Welcome to the enchanting wilderness of Olympic National Park, a natural wonderland as diverse as it is vast. From towering, ancient rainforests to rugged, unspoiled coastline, and from its majestic, glacier-capped mountains to its serene, alpine lakes, the park promises an unforgettable adventure. This Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary features easy to moderate hikes suitable for most fitness levels.
But what if your adventurous party includes babies and toddlers? Fear not, intrepid parents! While traveling with the youngest explorers may present its unique set of challenges–from nap times to diaper changes in the great outdoors–it also opens up a world of wonder seen through their fresh, curious eyes.
This post will divulge our carefully curated 2-day itinerary for Olympic National Park, ensuring you can navigate the park’s sprawling beauty with ease and peace of mind.
So, strap on those baby carriers, pack those snack-filled backpacks, and join us as we embark on a journey through our Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary.
Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Cascading Waterfalls and Crystal-Clear Lakes
Madison Creek Falls
Start your day with a visit to the magical Madison Creek Falls. It’s an easy, wheelchair/stroller-friendly trail to the cascading falls, making it perfect for little legs as well. The thundering water against a lush green backdrop is sure to kick-start your adventure in the most enchanting way.
When we rounded the corner to spot the dramatic waterfall, it stopped my 2 year old dead in his tracks. He was completely awestruck.
Bathrooms are available at the parking lot.
Next, head over to the shimmering Lake Crescent. Its clear, blue waters nestled amidst towering mountains offer a picture-perfect setting for a family photo-op.
Your next stop is the enchanting Marymere Falls. The trail is just under 2 miles round-trip, with some incline, but manageable for kids. The sight of the 90-foot waterfall plunging into a mossy, fern-laden grotto will leave you spellbound.
Then, enjoy a picnic at the Marymere Falls Trailhead. There’s nothing quite like dining alfresco with the sounds of nature as your soundtrack and lively entertainment from the local squirrels.
If you prefer to explore with a stroller, you can get pretty close to the waterfalls before needing to park your stroller to access the viewpoint of the waterfall. (Just before this skinny bridge that leads to a large staircase.)
Sol Duc Falls and Salmon Cascades
End your day with a visit to the iconic Sol Duc Falls. The roar of the falls echoing through the dense forest is a sound you won’t soon forget.
The trail to Sol Duc was 1.6 miles round trip and would not be stroller friendly at all. There were steep inclines in some sections and a lot of roots jutting out on the trail.
Insider Tip: Bring layers as it gets chilly close to the waterfalls. We were surprised to find snow remained in many areas when we visited late April.
Insider Tip: Make sure to stop at the Salmon Cascades overlook on your way to Sol Duc Falls. You might be lucky enough to see salmon making their incredible journey upstream. The best time to see them is between October and November, but they can often be spotted in April as well. Can you spy the one in this picture?
Dinner at Granny’s
For dinner, head to Granny’s Cafe. Their hearty meals and ice creams are the perfect end to an adventurous day.
Seating was limited but the tables seemed to turn over fast. If you grab take out there is plenty of seating outside as well.
Our kids loved the farm animals out back (goats, emu, chickens, and a cat) and the funky salt and pepper collection.
My son was overexcited about the car salt and pepper shakers at our table and ended up breaking one on accident. They were ultra understanding about it.
Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary
Day 2: Rainforest Wonders and Beachside Bliss
Rise and shine early and head to the enchanting Hoh Rainforest. Arrive before 10am or after 5pm to snag a parking spot otherwise you’ll be sitting in backed up traffic waiting for your turn. As you drive in, watch for Elk.
Your first stop should be the Hall of Mosses, a .8 mile short loop that takes you through a Dr. Seuss-like landscape of moss-draped trees. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of otters in the river. Then, embark on the 1.2 mile Spruce Nature Trail to experience the lush beauty of a temperate rainforest, less foot traffic, and the most tranquil sounds.
Neither of these hikes are stroller friendly.
Make sure to get a park stamp at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center (opens at 10am). Just next to the nature center is where we spotted three Elk. The ranger told us they are spotted here quite frequently in addition to it being a spot to see bear or otters.
