Surprisingly, backpacking in the winter is can be quite nice in Olympic National Park. If you are at a low elevation, the temperature can be mild, although rain is something that you will have to plan for. Bring your rain jacket and rain pants, as well as a waterproof tent and a tarp that you can use as a shelter. There are many options for a multi-day trip in Olympic National Park, including guided basecamp trips and inn-based trips However, if you are interested in backpacking in the winter, we have listed our favorite winter backpacking trips below:
1. NORTH COAST TRAIL
- Trailhead: Shi Shi Beach
- Distance: 19.4 miles
- Days to complete: 3-4
Begin your journey at Shi Shi Beach, on the Makah reservation
, and hike 19 miles to Ozette Lake. Although the mileage is relatively low on this trip, the terrain is dramatic, with bowling ball sized boulders that are slick with wet moss and algae, steep overland routes, and the pressure to make a crossing before the tide
rolls in. But, this dramatic terrain is what makes the landscape so beautiful, and high risk means high rewards along the North Coast. You can expect stunning sunsets, endless stretches of pristine and uninhabited beaches, ancient rock spires, and tiny sea creatures in tidepools. It is best to do this over the course of 3-4 days; from Shi Shi Beach, you will head south along the coast, then turn inland on the boardwalks to Lake Ozette. Arrange a shuttle beforehand, do the return hike back to your car, or go on a guided backpacking trip
and let the guiding company handle the logistics.
2. POINT OF ARCHES
The trail to Point of Arches is nice and relaxing, and is a great way to de-stress before or after the holidays. Follow the trail to Shi Shi Beach, and head south for as long as you like. Camping is permitted anywhere along the beach, just follow the Leave No Trace principles
. Spend some time exploring Point of Arches, use the headlands trails—marked by red and black targets, to go as far as you want. This backpacking trip is perfect for relaxing on the beach and finding awesome driftwood shapes. Just make sure you bring your rain gear, and tide chart
—and know how to read it!
3. SOL DUC RIVER TRAIL
Begin at the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls, and pass the impressive waterfall after 1.6 miles. You will have to backtrack a little to get to the trail for Appleton Pass, but going to Sol Duc Falls is worth the extra steps. Once on the trail to Appleton Pass, you will hike very gradually uphill, through deep and thick forest; keep your eyes peeled for remarkable nurse logs
, towering fir and spruce trees, and slimy banana slugs
. Backcountry campsites
are abundant along this trail, so finding a perfect home for the night shouldn’t be too hard. The next day, head back to the trailhead the same way you came.