Tips for Family Backpacking on the Olympic Coast

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Situated along the northwestern-most border of the United States, you’ll spot Olympic National Park. First set aside as Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909, it has since gained many distinctions for its diverse wildlife, varied forests, snow bound peaks and untamed coastlines. In 1938, it became a national park and in 1988 95% of it was set aside as wilderness, further protecting this incredible park’s nearly 1 million acres.

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The Olympic Coast is a jewel for family backpacking. With proper preparations, there is no better place for a kid than on a beach. Every shell, rock and camp hides new mysteries.

To make a beach backpacking trip successful for kids, here are five pointers.

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1. Pack lots of food!

...as well as surprises like candy, marshmallows and other goodies. Come with a few adults who can help you with the extra weight, or have a few good friends meet you via separate access points with more supplies. You can hike out for a resupply as well.

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2. Plan to make days easier

Beach hiking is challenging and often takes twice the amount of time to travel the same distances you would on a forest trail. Plan for four to five miles a day. It will feel like 10. Have longer days followed by shorter days. Be sure to take into account the tides. There are several headlands that can only be crossed at certain water levels.

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3. You must make time for fun

Take layover days if you are moving up the beach. Bring kites, shorts, tiny shovels, sandals, build forts, etc. Have long lunch breaks. Don’t be in a hurry to get from point A to B. The fun is often found in those unique places you find in between.

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4. Always make a toasty fire

Every kid is mesmerized by it, even more than the adults. There is normally fallen wood everywhere on the beach. Be sure to bring cards for games!

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5. Pack manageable pack loads for the group

Every kid needs to work for it! Rewards for the work are more than enough to keep them coming back.

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