Olympic National Park

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: April 2023

Olympic National Park is situated in the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington. It contains three different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rainforests and the rugged Pacific shoreline. There are several trails, viewpoints and other activities in the park to enjoy the scenery.

Day 1: Waterfalls and Moss

After spending the previous day in Seattle, it was time for us to head towards the Pacific coast. To get there we had to first drive through Olympic National Park. Except there is no road that cuts through the park as there’s a giant mountain in the middle. Instead we had to drive all the way around. This gave us a good excuse to check out a few of the sights in and around the park along the way.

We spent the previous night in Port Angeles and from there it’s a short drive to one of the visitor centres. We got there a few minutes before it opened so we hiked along the Living Forest Trail (0.8 loop, rated easy). The trailhead is located by the Beaumont Cabin which is located behind the visitor centre. The log cabin was built in 1887 about a mile south of here by the Beaumont family. The cabin was later donated to the park to be used as an exhibit of pioneer life on the Olympic Peninsula. It was moved from its original site and has been restored and furnished with period pieces from the 1850s to 1900s. While the door to the cabin was locked, we could peak in through the windows.

The trail loops through the forest, providing a preview of the lush landscape with tall trees, ferns and moss. There were also a few storyboards which featured some poetry about nature.

By the time we finished the visitor centre was just opening, so we went inside to check out the exhibits and to pick up a larger map of the park. We initially planned to hike Hurricane Ridge, but the trail and road were closed for a major rehabilitation of the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge. No worries as there are plenty of other options to choose from.

We drove to Madison Falls (0.3km round trip, rated easy) where there’s a short path that’s paved that leads through the forest to an overlook of a waterfall. The only downside to it being so accessible was that we could hear the sounds of cars zooming by. But it’s a short trail, so we were back in the car in no time, adding to the noise.

We headed towards Crescent Lake and pulled over at an overlook. The lake was created as the glaciers receded about 13,000 years ago. From the lake we could really see just how overcast and gloomy it was. But at least it wasn’t raining. Yet. According to the weather forecast the rain was supposed to start later in the afternoon.

Our next stop was at the Storm King Ranger Station, which provides access to a few trails, many of which are interconnecting. We first hiked to Marymere Falls (2.7km round trip, rated easy). The trail passes the ranger station and meanders through the mossy forest. There was a turn-off for Mount Storm which is reputed to provide a lovely view of the surrounding area. But it’s a challenging trail with a lot of elevation gain, and we haven’t quite warmed up our hiking legs yet. After crossing a bridge, the path leads to an impressive waterfall.

It’s an out-and-back trail, but we made a detour to hike to Lake Crescent Lodge for a change of scenery and to ditch the crowds. We didn’t encounter a single hiker on the way. The path continues to weave through the lush forest with tall trees, gigantic ferns and moss hanging everywhere

The lodge is located along Crescent Lake. We strolled along the shoreline and found an access point to the Moments in Time Trail (1.1km loop, rated easy). The trail continues to follow the waterfront along Barnes Point before heading through the old-growth forest. Along the way there’s a series of storyboards that provide some fun facts about the lake and forest. It also provided more nice views of the lush landscape. The trail intersects with a connector path that leads to the King Storm Ranger Station, so we followed that back to where we parked.

After eating lunch, we drove towards Sol Duc Falls. Along the way, we stopped to hike the Ancient Groves Nature Trail (0.8km loop, rated easy). The path meanders through an old-growth forest filled with lots of towering trees, waist-high ferns and moss thickly covering the forest floor and everything else. You’d think we’d have gotten used to the lush scenery by now, but it continued to impress.

We hopped in the car and continued driving down Sol Duc Road until the very end where there’s a parking lot with access to the Sol Duc Falls Trail (2.6km round trip, rated easy). During the drive, we saw patches of snow along the side of the road, which progressively became larger and more frequent. So it was no surprise to see that some sections of the trail were still covered in snow. But the trail is well traveled and it wasn’t that big of a deal. If anything, it helped clean the mud and dirt off our hiking boots.

