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10 Best Olympic Hikes

10 Best Hikes in Olympic

BEST HIKES IN OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Man Backpacking in Olympic

Olympic National Park is home to over 600 miles of trails that range from easy to strenuous, and from no elevation gain to 3,000 feet elevation gain. The beautifully-unique thing about Olympic National Park is that it is really like three parks in one, featuring mountains, rainforests and coastline. Each of these environments is diverse, with unique landscapes and wildlife. Below we have listed our ten favorite hikes in the park.

Washington Trail Association has a comprehensive list of all the trails in the Olympic Peninsula, including over 360 trail descriptions. And, as always, make sure you are up-to-date on trail conditions before strapping on your boots and heading out.


Start your hike at the Obstruction Point Trailhead, just before the Deer Park Ranger Station. This is a moderately-strenuous, 9 mile roundtrip hike, taking you on one of the highest trails in Olympic National Park. Obstruction Point trail descends 400 feet in the first mile, and then gains it back, climbing 700 feet in the second mile. As you reach the base of Green Mountain, you are treated to remarkable vistas, but this is just a small glimpse of what is yet to come. Traversing Green Mountain, the meadow starts to open up, and you get broad and expansive views on all sides. To get to the summit of Maiden Peak, you will have to scramble up a boulder field with no trail, but once you get to the top, the views are incredible. You can look down on the Grand Ridge trail winding up the side of Elk Mountain, as well as Mount Angeles, Klahhane Ridge, Hurricane Ridge and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


Starting on the Switchback Trail, you will climb 1,500 steep feet in just over 1.5 miles. It ascends through a conifer-spruce forest via a series of short, steep switchbacks—just as it’s name suggests. Once at the top of the crest, the trail winds through an open meadow, abundant with lively wildflowers in the late spring and summer. Wildlife, including mountain goats, black bears and marmots, is also common in the meadow. Eventually, you will reach the junction for the Mount Angeles Trail. Take a right here and follow Klahhane Ridge to the base of Mount Victor, rising above you at 5850 feet. This is a great place to turn-around and head back down the mountain, or you can continue for another 1.5 miles to a 6046 foot knoll—view from which are spectacular.

3. SUNRISE POINT


Start on the Switchback Trail to Mount Angeles Trail, as described above. When you get to the trail junction, you will take a left and follow the ridgeline to Hurricane Ridge. Travel 3.1 miles along Hurricane Ridge to Sunrise Point. From this vantage point, you are able to look out to Elwha Valley, the Bailey Range and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Like it’s name leads you to believe, it is a great location to watch sunrise—with the sun slowly illuminating the rolling ridgelines in the distance.


Hike from Staircase along the North Fork of the Skokomish River, through dense and vibrant rainforest. With thick trees, ferns and mosses, you will be able to experience the ecology of Olympic National Park’s old-growth forest. The path winds next to the meandering river; dramatic rapids are seen and heard throughout the route, helping you to realize how powerful the Skokomish River is. Around two miles, you will reach an impressive suspension bridge crossing the river, this is a good turn-around point. Or, you can continue a bit further to "Shady Lane", where the old-growth forest seems thick with wisdom and mystery.

We recommend doing this hike with Wildland Trekking Company—day hikes are all-inclusive, so all gear, lunch, snacks and a knowledgeable guide are provided. With a local and professional guide leading the way, you will learn all about the ecology and biology of this unique and diverse ecosystem.


Hiking through Hoh Rainforest is a magical experience; characterized by gigantic trees, tumbling moss, Roosevelt elk, chirping birds and the rushing river. This hike to Five Mile Island is perfect for all levels of ability, since it is easy and flat with little elevation gain. The trail wanders next to the river, and Five Mile Island, at nearly 5.3 miles, is a lovely lunch spot and vantage point to see Bogachiel Peak in the distance. If it is raining, you can continue on to the Happy Four Shelter, which is just .5 miles up the trail.


Sol Duc Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Olympic National Park, and for good reason. The trail starts off behind the Sol Duc Hot Springs Hotel, on a wide path, under the thick canopy of Sitka spruce and Douglas-fir, surrounded by epiphytes and nurse logs. This is a classic Olympic Peninsula rainforest hike with minimal elevation gain, making it perfect for all ages and levels of ability. At .8 miles, you will reach the falls, which can split into four channels, depending on the water flow, and falls 48 feet to the canyon below. There are multiple places to view the waterfall, including a bridge that crosses the river. When you are ready, or have felt enough of the falls’ mist, simply turn around and hike out the way you came.


