Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Family Travel: Olympic National Park Part 1: Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Valley

*Activities in this post are suitable for healthy individuals from 2 years old to 70 years old.  We did backpack carry our 2 year old in a Tula carrier at times on the hikes.  We travelled from our rental home on Lake Sutherland. 

Day 2:  Exploring Lake Crescent & Hurricane Ridge, 
Our little hikers - Brian (2) and Alex (2) 
Cousins enjoying the Lake Pleasant area
We began our day with a hike to Marymere Falls, near Lake Crescent  This was a 1.8 mile out and back trail through the forest to a waterfall, which our family greatly enjoyed.  It is mostly flat,  except the final part where you climb some steep steps to view the waterfall. Our 2 year old walked most of the first half himself (0.8miles), and then we put him in the backpack carrier before climbing up the steps.  The other kids (4,5,10) and the grandparents had no problem hiking this. 
After our hike, we went to the Lake Crescent lodge where we enjoyed a nice lunch. The view from the restaurant was beautiful, though I did not get a picture of it :).  The service was a bit slow - but the kids were entertained with coloring pages and crayons. We enjoyed our fish and chips and salmon. 
with Grandpa at Lake Crescent
Coloring while waiting for their food at Lake Crescent Lodge
Our next adventure was visiting Hurricane Ridge (about 20 miles / 40 minutes from Port Angeles).  We were lucky, as the weather was clear and sunny when we visited in late June.  We drove up to the visitor center, and walked Cirque Rim Trail (0.75 mile) trail (starts in west end of parking lot) where we saw many deer and saw a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and other mountains. The kids (we're from Southern California and Arizona) were fascinated by the snow remaining at the high elevation.
After this, we drove about 5 minutes further to the Hurricane Hill Trail. We walked for about 20 minutes and enjoyed the scenery, before turning back.  We were warmed that there would be a "very very steep hill, hard to carry child up hill", but either the trail was redirected (we did see a big trail but access was blocked), or we didn't make it that far.  Nonetheless, we still enjoyed the sites from this trail as well as the wildflowers (lupines, avalanche lilies).

ONP Day 2 Recommendations:
- Kid friendly hikes in the Lake Crescent/ Pork Angeles area:  Marymere Falls (1.8 mile walk with 90 foot slope to reach falls. We did not have time for the following: Madison Falls (5 min short walk - we didn't have time to visit), Moments in Time (near Lake Crescent lodge), and Spruce Railroad trail (closed during our visit).
- Kid friendly hikes in Hurricane Ridge area:  Big Meadow Trail is a short loop in open meadow with wildflowers. Cirque Rim Trail is a 0.75 mile trail that starts in west end of parking lot, intersects High RIdge trail with views of Strait of Juan de Fuca and other mountains.  Hurricane Hill Trail is family friendly until you reach a steep hill (we did not make it to this - full trail is 3.2miles roundtrip) 
- Dining options:  Lake Crescent Lodge (dining with view, $$$),  Granny's Cafe ($$) -Indian Valley Motel 235471 Hwy 101 W, Port Angeles WA 9836, 
- Cooking options:  Safeway in Port Angeles,  Dungeness crabs (see next post) 

Day 3:  Sol Duc Valley:  Salmon Cascades, Sol Duc Falls, Sol Duc River

We spent this day exploring Sol Duc Valley, which was about a 45 minute drive from our rental home on Lake Sutherland.   Our first stop was at the Salmon Cascades (parking on the roadside, on the way to Sol Duc Falls) where we walked a short trail to the viewing platform and then wandered down a dirt path to the riverbank. 
After Salmon Cascades, we drove to the Sol Duc Falls Trailhead. The Sol Duc falls trail is a 1.7 mile out and back trail, rated as moderate.  Our family did not have any difficulty on this trail,  and our 2 year old hiked 1 mile on his own, and we backpack carried him when his little legs needed a break.   This hike brought us through an old growth forest to a beautiful three prong waterfall.  There is a wooden platform at the end of the trail where we could sit, take a break and enjoy the falls! 
We asked the ranger how we might be able to get closer to the Sol Duc River and she gave us a tip. She recommended that we drive to the nearby campsite and there we could find a small trail leading through the woods to a rocky riverbank.  Although this is not an "official stop/ vista", our family loved ending the day by the water - skipping rocks. Of course our 2 year old could not resist getting his feet (and eventually legs) all wet, and ended up pantless. Parents must watch children carefully near the river as the current did seem to move quickly.
ONP Day 3 Recommendations:
-  Information about Sol Duc from TripAdvisor Destination Expert- visit link: Kaleberg 
-  Kid Friendly hikes in Sol Duc Valley: Salmon Cascades (short walk, viewpoint), Sol Duc Falls 1.6 miles with 300 ft elevation gain.  We did not do the Ancient Groves Trailhead - 0.6 mile loop trail through old douglas firs covered with moss, lichen, and sword ferns on the forest floor (we visited Hoh rainforest the next day).  
- Sol Duc River Access: we followed the advice of the ranger and parked in the campground near Sol Duc Falls trailhead near campsite 14 (I think?) where we were able to cut through to the river without disturbing any campers.   

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