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Things to do on western side of ONP

Seattle, WA
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Things to do on western side of ONP

Hello members!

We're visiting ONP this weekend for 3 days from Seattle and will be using Forks as our base. I've seen the eastern side of ONP (hurricane ridge, lake crescent etc) a few times, so I want to exclusively focus on the western side this time. I'm travelling with a 2yr old and a pregnant wife, so anything involving more than a short hike (0.5 mi or so), is ruled out.

There seems to be quite bit of choice when it comes to beaches, but its unclear to me which ones require a strenuous hike and which don't. What beaches would you recommend that don't involve a hike? Anything else near Forks that would interest a toddler (tide-pools etc)?

Thanks

-Arun

9 replies to this topic
Fortaleza, CE
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1. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

Why you would pick Forks as your base, I don't know, plus the only interest you mention is seeing a beach area with tide pools (i.e., maybe no need to go to ONP). We spent three nights at Lake Quinault Lodge, in Olympic Natl. Forest, at the edge of the park, and found it a good base. There are also several beach towns that could present more scenery, and more opportunities for walks to tide pools, than would the rather non-descript, non-scenic, town of Forks. If "Twilight" is your reason for picking Forks, maybe La Push, which would be on the coast and did, I hear, figure in "Twilight." If the book/'film series is not a factor, why did you pick Forks?

Poulsbo, Washington
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2. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

You picked Forks, because it ISthe best base for the Western side of the Park if you know what to expect. Quinault is too far from the best beaches and the Hoh Rainforest. Way to much uneccessary back and forth driving most of which is anything but scenic. Here is the rub. Forks is a depressed logging town. Amanda Park and Quinault is a resort. I use Forks only as a place to lay my head, and spend every hour of daylight exploring the Park. That is me. The key to staying in Forks is where you stay. Many people slam Forks without ever having spent the night there in a good acommodation. There are nice places to stay! Food is what is missing. You have to want to cook while on vacation and have a kitchen. I have heard from many many people who enjoyed there time in Forks. A lot is about expectations.

Let me know where you are staying. If you do not have a kitchen you are just going to have to settle for good burgers and ok pizza.

This is where Quinault does make sense. Nice acommadations in a lovely setting and good food. A thirty mile drive to a pretty beach and lots of walking options in the valley in gorgeous old growth rainforest. Nothing wrong with that mine you. If that sounds appealing to you then stay at Quinault I know all of the places to stay if anything is even available. I caution you though if you choose Quinault, make the most of your time there and at the most only venture as far as a couple of the beaches like Ruby and Beach 3!

Port Angeles, WA
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3. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

I am concerned for your pregnant wife and for your two year old as well. I don't know how advanced your wife's pregnancy is, but driving long distances with an aching back, swollen ankles, and a near constant need to pee is no fun at all. The worst part of your trip may be that long drive to Forks from Seattle, but I think, for your wife and toddler's sake, that further driving should be limited. That being said, here is what I would suggest for Forks.

Rialto Beach. You can drive right to the beach, so your wife and little one can start having fun right away. The drive from Forks is only about 25 minutes, and it's a pretty drive. There are nice tide pools, and you really don't have to worry about getting there right around low tide. Even at higher tides, RB is great.

Unfortunately, that is it for beach recommendations. Second and Third Beaches, while gorgeous, require hikes of a mile or more from the trail head to the beach. Even worse, these beaches have huge driftwood barriers that you must clamber over in order to reach the sand. That is out of the question for your family.

The Hoh Rain Forest is my only other recommendation. It is a 1 hour drive from Forks, but the last 30 minutes of the drive are beautiful. There are no .5 mile hikes there, though. The shortest is the Hall of Mosses, which is just under 1 mile. Sol Duc Falls is out. The Bogachiel Trail is way out. Cape Alava is virtually on another planet.

Frankly, given your constraints, I don't think this trip has much to offer you. Half a mile is not much, and there are almost no trails in the park that short. You could do the tiny Moments in Time hike at the Barnes Creek area of Lake Crescent, but that would mean a 40 minute drive back from Forks, and it's not that impressive. Ditto the even tinier Madison Falls hike near the Elwha.