It’s an out-and-back trail that weaves through another lush forest. It was lightly misting outside which seemed fitting. The path leads to a waterfall. After crossing the bridge, there’s a few different viewing platforms that provided a different angle of the falls.

We turned around and walked back to the parking lot and continued our drive west towards the coastline. We planned to spend the night in Forks. Mid-way through the drive, it started to rain. Hard. So we decided to take the long way and make a detour to Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point of the lower 48 in the United States. It was a bit of a drive to get there, but we didn’t mind taking a break in the car while it continued to rain. We hoped that it would let up by the time we got there but it didn’t. If anything, it was getting worse.

There’s a short trail that leads to Cape Flattery (1.9km round trip). The sign at the trailhead said the hike should take 25 minutes. So we threw on our rain pants and rain jackets and got to it. Mid-way through I realized my rain pants were actually tucked inside by shoes, rather than around the outside, which meant the water was pooling inside my shoes. It was too late to fix things as the damage (or rather wetness) was already done.

The trail itself would have been quite nice in different conditions. The path is wide and contains a few boardwalk sections. But with all the rain, the water pretty much pooled along the trail, creating a small river that was often unavoidable to walk through. At this point my hiking boots were already wet, so it didn’t really matter. The trail leads to a point with a few different viewing platforms on either side overlooking the ocean and rugged shoreline. Despite the rain, the views were still beautiful.

We raced back to the car, eager to change out of our rain gear and wet hiking boots. We were done for the day and ready to head to our accommodations to take a hot shower. It continued to rain throughout the afternoon and evening.

Day 2: Rainforests and more Moss

The forecast was calling for more rain, but later in the morning. So we got an early start to the day. We started off at Rialto Beach where we planned to hike to the Hole-in-the-Wall (5.3km round trip, rated moderate). It’s an out-and-back trail that weaves along the beach to a sea stack with a hole through the middle. There is no defined trail as you’re mostly walking along the beach. The best time to hike it is during low tide, which was early this morning.

We were among some of the first people on the trail as there weren’t many footprints in the sand. Shortly after starting, we passed a couple of hikers who were returning from a multi-day backpacking trip and they gave us a heads up about the creek crossing and provided some advice on how to get across.

When we came across the creek, it was quite small and easy to hop over. But this wasn’t the one that the hikers had warned us about. After another hundred metres, there’s a much deeper creek with fast moving water that flows into the ocean. There was no way we could jump over to reach the other side. Instead we backtracked until we reached a jumble of driftwood, including some fallen logs that were scattered across the creek. We tested our balance on the driftwood and shimmied over to the other side. The logs were wet, but the sand on our shoes provided decent grip. We walked through the maze of driftwood until we passed the creek.

We then continued along the beach, passing a couple of haystack rocks, including the one with a hole in the middle. Since it was low tide, we could walk along the rocks to get a closer look and to check out some tide pools.

Once we circled back to the parking lot, we headed to the Hoh Rainforest area. It was a bit of a drive to get there, but it was very scenic with all the mossy trees. There’s a visitor centre at the end of the road, along with a few trails. We started with the Hall of Mosses (1.8km loop, rated easy) where the trail meanders through an older part of the forest. Many of the trees here, which include the Sitka spruce, Western hemlock, and Douglas fir, are over two hundred feet tall. And they were mainly covered in moss. Along the way there were a series of storyboards that provided some interesting information about the rainforest and the types of trees and other plants found here.

Afterwards we hiked the Spruce Nature Trail (2.3km loop, rated easy) to continue enjoying the rainforest scenery. The trail also passes the Hoh River and includes more storyboards with fun facts about the landscape. It started to lightly mist outside, which only added to the whole experience.

