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Olympic Peninsula, Wa

5 Hikes for the Weekend: Staircase, Olympic National Park

 

The crowds flock to Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc and the Hoh rainforest, but tucked away in the Southeast corner of the Olympic National Park, Staircase offers some amazing experiences. With mountains, rapids, the Skokomish River and moss-covered old growth forests, the Staircase Region is a perfect slice of Olympic Peninsula beauty.

 

Named for a cedar staircase that was built in 1890 by the expedition led by Lt. O’Neil, the Staircase region of the Olympic National Park is wilderness at its best. The staircase, usually an odd thing to build in nature, was the only route to get on top of a bluff near the location of the present day Shady lane Bridges. While the staircase no longer exists, the name stuck and today we know Staircase as a place of beauty.

 

With numerous trails, Staircase is close enough to Olympia and Seattle to make any of the following hikes a nice day hike option. Some are more difficult, while others are easy and family-friendly. If you are looking for a place to rediscover nature and to start enjoying hiking, Staircase offers some awesome hikes. We give you our five favorite, but these are just the start!

 

Map from the National Park Service

Map from the National Park Service

 

HIKES IN THE OLYMPIC NATION PARK’S STAIRCASE REGION

Wagonwheel Lake

Wagonwheel Lake

Wagonwheel Lake

 

WHY?

Wagonwheel Lake is brutal, and one of the steepest trails in the Olympic National Park. That being said, the hike is quite enjoyable and shows hikers just how rugged the terrain in this park can be. While the lake itself isn’t amazing, it is home to bobcats, as well as deer and an occasional elk. Hike up here, sweat a ton and enjoy knowing you rocked a difficult trail. For an added bonus, check out Cub Peak just 3/10ths of a mile from the lake. Cub Peak: http://bit.ly/1fCeocj

Who: Moderate Hikers looking for a challenge

Distance: 6 Miles Round Trip

Directions: http://goo.gl/maps/BiMH4

 

 

Flapjack Lakes

Flapjack Lakes

Flapjack Lakes

 

WHY?

Flapjack Lakes are smallish lakes, but are gorgeous due to the fact that the views of the little-talked about Sawtooth Range of the Olympics are seen. The views, during the right lighting and seasons can be breathtaking. If you are lucky, the wind will be calm, the bugs will be low, and you will be able to see a perfect reflection of these seasonally-popular lakes. There is also a pretty rad waterfall near the lakes!

Who: Advanced Hikers

Distance: 15 Miles Round Trip

Directions: http://goo.gl/maps/BiMH4

 

 

4 Stream

The North Fork of the Skokomish River

The North Fork of the Skokomish River

 

WHY?

Exploring past the Staircase Rapids Loop Bridge is awesome, and 4 Stream is a great way to start going further upstream on a beautiful Olympic National Park River. With huge cedar forests and a pretty cascading stream meeting the North Fork of the Skokomish River, the trail to 4 Stream lets you escape into wilderness, while still being close to your car.

Who: BEGINNING HIKERS

Distance: 4.2 Miles Round Trip

Directions: http://goo.gl/maps/G3D77

 

 

Staircase Rapids Loop

Staircase Rapids

Staircase Rapids

 

WHY?

Staircase Rapids Loop trail is an excellent year round hike for the entire family. This loop, now completed with a new bridge, offers a leisurely walk along the Skokomish River. Walking under the canopy of cedar and fir trees that tower above you, Staircase gives you a walk that (like most of the Olympic Peninsula) is timeless. Staircase is a great hike for beginners and out of town guests.

Who: ALL AGES AND SKILLS

Distance: 2.2 Miles Round Trip

Directions: http://goo.gl/maps/G3D77

 

 

Shady Lane

Shady Lane Trail

Shady Lane Trail

 

WHY?

Shady Lane is a perfect, short day hike that offers views of Cub Peak, Mount Rose and the North Fork of the Skokomish River. While not extremely popular, this short, easy trail goes through some awesome moss-covered forests. With a few cool bridges, logged areas and an abandoned mine along the trail, the Shady Lane trail is also historical. For added excitement, see how far you can walk along the river!

Who: ALL AGES AND SKILLS

Distance: 1.5 Miles Round Trip

Directions: http://goo.gl/maps/0HYFg

 

 

MORE INFORMATION ON STAIRCASE

 

PDF ON STAIRCASE: Staircase-Info-Map

 

 

MORE HIKES IN THE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Want More Hikes? Click Image for more details

Want More Hikes? Click Image for more details

 

PAPERBACK: https://www.createspace.com/4453957

E-BOOK: http://exotichikes.bigcartel.com/product/hike-every-week-olympic-peninsula-trail-guide

 

STOP READING. GO HIKING!

 

Falls on Wagonwheel Lake Trail

Falls on Wagonwheel Lake Trail

3 Responses so far.

  1. Melissa Stark says:

    Are dogs allowed on any of these hiking trails?

    • ExoticHikes says:

      Dogs are not allowed on any trails in the Staircase Region of Olympic National Park, and in very few in any National Park. While unfortunate, every trail in Olympic National Forest is dog-friendly, so there are hundreds of miles of options.

  2. The Majority says:

    because people don’t like stepping in your dogs shit! That’s why!

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