be a longer but worthwhile one. Take the highway down through the west coast of the peninsula for the Hoh Rainforest. As a protected temperate rainforests, Hoh is a rarity in the Northern Hemisphere and accentuates the biodiversity of the Olympic National Park. You won’t want to miss the chance to explore this rare biome. When you arrive, take the Hall of Mosses trail. Only about a mile’s trek, the Hall of Mosses takes you through groves of trees shrouded in hanging moss. The effect makes for scenery which sharply contrasts the nearby oceans of evergreen trees.
For more information on the Olympic Peninsula, go to: http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/.