From there we headed back to the coastline and made a quick stop at Ruby Beach. From the parking lot, there’s a short, but steep path down to the shore where there’s a black pebbly beach with some interesting rock formations. We didn’t linger long as it started to rain.

Our next stop was at the Quinault Rainforest. We headed to the ranger station, located on the northern side of the lake where there are a couple of trails. It was still raining outside, so we put on our rain gear. We first hiked along the Maple Glade Trail (0.8km loop, rated easy), which leads through the temperate rainforest filled with even more moss (if that was possible). The trail was a bit rough from the rain, but we could easily maneuver around the puddles and muddy patches.

The trail connects with the Kestner Homestead Trail (2.1km loop, rated easy) to form a larger loop. This path continues to weave through the thick rainforest and follows along a creek where the water was crystal clear. The trail also passes a homestead, which includes a few old buildings that are remnants from the early settlers.

The trail loops back to the parking lot. We took off our rain gear as we were done hiking for the day. From here we still had a three hour drive south to get to Oregon where we planned to spend the next few days driving along the coastline.


79 thoughts on “Olympic National Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The lush and mossy forest looked very enchanting and the gloomy weather somehow only added to the whole vibe. I couldn’t help but feel so small compared to those tall trees and massive ferns.

  1. pennsivity says:

    Wow!!! Following in your footsteps and reading your commentary brought everything alive. Thanking you, sincerely, for the chance to view your varied and beautiful photos. Nature definitely gives us so much , we only need to open our eyes and view it, …✨🙏✨Penn✨

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Strolling through the forest felt very magical with all that moss and greenery. And the views of the ocean were breathtaking. It’s nature at its finest. Agreed, nature does give us so much. We just have to slow down sometimes, look what’s around us and enjoy the moment. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

  2. ourcrossings says:

    These are such beautiful photos, Linda 🙂 Hoh Rain forest is a lush, green, wonderfully wet example of the coastal temperate rainforest.

    Over the past few years, I’ve read many blog posts about Olympic National Park and it sort of grew on me. Can you just imagine that there is a place where you can visit and explore beaches, snow-capped mountains, and temperate forests all in one place? Not to mention wonderful wildflowers, animals and many tribes? Of course, I have to admit that there was a time when I was a die-hard Twilight fan, therefore there would be no better place to experience the blood-chilling mystery, excitement and romance of Twilight than Forks, La Push and the Hoh Rain Forest. Did you get to see the panoramic views from the top of Hurricane Hill too? Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words Aiva. The scenery in Olympic is stunning, especially the temperate rainforests. I couldn’t get over all the moss, which made the forest look so magical and enchanting. I hope you’re able to see it all for yourself someday given how much you enjoyed Twilight.

      Unfortunately Hurricane Ridge was closed, even to hikers, due to construction of the lodge. We were still quite early in the season so I imagine it would have been covered in snow too. Good thing there are plenty of other trails to choose from. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda

  3. kagould17 says:

    People think the Lower Mainland is wet, but I think the Olympic Peninsula is even wetter. It is so hard to find dry conditions here. Best to be prepared and put on rain gear and go enjoy the rainforest for the reason it was named. Spectacular scenery in any event Linda and worth wet feet. So glad you stuck with it and shared it with us. Cheers. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m never a fan of the rain or the dampness, but I didn’t mind it too much at Olympic as it seemed to just add to the whole ambiance of all the greenery and lushness. And you’re right, they don’t call it the rainforest for nothing. I’m glad we brought our rain gear. I just wish I wasn’t a dumb dumb and had put my rain pants on properly so all the water didn’t pool inside my boots. Oh well. Lessons learned and no regrets for completing the hike. At least I was able to somewhat dry my boots out in our hotel room overnight. But it did get pretty stinky. There’s something about getting your shoes wet that brings out the worst of all the smells. Thanks for reading. Linda

      • kagould17 says:

        Oh I recall stinky boots when I got mine wet on a 3 day back country hike. They were never right again, no matter what I did and I eventually had to throw them out….it was cheaper than moving. 😄

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I think I’m at that point too. I’ve had my hiking boots for awhile now. We’ve had a lot of great memories together, but it might be time to toss them.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. That’s awesome that you have relatives near Olympic and that you’ve been able to enjoy the spectacular scenery for yourself. I couldn’t get over all that moss. It made the forest look so enchanting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We certainly tried to make the most of our time in Olympic amongst the mossy rainforests. Despite the gloomy weather, we had a wonderful weekend.

