There are few places on the West Coast that offer the rugged, wild, and scenic beauty found on Washington State’s Hood Canal. With stunning mountains that offer some of the best panoramas in the Pacific Northwest, campgrounds on pristine lakes, and everything else your wanderlust spirit could want, the Hood Canal is home to the ultimate family adventure for outdoor recreation.

For nature lovers and those looking to get away from the concrete, the Hood Canal is waiting for you, eager to share its secrets with you and get you out into the wilds of Washington. Come out and see for yourself why the Hood Canal is the perfect destination for family adventures in the great outdoors.

Sleep by the Water

The best way to explore Hood Canal is to do it over a couple of days, which means you’ll get to sleep along the Hood Canal itself or along Lake Cushman. Your best bets for an amazing night of sleep, surrounded by the beauty of the region, can be found at Skokomish Park at Lake Cushman, the Waterfront at Potlatch, or the Glen Ayr Motel and RV Park. Those hoping for camping will enjoy both sleeping under the stars and access to the lake at Skokomish Park, where you can have a fire, picnic, or just wander the trails and paddle the waters of the region. Families needing a few more amenities and to be closer to the town of Hoodsport will enjoy the comforts at The Waterfront and Glen Ayr, which are both located right along the waters of Hood Canal.

Paddle Lake Cushman
Camping at Lake Cushman gives you a chance to have the perfect basecamp. Photo credit: The Outdoor Society

Paddle Lake Cushman

Lake Cushman is the perfect lake for your paddling adventures. Under the watchful eye of Mounts Ellinor, Rose, Washington, and Lightning, you’ll have a chance to paddle the pristine waters gathered by the Lake Cushman dam. Don’t have a boat to paddle? Don’t worry! Rentals of both single and double kayaks, pedal boats, and stand up paddleboards are available from Skokomish Park during the summer months, making getting out on the waters extremely easy. Available from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the region from this iconic and always gorgeous lake.

Climb Mountains

Surrounding Lake Cushman, there are a handful of mountains to hike and climb, each ranging in difficulty. For families with younger kids who can hike a decent amount, the easiest hike to the top of a mountain is found on Mount Ellinor. At less than five miles roundtrip, this trail heads straight up, so bring plenty of food and water and take breaks. From Mount Ellinor, you’ll see the entire Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and all the major mountains of Washington State. Mount Rose is another good hike with fantastic views of Lake Cushman below. Keep in mind, these hikes are for older kids or young kids who are used to hiking for hours at a time on rugged terrain!

Mount Ellinor
With a handful of amazing mountains to climb and hike, you’ll get your fill of panoramic views while exploring Hood Canal. Photo credit: The Outdoor Society

Hike Amazing Trails

The Hood Canal region of the Olympic Peninsula is home to some of the most stunning and gorgeous hikes in the state. Whether you travel along the family-friendly Staircase Loop Trail, wander to Lena Lake, walk the easy trails at Dosewallips State Park, explore the often-overlooked Upper South Fork of the Skokomish or travel up to the always stunning Flapjack Lakes, the Hood Canal has a lifetime of fun, family-friendly treks perfect for all ages and abilities.

Explore Waterfalls

Along Hood Canal, there are a handful of gorgeous waterfalls that make ideal getaways for an afternoon. The two best waterfalls on the Hood Canal can be found close to Hoodsport, near the Duckabush and Dosewallips Rivers. One of the classic waterfalls is Murhut Falls, just up the hill from the Duckabush River. Accessed by a short and mostly flat hike that is roughly a mile long, seeing this double-tiered waterfall is beautiful all year round. Keep in mind that the falls themselves are only accessible by climbing down an extremely steep slope, so it is best to enjoy them from the established overlook. Right near the Dosewallips River, the always stunning and family-friendly Rocky Brook Falls makes for a perfect side-trip. Reached after a short walk, Rocky Brook is an awesome place to go on a hot day to cool off.

Rocky Brook Falls
Rocky Brook Falls is one of two stunning waterfalls along the Hood Canal that you need to see! Photo credit: The Outdoor Society

Explore the Towns

After hiking, climbing, and paddling to your heart’s content, enjoy a more refined way to relax by exploring Potlatch and Hoodsport. In Potlatch, swing by the Lucky Dog Casino for a chance to win big, as well as enjoy an amazing buffet. In Hoodsport, grab a cup of coffee or ice cream at Hoodsport Coffee, hit up any of the towns restaurants or even sip some amazing wines and spirits. Hoodsport is a fun and walkable town, sure to capture your heart as you take in the sights and enjoy the smells of the water, just a few feet away.

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