Kalaloch is a gem atop a bluff along Washington’s Pacific coast. The area is lush and green, and many of the sites have ocean views. One word of caution though: they don’t call this area rainforest for nothing.
Location: Olympic National Park
Online Reservations: Yes, Reserve Here!
Restrooms: Flush Toilets
Potable Water: Yes
Kalaloch is one of the most visited locations in the Olympic National Park, and that status is well earned. This campground has direct access to the beach for which it was named. You’ll need to descend about 40ft on the access trail and, quite possibly, navigate over a drift log to get to the beach front.
The campground offers many of the essential amenities that avid campers look for: flush toilets, potable water, and even a fish cleaning area to prepare your fresh catch.
There are no RV hookups, but there is a dump station that can be used by paying a $10 fee.
The peak season for Kalaloch is June 13th to September 22nd. You can book sites for nights within this season, and you can make that reservation up to six months in advance.
If you’re hoping to spend a popular camping weekend here (i.e. Labor Day) you might consider trying to reserve a site as early as possible.
For those campers that prefer cooking over an open fire, there are fire rings available at every campsite; however, make sure you bring a backup method of cooking (such as a propane burner). The weather can change quickly and Murphy’s Law won’t hesitate to put a stop to your dinner plans!
That being said, this is a five-star campground. Just don’t forget your rain jacket!
Location: Quinault, Olympic NP
Roundtrip: 1.5 miles
Gain: 30 ft.
The Kestner homestead was originally claimed in 1891, by Anton Kestner. After serving as a homestead for many years the property came into the possession of the National Forest Service. However, despite this, it fell into disrepair.
Now there are plans to renovate the site, but it still has a long way to go. Visitors today can stroll the grounds of the homestead and, with a little imagination, can almost see right into the past.
The trail begins at the North Shore Ranger Station in Quinault. It’s best hiked counterclockwise from the parking lot; this trail is easy to follow and offers an easy grade.
After a short stroll through the rainforest, you’ll cross a bridge; from there, the homestead should be in sight. The main home is currently closed for repair, but you’re welcome to look through the windows!
You’re also allowed to explore the outbuildings on the property. There are some interesting things to see, though the history of each structure isn’t revealed through interpretive signs (hopefully one day, though!). Instead, you’ll have to make your best guess with a little help from your imagination.
Take time to snack, rest, or hide from the rain at the picnic tables under the barn – which has a new roof – before continuing down the path to complete the loop.
Are There Toilets? : Yes! As luck would have it, there are flush toilets located near the parking area.
How about Picnic Tables? : There is only one table by the parking lot, but if you trek into the homestead you’ll find plenty under the old barn.
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : No. This is likely because you’re parking at a Ranger Station along with the trailhead.
Are Dogs Allowed? : No.
Can We Camp Here? : There is plenty of camping along the south shore of Lake Quinault.
When is the Best Time to Visit? : This is a great destination year-round!
Location: Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Adams
Roundtrip: 3 miles
Gain: 100 ft.
If you’re camping at the Takhlakh Lake Campground, you’re in luck! You can leave the car there and start hiking right out of the campground.
If you’re not staying at the campground you can pass the campground’s entrance and travel about 1/4 mile farther down the road before parking where trail #132 crosses over. There is limited parking here, but doing so will avoid the $5 day-use fee for parking at the campground. Just make sure you display your Forest or Interagency Pass!
When both trails are hiked together they form something like an odd figure 8.
While on the Takhlakh Lake trail you’ll pretty much be walking through the campground, though you are set apart from the campsites. The view of Mount Adams across the lake is worth it.
Be mindful not to get mixed up between the trail and the social paths that have been cut near the meadows. It’s easy to continue along the edge of the lava formation and leave the real trail behind.
If you find yourself at a near dead-end like section of the trail that looks “straight up” you’ve gone too far. Only extraordinarily nimble trekkers will brave scrambling this hill – but it is doable.
If you caught the right junction the trail should hug the meadow a bit before crossing back over the road. You’ll spend the next section of the loop traversing a lovely forest before returning to where you began, whether that be the road or campground.
Are There Toilets? : Yes. There are vault toilets available in the day use section of Takhlakh Campground. If you’re not staying at the campground and you didn’t pay the fee you’ll have to let it way on your conscience though.
How about Picnic Tables? : Yes, they can also be found in the day use area.
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. If you park on the road you’ll want to display a Forest or Interagency Pass, but if you park in the day use area you’ll need to pay the $5 fee.
Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes.
Can We Camp Here? : Yes! This trail runs through the Takhlakh Lake Campground.
When is the Best Time to Visit? : Late spring and summer are the best times to visit. Keep in mind that the campgrounds typically close the first week of September.
Location: Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Adams
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Gain: 700 ft.
Steamboat Mountain is, surprisingly, not an overused trail; despite its short length and amazing views, you’re not likely to see more than a few other hikers.
I have two theories as to why this trail seems to lack the popularity it deserves: the first of which is the road to the trailhead.
The road up to the Steamboat Mountain trailhead has its fair share of gravel and dirt. That being said, it is passable for vehicles with only 2WD and a lower clearance. There is a drainage ditch that runs along the right side of the road for a bit, but if you keep to the left you’ll be able to make it through.
My second theory as to why this trail isn’t more popular is the gain to length ratio. You’ll be climbing at least 700 feet within the span of a mile – which is a moderate hike in its own right. However, the bright side is that this trail hosts an abundance of thick huckleberry bushes.
Visit this trail in the late summer and you can plan on stopping often to snack on some of the best huckleberries in the Cascades. This is a wonderful distraction from the elevation gain. Just don’t forget to bring a bucket!
Once you make it to the end of the trail your hard work will be rewarded with wondrous views of some of the largest mountains in Washington state. The most prominent of which will be Mt. Adams, but if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens as well. Make sure you hold on to the little ones as you peek over the edge and back down at the parking area to take a look at the car!
Are There Toilets? : No. Make sure to stop at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station on the way!
How about Picnic Tables? : Nope. Eat at the car before heading up the trail or bring snacks. Just remember, if you pack it in you should pack it out!
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. You’ll use your Discovery Pass here.
Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes! Be considerate of others and make sure your pets are always nearby and under control.
Can We Camp Here? : Peterson Prarie, Takhlakh Lake, Lower Falls, and Adams Fork are all great options.
When is the Best Time to Visit? : mid to late summer.