Staircase#8 in Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park
Price & Hours
Staircase, located in the southeastern corner of Olympic National Park, is dominated by enormous Douglas firs. You'll find a variety of hiking trails along the Skokomish River and the nearby forests. The Staircase Rapids Loop Trail is an easy 2-mile path that leads visitors through old-growth forest to a bridge over the North Fork Skokomish River, with only a 200-foot elevation gain. A spur trail leads to a huge fallen cedar. There's also the flat Shady Lane Trail, which measures less than a mile and takes visitors to Lake Cushman. If you're looking for more of a challenge, consider the 7½-mile hike to Flapjack Lakes, which boasts a 3,000-foot elevation.
Several recent visitors said the short trails were great for beginners and families with young kids. If you're visiting in summer, several reviewers also recommended bringing your swimsuit to take advantage of several swimming spots along the trails.
Access to the area is included in park admission. Staircase is about a one-hour drive north of Olympia and two hours south of Port Angeles. There's a ranger station that is open in summer (when staffing allows) with information, exhibits, wilderness permits, bear canisters and maps. You'll find a campground here as well. The access road to the Staircase area is unpaved is sometimes closed due to hazardous weather conditions, such as snow. Make sure to check the park's website to check the road's current status.
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#1 Hoh Rain Forest
With an annual rainfall ranging from 140 to 170 inches, the Hoh Rain Forest is a lush, green wonderland, with mosses and ferns covering every tree and surface. According to the NPS, it is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular spots to visit. One visitor described walking in the forest as a "Hansel and Gretel-type of feeling" while another likened it to a fairy tale enchanted forest.
Most travelers begin at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, which is staffed with rangers who can offer advice on what to see and do. The visitor center also houses exhibits and a bookstore. Two short nature trails loop through the forest near the center, the Hall of Mosses Trail (.8 miles) and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). If you're up to the challenge, there is also a 17-mile trail that leads to Glacier Meadows, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus, called the Hoh River Trail.
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