Hit the Beach
Next, prepare to be awestruck by the raw beauty of one of the rugged coastline’s many scenic beaches. The top two contenders after enjoying the Hoh Rainforest are: Second Beach and Rialto Beach.
They each have distinct characteristics that make them unique so I’ll lay out the comparison for you to decide which tickles your fancy.
Starting near the small village of La Push, the trail to Second Beach is a moderate 2.1-mile out-and-back route. The hike weaves through a thick rainforest before revealing one of the most scenic displays the Pacific Coast has to offer.
Towering sea stacks and driftwood decorate the shoreline, and at low tide, the beach reveals an array of fascinating tide pools. It’s a playground for curious minds.
Insider tip: Check the tide chart to be sure to time your visit during low tide. When you step out from the trail and onto the beach, veer to the right to find the best tide pools.
The trail does have some challenges. It involves an elevation gain of 310 feet, making it pretty strenuous for young kids or those with mobility issues. You’ll want hiking boots, so toss those sandals in your backpack til you reach the beach! Prepare for mud and mosquitos as well.
Unlike Second Beach, Rialto Beach offers direct car access, making it a more accessible option for families with young children or those with mobility restrictions. Rialto Beach is known for its driftwood-strewn shoreline and the iconic Hole-in-the-Wall, a sea-carved arch that provides a stunning photo opportunity.
While Rialto Beach doesn’t require a hike to access, families looking for a bit of adventure can embark on a 1.5-mile trek to the famous Hole-in-the-Wall, offering a moderate challenge and the reward of breathtaking coastal views.
Choosing between Second Beach and Rialto Beach depends largely on your family’s needs and preferences. If you’re up for a light hike and want to experience spectacular sea stacks and tide pools, Second Beach is a great choice. However, if accessibility is a priority or if you prefer direct beach access with ample opportunities for exploration, Rialto Beach is the way to go.
Forks, Washington, a charming city nestled in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s widely recognized for its connections to the “Twilight” series, which has led to a surge in tourism. Fans often visit the Twilight museum to see original props and costumes, and check out points of interest from the movies. Another unique attraction in Forks, WA is the Tree Root Cave, a fascinating natural spectacle where a special tree grows.
Grab dinner in Forks, WA, where you can find a variety of family-friendly dining options. We enjoyed a laid back meal at Pacifica Pizza – definitely ask for their Twilight Menu for added amusement.
Where to Stay on your Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary
The main areas chosen by visitors who look for easy access to explore the best of Olympic National Park within 2 days are Forks, Port Angeles, and Quinault.
We opted for Port Angeles because of its proximity to 2 of the National Park’s Visitor Centers and we found an affordable, no frills but comfortable motel: the Angeles Motel. Check in was easy, staff was polite and the beds were comfortable. It was all we needed for a sleeping spot after a tiring day of hiking. Plus, just a few blocks away was an awesome playground to tire the kids out before bed.
If you’re staying in Port Angeles, consider making a quick detour to East Beach on your way back from the waterfalls or beach to witness a breathtaking sunset over Lake Crescent.
Add-ons for Your Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary
If you have another day you can add to this Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary, Hurricane Ridge, or the the Devil’s Punchbowl trail and Cape Flattery are worth adding to your itinerary.
Nestled in the heart of Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge is a paradise for families seeking adventure and jaw-dropping panoramic views. Start your day by driving up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. It’s a great place to pick up a map plus a souvenir or two to remember your high-altitude adventures. Make sure to stamp your passport book!
Insider tip: Arrive early to snag a parking spot.
Once you’ve parked and taken in the sweeping vistas from the visitor center, it’s time to lace up those hiking boots and hit the trails. For families with young children or first-time hikers, the 0.5-mile loop trail is perfect. This partially paved trail offers a gentle climb to a 360-degree view that feels like you’re on top of the world. There’s also a short 0.1-mile spur trail leading to Sunrise Point.
For families with older kids looking for a bit more of a challenge, the Hurricane Hill Trail is a fantastic option. This 3.4-mile out-and-back trail offers an elevation gain of less than 1,000 feet, making it a moderate but manageable hike for most. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of the Olympic Mountains, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the park’s resident wildlife.