  4. Laura says:

    Oh how I love all of these photos- they feel like home! 😍
    Now I know I must plan a visit to this area- I would love to visit the Hoh rainforest in particular and explore some of the Oregon Coast as well. I will definitely refer back to this post for trail and hike recommendations!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. We actually started to plan this trip after visiting Vancouver Island last spring and we knew we wanted to see more of the scenery along the west coast. The rainforests in Olympic are breathtaking with all that greenery and moss. It felt like we were walking through an enchanted forest. Hopefully you’re able to see it for yourself someday.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! Somehow the gloomy weather and all that rain just added to the whole vibe. They don’t call it the rainforest for nothing. No wonder everything is so lush and covered in moss.

  5. Ab says:

    What a beautiful two days you and K experienced, Linda. Love that photo of you cradled inside that tree.

    The Mossy Hall hike must’ve been amazing. Your photos look other worldly with those thickly covered trees. And while it must’ve sucked to have the rain, the gray day added to a beautiful eerie vibe by the beach areas, including that hole in the wall!

    Will need to remember to visit this when we get to visit Washington one day.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Despite the drab and dreary weather, we had a wonderful time exploring the lush scenery at Olympic. I couldn’t get over all that moss and just how huge some of the trees were. The rain wasn’t too bad, except for that one hike we did to Cape Flattery in the torrential downpour. But part of that was because I was a dumb dumb and didn’t have my rain pants on properly. Thankfully I was able to mostly dry them out overnight in our hotel room. But oh wow were they stinky. There’s something about getting your shoes wet that just brings out all the nasty smells. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Linda

  6. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    So wonderful post to view and read 🌹🙏👍🏻😍✍️ words are hard to describe the natural beauty of the land ,
    the beauty of the forest , fantastic waterfall, magnificent rocks ,and roaring beauty of the ocean 🌊 all mind
    blowing view and looking forward to seeing ♥️😊👌so beautiful place to visit and thankfully for sharing and
    Grace wishes my dear friend 🌹🙏♥️🌹

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Nature sure is beautiful. The scenery in Olympic looked magical with all those mossy trees, lush forests and views of the rugged coastline. Despite the gloomy weather, we had a wonderful time exploring the trails.

  7. Book Club Mom says:

    Hi Linda – such beautiful scenery. I was interested in your comment about not seeing any hikers on one of the trails. In my limited experience, we were on trails that were loaded with hikers. I’m not sure how confident I’d feel if we saw no one, but of course it’s definitely a trade-off. Now that I have a free pass for a year to all the national parks, Olympic National Park looks like one I’d like to visit. Thanks for sharing your pictures and experience!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Our strategy is to travel during the off-season when the trails are quieter. The weather and conditions on the trail can be hit or miss, but it’s a great way to avoid the crowds. That’s one of the reasons why we visited Olympic in April even though it was still considered the rainy season. We didn’t mind so much as the forest looked very lush. Hopefully you’re able to visit Olympic to make good use of your annual parks pass. We bought one too when we visited Utah in January and are trying to do the same!