Forks is a dismal town, and, as Glaciermeadows has said, there is no decent place to eat there with the exception of a little burger joint at 3 Rivers Resort in LaPush. Their burgers and pie are honest, if not spectacular. I hope, for your wife's sake, that you have rented a house with a kitchen so that you can bring food and cook your meals. It's so much easier when you have a little one.

I agree with Glaciermeadows that, in your case, Lake Quinault Lodge might have been a better choice, even though your wife might have a little trouble getting down to Ruby Beach.

Gig Harbor...
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4. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

If you are staying in Forks, it would be 105 miles to do this: Forks to Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, Kalaloch Lodge (lunch or dinner), return to Forks. Ruby Beach is a fairly easy walk from the parking lot, Hall of the Mosses at Hoh is about a one mile loop. We haven't eaten at Kalaloch Lodge but friends say the food there is good. We ate at Lake Quinault Lodge - decent hamburgers in a pretty dining room with a view of the lake.....If you instead stay at Lake Quinault Lodge, the same drive (Lodge, Ruby Beach, Hoh, back to LQ Lodge) is 145 miles, so not that much difference.

Poulsbo, Washington
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5. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

No reason to drive all the way to Ruby Beach if you are staying in Forks! Rialto is IMO more spectacular. Food at Kalaloch was just OK last time I ate there. The drive from Forks to Kalaloch is ugly until you get to the Ocean. Do not do so much driving just to eat at Kalaloch or see Ruby Beach. Eating at lake Crescent Lodge is even a better option and Sol Duc Falls.

Edited: 12:13 pm, August 14, 2013
Poulsbo, Washington
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6. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

Sorry I missed the part about being pregnant. Where are you staying? By the way unless it is low tide at Ruby Beach, you would have to climb over some large driftwood. I was just there two weeks ago for the umpteenth time.

Seattle, WA
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7. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

Thanks for the replies! I've dramatically lowered my expectations based on the replies :).. We're staying at the wood street guest house which has a kitchen so food shouldn't be a problem. We're not twilight fans either, but there were very limited options to stay in ONP at short notice (we needed a kitchen). We love seafood - are there any places we could get fresh seafood at/near forks?

We'll definitely check out Rialto. Driving to kalaloch and crescent lodges for lunch/dinner seems like a great idea as well. If we're too bored at Forks, I've the backup plan of just spending an afternoon/evening at lake crescent (I've been there a couple of times and loved it!).

Are there any other scenic drives that we could do in that area?

Poulsbo, Washington
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8. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

Again neither of these drives is scenic for the most part. Clearcuts and second growth. Forks has one grocery store. There selection of seafoodand vegatables etc. is nothing special. Buy a cheap cooler and ice on your way at Sunny Farms on the Westend of Sequim. You will pass right buy it. Stock up with seafood veggies and fruit there. Fun place to shop. Then you can get anything else you need in Forks. Catch lowtides and sunsets at Rialto Beach if it is clear. Next time you visit the Penninsula post sooner. The Forks area is fantastic for avid hikers and fisherman, but with a young child and pregnant wife it may not be what you are looking for. There are also places to stay in and around Forks that also may have been better suited for you. Do not despair you will see some marvelous things, I just hope the Beaches are clear for you. On your way to Forks (I am assuming you are going by way of Port Angeles and the ferries) stop at the guard shack and entrance at the Sol Duc. It is not that far off of 101. Ask the Ranger there if anyone is seeing salmon in the River. There are some great spots to watch fish further up the road. If the ranger says yes, you can turn around and head to Forks and return another day if you get bored.

Port Angeles, WA
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9. Re: Things to do on western side of ONP

Yes, Glacier is right, Sunny Farms is wonderful, with excellent fish. I wish I could be more helpful to your family. ONP is a glorious place, but it can present challenges to people with mobility problems and to families with little children who are too young to walk much but too big to be carried.

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