This 5 mile hike through the Quinault Rainforest is called Enchanted Valley for a reason. The lush, fern-covered rainforest is green with life and wisdom, enchanting all who walk through. Hiking along the North Fork of the Quinault River, this trail to Pony Bridge will take you deep into the rainforest without much effort or elevation gain. Sitka spruce, mosses, ferns and berries grow abundantly along the path, which leads you up a ridge, and down the other side. A short spur trail leads you to an incredible overlook of the vibrant river flowing through a narrow gorge. Once back on the main trail, you will continue down to the bridge, giving you an up-close and personal experience with the brilliant blue-green river. Take a break here; enjoy the beautiful scenery and eat a snack, then simply turn around and head to the trailhead the same way you came.

8. HOLE-IN-THE- WALL


Hole-in-the-Wall is a Swiss-cheese looking rock face, created by waves that carve away softer rock, leaving a hole in the harder rock. The opening is large enough for a person to stand beneath, and offers spectacular photographic opportunities to capture the sea stacks framed in the opening. This easy stroll along the coast is just 3 miles roundtrip, and takes you past some of the most phenomenal features that the Olympic Coast has to offer. Ancient, fern and moss covered sea stacks are scattered throughout the water, birds are soaring in the air and scavenging on the beach, and a lush old-growth forest is alive with wisdom and mystery. If you arrive at Hole-in-the-Wall at low tide, you can walk through the rocky opening, and gaze into the tidepools, vibrant with colorful sea urchins and sea cucumbers. However, if you arrive at high tide, you can take the overland route above the rock to get a panoramic view. Make sure you know the times of high and low tide, and take a look at a tide predictions before you get started!

9. CAPE ALAVA LOOP TRAIL


This trail actually consists of two hikes in one: an old-growth forest followed by dramatic coastline. You will start at Lake Ozette, crossing an arched bridge right off the bat. Soon, you will hit the boardwalks that lead you through dense Western redcedar, Bigleaf maple, Licorice ferns and cat-tail moss. At 3.3 miles, you will be able to smell the ocean before you can see it, and the trail drops you off at the coast. The best thing about this coastline is how isolated it is; the only thing that seems to have been there lately is the lively marine life. Tskawahyah Island is about a mile out from shore, standing guard over everything from sea lion to sea cucumber. You will pass Wedding Rocks, home to ancient petroglyphs, on your way to Sand Point—which is one of the most pristine and dramatic beaches in the country. Look for a trail marking taking you back into the forest to complete the loop.


Located at the most-northern section of the Olympic Peninsula, the trail winds through cedar and spruce forests, over boardwalks, through mud, and brings you to Shi Shi Beach. When you finally emerge, you get a wide-open view of Shi Shi Beach before descending 200 feet to be on it. Once on the beach, you have the chance to go tidepooling and peer into the clear water, teeming with intertidal communities, sometimes with hundreds of organisms crammed into a space the size of a dinner plate. Take your time on Shi Shi Beach and explore all the nooks and crannies of the shoreline. This is an out-and-back hike, so when you are ready, simply turn around and head back the way you came.

WHAT TO BRING ON A DAY HIKE

It is important to be prepared when setting out for a day hike in Olympic National Park. Know that the weather can change drastically, and without warning—check the weather for Hurricane Ridge, the Quinault Rainforest or Rialto Beach. Below is a list of the most important things to bring on a day hike:


Join a Guided Hiking Adventure
Yosemite hiking tours

Olympic National Park is home to some of the most epic and amazing hiking vacations in the world. Wildland Trekking offers trips with the best of Olympic: the coast, the mountains, wildlife, solitude, adventure and fascinating natural and cultural interpretation.

Guided Olympic National Park treks are all-inclusive which covers permits; local transportation (excluded on certain tours); meals; equipment; safety systems and professional hiking/wilderness guides; all of which allows visitors to maximize their time in Yosemite and focus entirely on enjoying the Park.

OLYMPIC ADVENTURE TOURS

  • GUIDED BACKPACKING ADVENTURES: these are for people interested in an authentic Olympic National Park adventure away from the roads and crowds.
  • INN-BASED PACKAGES: these tours are all-inclusive packages with lodging, amazing daily hikes, expert guides, meals, transportation and more!
  • CAMPING-BASED HIKING PACKAGES: camping-based hiking packages provide all-around hiking experiences of the Olympic Coast on wonderful outdoor vacations.
  • DAY HIKE TOURS: maximize your day in Olympic National Park on a fully guided, award-winning hiking tour on one of the Park's best trails.