Hiking Olympic National Park
I’ve seen some amazing places and quite a few US national parks, but I have to say that this one is my favorite so far. Covering nearly one million acres, Olympic National Park offers so many different landscapes and climates to explore, from the coast, to the glaciated mountains, alpine lakes, clear rivers, and the awe-inspiring Hoh Rain Forest. I feel that I’ve only gotten a sweet little tease of this park, and I cannot wait to explore more.
Although we only drove through this area, it was definitely worth checking out. The road winds up to the visitors center and ends at 5,242 feet. Remember that you’re basically starting at sea level while hiking/driving here so seeing the tallest mountain, Mount Olympus, standing at 7,979 feet seems pretty high up there. The Hurricane Ridge area offered the best views that we were able to see of the tallest peaks in the Olympic Mountains. I know that there is hiking around this area, but unfortunately we only explored and camped in the car. There are many miles to be crushed the next time we’re in Port Angeles!
There are many pull-offs around the lake so we stopped and walked around a picnic area with our dog Niki before entering the pet-limited area of the park. The views of this lake were incredible, and it is surrounded by trees as well as rolling mountains. Yes, Lake Crescent was named because of its crescent shape! It was a windy day so the waves were rushing upon the shore.
Moments in Time Trail to Marymere Falls
This whole hike was only three miles total but gave us so many different views along the way. We walked along Lake Crescent, through a lush forest with the cutest ferns and greenest plants I’ve ever seen. The ground was covered with fallen leaves and the trees were covered in hanging vines, moss, fungi, and you guessed it, MORE BABY FERNS.
Both of the trails were friendly to all levels of hiking, but be careful on the bridges and stairs near Marymere Falls; they can be slick. The paths are clear, and the ground is tracked out and muddy. Be sure to stay on trails to preserve the area around you. Walk through the mud, and avoid making new paths around it.
Marymere falls trail features a river and more lush greenery surrounded by trees upon trees. The falls are tall, rushing, and worth the trek. You have to see it yourself to truly take in the beauty. Start as early as possible to avoid crowds. We saw the most people in this area of the park.
Ozette Coastal Wilderness
There are two different beaches that you can walk to from this area. We hiked the 6.2-mile out and back Cape Alava trail on the same day as the hikes near Crescent Lake. This required quite a bit of driving, but it was worth it. Please be prepared while going out near Ozette because it is very very remote. THERE ARE NO SERVICES: gas, food, lodging, etc.
This area offers coastal camping and actually features a nine-mile loop trail if you’re willing to hike the beach for three miles to connect to the other inland trail. The Cape Alava trail was easy and includes a lot of walking up and down wooden boardwalks. Once again, everything is wet, muddy, and slick, so take careful steps. This was the most condensed part of the forest that we saw in the Olympic NP Wilderness. I couldn’t even imagine bushwacking through that stuff.
We had Niki in the car so we were only going to hike to one beach regardless, but I must mention to be careful of the tides if you choose to do a loop hike. Pay attention to the tide charts at the ranger station. We are pretty ignorant when it comes to ocean knowledge, but I do know that driftwood kills and that you can get trapped out on the beach if you’re walking the coast at the wrong time.
We arrived to this area at dark, and we chose to stay at Rialto Beach campground so that we could explore a little bit the following morning. We wanted to hike to Hole in the Wall, but didn’t because we honestly weren’t prepared, and we didn’t know how safe it was to hike over driftwood during high tide. Again, we don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to the ocean. We ended up cooking breakfast, hanging out for a bit, and walked up and down the beach. Did you know that driftwood can mean entire freaking tree stumps? I honestly didn’t until we saw the Washington coast.
THE HOH RAIN FOREST
Extra big caption for drama because wow, I think I found my new favorite place. This area is just outside of Forks, Washington, and in my opinion, offered the best views. The trees are huge, and the many different types of mosses are green. We saw at least five different kinds of mushrooms, and holy cow the ferns were almost as tall as me. The Hoh River is rushing and appears to have the cleanest/clearest water. You can see straight to the bottom in the shallow parts! The crystal streams are beautifully littered with underwater plans and algae. Once again, the trails are slick and muddy so be sure to avoid straying off path so that we can preserve the area around it. There was definitely a stream crossing or two on the Hoh Trail.
Hall of Mosses and Hoh River Trail
The Hall of Mosses loop is an easy 0.8 miles and offers some of the incredible views listed above. It is family friendly and something that you have to check out. We did this loop as a “warm-up.”
One of the park rangers at the visitors center directed us to Mineral Creek falls about 2.7 miles up the Hoh River Trail. Overall, my AllTrails app said that we hiked 7.1 miles out and back through this area of the park. We met so many friendly faces while walking along the Hoh River. We discussed snow, hiking, mushrooms, traveling, and off-grid living. We also saw the silliest and cutest lil hippies hugging one of the biggest and squishest trees.
Wow, what an amazing few days on the Olympic Peninsula.
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