After a day of exploring, consider having a picnic at one of the many scenic spots around Hurricane Ridge. Nothing beats refueling with a backdrop of towering mountains.
Devil’s Punchbowl Trail
The journey to Devil’s Punchbowl begins on the Spruce Railroad Trail, a well-maintained, unpaved path that meanders along the serene Lake Crescent. The trail is approximately 8 miles round trip and is relatively level, making it accessible for most fitness levels. However, due to its unpaved nature, it might be challenging for strollers.
Halfway through your hike, you’ll encounter the Devil’s Punchbowl – a deep, circular pool carved into the lake by centuries of erosion. Here, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a leap from the cliffs into the refreshing water below. It’s also a great spot to rest, have a picnic, or simply soak in the stunning surroundings.
Unfortunately we couldn’t add the detour to Cape Flattery in our brief 2 day trip, but it is a place worth a return visit.
If you’d like to hike to Cape Flattery, you’ll start your adventure at Neah Bay, home of the Makah Tribe. Here, you’ll need to purchase a Makah Recreation Pass, a small fee that contributes to the preservation of these sacred lands.
The trail to the viewing platform is only 1.5 miles round trip via the short trail.
Cape Flattery is a place of profound natural beauty and cultural significance. It’s here, at the northwestern-most point of the contiguous United States, that you truly feel like you’ve reached the edge of the world. The sheer cliffs, the thunderous waves, and the endless expanse of ocean have a way of putting things in perspective.
Look out across the water, and on a clear day, you’ll see Tatoosh Island and its historic lighthouse standing stoically against the elements.
How to get from Seattle to Olympic National Park
When I started planning our adventure to Olympic National Park, the first logistical hurdle to tackle was how to get to and from the park based on the time of day we’d be traveling.
We landed at SEATAC Airport late at night and picked up our rental car. We wanted the fastest route to our Port Angeles hotel without messing around with Seattle city traffic or ferry schedules. This took us 2 hours, 40 minutes by highway through Tacoma.
On the way back, we gave ourselves a whole day to explore the unique island towns of Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island (keep reading to learn more) and then ride the ferry across the Puget Sound to Seattle’s main docks.
Bonus Content: Things to do between Olympic National Park and Seattle
If you’re heading East from Olympic National Park, towards Seattle, set your map to Poulsbo, a quaint and charming city that’s fondly known as “Little Norway”.
It’s a delightful place to stroll around and take in the traditional Norwegian wooden buildings. Start your day with a carry out coffee and breakfast order from Oxalis Kitchen and enjoy it overlooking the Marina from Liberty Bay Waterfront Park.
The early settlers brought their fishing traditions from the Norwegian Sea, sparking a long tradition of commercial fishing in what is now known as Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. This small city is steeped in rich Norwegian heritage, which is evident in its architecture, culture, and even cuisine. Don’t miss pastry from Sluys Poulsbo Bakery.
Shop for adorable gifts, toys, and apparel at Beachside Boutique, The Curious Child, and Nordiska. I fell in love with these super soft jammies for the kids.
Kids will love the Touch Tank at SEA Discovery Center which has free admission, while donations are encouraged. The Touch Tank had more species than I was used to finding in aquariums, including urchins, anemones, crabs, sea cucumbers, and sea stars. They also had a tank of baby string rays.
Bainbridge Island is home to seven artisan wineries, a thriving arts scene, and a charming downtown area filled with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. We enjoyed our afternoon at Eleven Winery. If you prefer something more hoppy, check out Bainbridge Brewing. Downtown, Harbour Public House, Pegasus Coffee, and Mora Iced Creamery are all kid-friendly gems.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love the island’s numerous parks and trails, perfect for hiking, biking, or just a leisurely walk. The Bloedel Reserve, a beautiful 150-acre forest garden, is well worth a visit for its stunning landscapes and serene atmosphere.
Bainbridge is where you’ll pickup the ferry into Seattle. Give yourself 15 minutes to spare to figure out the traffic flow to board.
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