Just a quick ~2 hour drive from Seattle is this magical oasis. Olympic National Park is filled with surprises, due to it’s constantly evolving scenery found around every corner. From lush green rainforests and cascading mountains, to peaceful beaches and various wildlife; this park definitely gives a well rounded experience.
This guide below is separated into a few of the major sections within the park.
Elwha River Valley
Madison Falls – .1 mile, easy, paved, wheelchair accessible
This waterfall is right off the road which provides an easy and accessible activity for those who either can’t do long hikes, don’t want to, or are just passing by. You will love the incredible moss and how serene this hike is.
West Elwha Trail – 6.4 miles (RT), easy
This trail follows along the Elwha river through beautiful green forests. It has old wooden bridges that highlight the Elwha river and the beautiful blue tint it has to it. The forest greenery also did not disappoint.
We did not intend to take this trail initially, but ended up enjoying the simplicity of it and it made for a great warm up hike. Be aware that most of Elwha road was closed while I visited, which was why we did this trail. It has been closed for awhile now, so be sure to check the national parks website when you visit.
East beach at Crescent Lake –
This is a great spot for a pit stop if you are leaving the Elwha area and heading farther north around the park. This lake was created by glaciers many years ago and there are several hiking trails around the lake, picnic tables, lunch spots, and a boat launch. Many visitors will go for a swim in this lake to cool off and additionally there are boats available to rent from Lake Crescent Lodge if you are looking for a different kind of activity.
Marymere Falls – 1.8 miles (RT), easy
This is a hike that is right off of the road around Crescent Lake. This is a nice and easy pit stop off the road with a gorgeous waterfall. The bridges and towering trees make for a beautiful trail itself with a rewarding end.
The drive up to the parking area is 17 miles of beauty and awe, and definitely something you want to see on your journey. Be sure to get to this area early, especially during high season. This parking lot has limited space and fills up very quickly, and if you end up waiting in line at the bottom of the hill then it could be hours before you are able to experience this magical place.
Hurricane Hill – 3.2 miles (RT), moderate, in and out
This is a very highly trafficked hike and is an amazing way to see the vast ridge-lines of this park. This hike gives a panoramic view of the mountains with a short distance hike, which definitely makes it worthwhile.
Cirque Rim – 1 mile (RT), Big Meadow trail – .5 (RT)
Both of these trails above are paved, easy, and wheelchair accessible. These are connected and accessible, making them a great addition to a trip and a worthwhile option for those who can’t do longer hikes.
High Ridge – .5 (RT), loop, easy
This ridge takes you to a 360 view and has a .1 mile addition which will lead you to sunrise point. This is a phenomenal vista and should definitely be added during your time on Hurricane Ridge, especially during sunrise if you can.
Klahhane Ridge – 7.6 (RT), in and out, moderate
Khlahhane Ridge is a amazing trail with many elements; incline to get your heart pumping, beautiful mountainous views, green forestry, and it is a great substitute if Hurricane Hill Trail is closed. I highly recommend this trail as we really enjoyed everything it had to offer. I suggest you give yourself plenty of time to stay in this area because you will constantly be stopping for pictures and you want to be able to soak this in.
Sol Duc Hot Springs –
This is provided by the Sol Duc Resorts and it is mineral pool bathing. I will say that I was disappointed by this experience, as it was much more of a hot tub bath that was very overcrowded and unenjoyable.
Sol Duc Falls – 1.6 mile (RT), in and out
This is an easy hike through an old growth forest and it leads you to the Sol Duc waterfall. This was way more beautiful than I expected, and I know you will love the simplistic beauty of this short hike.
You can also link this trail to Lover’s Lane for a longer hike (6 mile RT) in this area.
Ancient Groves – .6 mile loop, easy
Off the main road to Sol Duc there are a few educational signs and short nature walks you can stop at. This one is quick, gorgeous, and filled ferns and old growth to explore.
Mora and La Push
There are many beaches and things to do along this shoreline. This area is most well known for being the location of the Twilight movies and you can pass through the small town of Forks, their hometown. This adds a fun aspect to your trip if you are a fan of the series.
These beaches are the prime example of how gorgeous northwestern beaches are; with giant drift logs, large rocks and boulders, views of islands in the distance, many people camping along shore, and icy waves to surf or simple enjoy.
This is one of the most magical and dense areas I have ever seen. You will be amazed by the striking greenery and the way the old rainforest has flourished over time. Here there are two short and paved walks you can do from the visitor center. These give you information and point out scientific facts about this type of environment.
There is one longer trail here as well which takes you to Mt. Olympus, so if you are interested in backpacking you can take advantage of that trail, just be sure to secure your permit early enough as they are in high demand.
There is so much to see and do in this park, so do not limit yourself by any guide and be sure to give yourself a good amount of time here!
There are many campgrounds throughout the area but try to book a site early if you can. We did have the awesome experience of camping on a locals farmland because we couldn’t secure a site anywhere. This was a stressful situation at first, but we ended up meeting such a kind and welcoming family who had owned the land for 3 generations, and getting to sleep and wake up to friendly cows. I hope you have an amazing time exploring Olympic National Park!