      • Book Club Mom says:

        That’s neat! We did a steep (they said it was easy but I was out of breath!) trail and there were signs out from the winter warning hikers about icy steps – because the rocks were weeping. I wouldn’t want to try that in the colder months, but one of the trails was closed because of snow melt so it’s a tradeoff. That plus the crowds. Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s true. When we visited Capitol Reef National Park in Utah in January, we were unable to complete one of the trails due to the icy conditions. The silly thing was was that we brought microspikes with us, but we left them in the car. The snow melt would also be tricky to deal with as they can make all the rocks slippery.

  8. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Such a great post; thanks for taking us along on your trip! Having wet feet is miserable but a fact of life in coastal BC and Washington state. There’s so much precipitation that you just have to take it in stride (literally). Your beach photos are stunning and I love the one of you inside the tree!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Having wet feet is the worst. I should have known better about putting my rain pants on properly, but here we are. I was able to somewhat dry them out overnight in our hotel room, but oh wow did they stink up our room. I love the scenery along the west coast, but I’m not sure I could handle all that rain. Thankfully once we left Olympic we had nothing but blue skies and sunshine for the rest of our trip, which was a pleasant surprise.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The weather was a bit gloomy and rainy, which seemed oddly fitting. No wonder the landscape is so lush with all that moss and all those ferns. Plus we got our first glimpse of the Pacific coast.

  9. thehungrytravellers.blog says:

    Absolutely lovely places and wonderful scenery, great stuff. As you say, it isn’t possible to tire of beautiful scenery, and you definitely found a big helping of it on this trip. Absolutely lovely.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The forest looked so enchanting with all that moss. It was hard to focus on the trail when all I wanted to do is keep looking around and enjoy my surroundings. The scenery never gets old, even in the rain.

  10. Bama says:

    Every time I read your hiking post, my mind immediately wanders to some picturesque hills and mountains both here in Indonesia and abroad. I really need to get myself hiking again! Being surrounded by so much greenery really is the best therapy. That hike to the Hole-in-the-Wall sounds quite an adventure though.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There are so many benefits to spending time in nature. It’s honestly my happy place. It always helps me de-stress and puts things into perspective. I couldn’t agree more how it’s the best form of therapy. Plus hiking is a great way to also get some exercise. The hike to the Hole-in-the-Wall is not our average trail, largely because it was a bit of a choose your own adventure along the beach and through the driftwood. Crossing the creek was a bit nerve racking, but it was much easier the second time around.

  11. Diana says:

    Love it! I haven’t been here in bout 15 years and while some of this looks familiar, I’m pretty sure I never hiked some of these trails. Time for a return trip!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s always neat to return somewhere you’ve been and see how much you remember. Plus the scenery in Olympic just never gets old. You get the best of both worlds in terms of hiking through the mossy forests and along the rugged coastline.

  12. TCKlaire says:

    My parents have said that there’s so much rain in the rainforests in Washington that the air is green. Looks like you caught it when it wasn’t green

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh gosh! Now that would be quite the sight combined with all the lush greenery. I’m typically not a fan of the rain, but it seemed rather fitting when we were hiking through the rainforest.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Olympic National Parks seems to have it all when it comes to the scenery. I should have known better about putting my rain pants on properly. But lessons learned. I was mostly able to dry them out overnight, but oh wow did they stink! And thankfully we had nothing but blue skies after leaving the park.

  13. wetanddustyroads says:

    I love your hikes through the forests with those tall trees (love the mossy trees on your second day). It almost reminded me of a recent hike we did (the post will be on our blog tomorrow). But of course we had no snow on our trail 😉. I bet you were glad to get out of the rain (and out of your wet hiking boots) at the end of these hikes. Beautiful photos – storybook material!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Our walks through the temperate rainforest felt magical with all that moss draped everywhere. But I guess they don’t call in the rainforest for nothing. All that rain can be tough to deal with, especially when you start to feel the dampness and cold. I’m glad to say the weather improved considerably once we left the park and continued our drive south along the Pacific Coast.

