hiking spider lake in the olympic national forest

hiking spider lake

This past weekend, we decided to get away as a family to celebrate Ryan’s birthday off the grid. We went with some of his friends and their wives from work, and we spent Saturday hiking Spider Lake, a beautiful loop hike in Shelton, WA that’s nestled in the southeastern side of the Olympic National Forest. We also went camping with our three kids for the first time, but I figure that’s a post in and of itself, so I’m going to break it all up into bite-sized morsels to remember it better! It’s been a very hot few days out here in Washington, and while everyone is screaming for fall, ya girl here is begging summer to stay just a little bit longer so I can soak up every bit of sun possible before the rainy season starts. Don’t get me wrong; we’ll still explore when fall and the rainy season begins, but it’s so much more pleasant when the weather is nice. But, I digress.

We headed out midday on Saturday and made the two-hour trek towards Spider Lake from JBLM. Fun fact: it’s not all that far from JBLM, but the last 10-12 miles (as well as a few miles here and there) are all dirt road and gravel, so your driving time is significantly longer. We were well-prepared for our hike this time. For those who’ve been following our recent hikes like Emmons Moraine or Bertha May & Granite Lakes, you’ve likely seen that I’ve been hiking with a soft-structured carrier for Mieke. Well, we decided after last week’s hike that that was no longer safe or comfortable for us, so it was time to bite the bullet. We found a great used Deuter on the Facebook marketplace, and we decided that’s going to be our go-to for Mieke until she can hike solo, and it was awesome! If you’re interested, it’s this exact carrier, and it worked out great!

deuter kid comfort ii hiking

adventure family

Spider Lake trail isn’t long, and it’s perfect for all skill levels. It’s also one of those beautiful hikes where you have great views from the start and all the way around. The trail starts off with a steep downhill, and we worked with the boys to sidestep their way down. Within a half a mile though, the lake appears in all its glory right in front of you, and we couldn’t resist. Just like we always do, the kids and I decided to take a dip while the rest of our party patiently waited for us to get our inner fishes out of our system. PS – pretty sure this is our thing; swimming in random bodies of water just because we can. Does that make us weird?

The water was beautiful – both in color and temperature. After a few really cold swims lately (mainly Deschutes Falls), this was downright refreshing. I’d hazard a guess that it was closer to 63-64 degrees, and the kids happily waded and swam with no problem at all. I’ve read that most people don’t swim because Spider Lake is supposedly aptly-named for the hundreds of water spiders, but we didn’t see any – just a lot of dragonflies. So  yeah, not many people were swimming, but there were plenty of people kayaking. Overall though, the lake was pretty quiet, and aside from a few people boondocking by the far shores, we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves. I’ll credit that to the fact that this hike is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

swimming olympic national forest

spider lake trail

spider lake olympic national forest

spider lake hike

hiking family wa

favorite hikes wa

kids hiking

The trail, itself, is pretty easy. The initial steep downhill heads straight to the lake, then the trail meanders lazily around the shores of Spider Lake, climbing gradually at times, traversing a few adorable footbridges here and there, and overall providing for beautiful views through the mossy trees. There are a few places where the trail is a bit overgrown and the kids had to clamber over jut-outs, rocks, and roots, but I think that’s sort of the best way to enjoy a good hike. Once you’ve traversed to the far side of the trail, there’s a gradual incline, a few small switchbacks, and then you see the lake in all its glory from the other side. And, eventually, the trail ties into the right side of that initial steep downhill, and you climb back up to the trailhead. Honestly, it was a really fun one, and the kids enjoyed the diversity of scenery, as well as the swimming. If you’re in the area and hope to spend a day hiking Spider Lake, here’s what you should know:

Trail Length: It’s only about 2.5 miles from start to finish, and it’s a pretty easy loop trail that goes around the entire lake. We added a tiny bit of distance climbing off the trail to go for a quick swim, but it wasn’t much.

Level of Difficulty: Easy. Honestly, I truly believe all skill levels can do this. I’d recommend decent hiking shoes for the steep downhill, as well as climbing over some roots and up the few little switchbacks, but it was definitely not a hard hike.

Cost: Free

Parking: There’s a really petite trailhead along the side of the road that has maybe 3 parking spots max. Most people just park along the side of the dirt road though, which is only really traversed by other hikers and campers. No parking permit is required.

Dog-Friendly: Yes! Danny loves this – plenty of sniffs and lake water to drink.

Tips: Bring bug spray. The mosquitoes are killer here. Also, if you can easily pack-in/pack-out your camping gear, I’d hazard a guess that this is a beautiful place to camp. Unfortunately, we’re not equipped to camp quite that simply yet, so we camped elsewhere.