Hikes With Kids In Olympic National Park: The Staircase Loop
When friends are looking for a great hike to do with our kids within a few hours of Seattle, we always suggest the same one. Staircase in Olympic National Park. It is one of the most kid-friendly hikes we have been on (we’ll be the first to admit, we have A LOT more to explore on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington) since moving to the Pacific Northwest. Our kids love it and it is typically accessible all year round. And upon returning from Ireland, getting out into nature is exactly what the doctor ordered to help all of us beat the post-travel blues.
Hikes with Kids: The Highlights of Staircase
This trail is the perfect length and difficulty for hiking with kids and adults of all ages and skills. Clocking in at about 2.2 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain, it is an easy distance for kids to master, while getting to totally soak up the epic views and natural wonders Staircase provides. Seriously, this is one of those hikes that as soon as you start, you’ll find yourself completely immersed in the beauty of your surroundings.
From the first few steps into the woods, you’ll immediately find yourself in groves of massive cedars, including a quick spur trail to see a fallen giant. Be sure to take this little side trail and attempt to count the rings of this humungous tree!
As the trail rolls along, you’ll find mossy outcroppings and picturesque stopping points to enjoy the views of the rapids of the Skokomish River. The trail continues to not disappoint, providing one of the more iconic views approximately 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead. You will find a giant rock on the right side, with a small tree growing out from the top. It is amazing to see how the roots cover the rocks. No matter when you visit and hike this trail, it is truly a sight to behold. (Side note: I’m purposely not sharing a picture of the rock + trees, because dudes, you need to see it yourself!)
As you continue up the river, you’ll eventually get to the Staircase Loop Bridge, built in 2013, which replaces the old bridge that washed away in the 1990s. It reminds me of a bridge we cross on a regular basis, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It provides epic views of the Upper Skokomish River. Stop and enjoy a picnic on the opposite side of the bridge or just soak up the views. For real, they are jaw dropping.
After you cross the bridge, you’ll enter the portion of the trail that follows an old Forest Service road that was taken out in the 1970s. You’ll cross through meadows and little streams, including a few fun footbridges. Of course, this is the highlight for our kids. Who doesn’t love a bridge that is essentially just an epic balance beam?
The trail meanders around a bit more before you climb up and down to get back to the Ranger’s Station. You’ll find another picnic area on the banks of the river, grill grates included – it’s the best spot to stop and whip up a quick lunch before climbing back in the car and heading on to your next adventure.
Getting To Staircase
Staircase is relatively easy to access, it is about an hour from Port Angeles, Washington or 2 hours from Olympia, Washington. The roads up to Staircase sometimes are closed due to unfavorable weather, but we have yet to have any issues.
You will need to purchase a National Park Pass or a day pass to enter the park. The Washington Trail Association does a great job of breaking down your pass options and provides links to grab any of the passes you might need.
We find most of our hikes while skimming through our trusty copy of Day Hiking the Olympic Peninsula. You seriously need a copy – not only will you be inspired, but you’ll find a whole slew of ideas for your next Olympic National Park hiking adventure. Our kids’ goal? To check off as many as we can each year. We love scouring it for options for more kid friendly hikes.
Where do you love to hike? What are your must do hikes with kids in your neck of the woods? We’re always up for an adventure, and finding new places to hike is high on our list of ways to see the world with our kids.