  14. Jyothi says:

    Great captures !!!! Olympic National park has everything in it, it is beautiful with most diverse landscapes. Thanks for bringing back wondaful memories!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I couldn’t agree more about how Olympic seems to have a bit of everything in terms of the terrain and landscape. And the views are incredible. Despite the gloomy weather, we had a wonderful time exploring the landscape.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We were a bit concerned about visiting Olympic early in the spring since it’s still considered the wet season. But the trails weren’t that bad and if anything, the forest was at its peak in terms of lushness. Hopefully you’re able to visit soon.

  15. Mike and Kellye Hefner says:

    What a great couple of days you guys had at Olympic! We haven’t been there yet, but can’t wait to visit – especially after reading your post. Your pictures are stunning. I love that you didn’t let a little rain stop your adventure. Safe travels.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We were visiting during the rainy season so at least we knew what we were getting into it. For the most part the rain wasn’t too bad, just during that one hike where it became a torrential downpour. But hey, at least we didn’t have to deal with any crowds and we got to see the forest when it was at it’s peak in terms of lushness. It’s all about tradeoffs. I was pleasantly surprised that once we left the park, we didn’t encounter anymore rain for the rest of our road trip.

  16. Dawn Minott says:

    Wow wow wowwwww so many great points of interest. Every time I think this is the point I’m most excited about then there’s another. A log cabin from 1887–talk about being IN history. You in the trunk of that tree—priceless 😊 Loved this early sabbath morning hike Linda!!!!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The scenery in Olympic was stunning, especially in the rainforests with all those tall trees and moss draped everything. It felt very enchanting. It’s hard to believe an entire family fit into that single room cabin back in the day!

      • Dawn Minott says:

        Yes, enchanted, that was exactly the word I felt especially the moss on cabin roof. Back then they lived on necessity, now we live on things and more things cause the Jones’s always have more things than us

  17. BrittnyLee says:

    These places are incredible. The mossy trees are superb. They remind me of other worlds. They look so ethereal. On a side note, I hope you are safe. I read about the fires in Canada. Ive been praying for you and yours. I hope you’re ok.

  18. rkrontheroad says:

    Is that moss or algae on the Beaumont Cabin? The hanging greenery and moss by the tunnel entrance is so lush. Must be due to all those northwestern rains.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I just assumed it was moss, but now that you mention it, it could be algae. Either way, everything in Olympic is draped in greenery. It definitely rains here a lot! I guess they don’t call it a rain forest for nothing.

  19. Bernie says:

    Those low-lying clouds on the first day are so cool to look at, but all the hiking in the rain is not so cool! You got some amazing shots. Beach walks are often hard, and stream crossings can be tricky, but I am sure you two made it look easy..

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I guess they don’t call it the rainforest for nothing! I’ve never been a fan of hiking in the rain, but I’m glad I sucked it up as the scenery in Olympic was stunning with all that moss. I know what you mean about walking along the beach. It always looks so easy, but it can definitely be a challenge when you’re sinking in the sand or when there is a stream crossing with no clear path across. But I’m glad we managed to keep our hiking boots dry-ish (although they were still a bit wet from all that rain from the day before).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. The forest looked so magical with all that greenery and moss draped everywhere and anywhere. It was hard to put down my camera.

  20. Wetravelhappy says:

    Oh wow I’m so glad I came across your post (and following you now too!). This reminded me of Twilight, the movie, especially the picture and story of your hike in Ancient Groves. 🙂 And snow to clean your boots! hahah that gave me a smile this morning and made me miss snow. It’s 34 degrees here in Singapore right now and the thought of snow adds some positivity to the day. Thank you for sharing. — Amor

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment. I’m such a fan of all the moss and greenery along the west coast. When we went to Oregon, we ended up going to one of the spots, Ecola State Park, where scenes from Twilight were filmed. I couldn’t get over how incredibly scenic the coastline is. I know what you mean about the heat, now that it’s summer, there are days where I dream about the snow. Take care. Linda

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