The Best Way to See It All
Whether hiking or taking a leisurely stroll, there's no better way to experience the Olympic Peninsula than on foot. Take your pick of seven unique beaches, well groomed hiking trails in Washington, meandering creeks and magnificent ancient forests to explore a few hours away from Seattle. "Easy access" hiking trails are designed for people of all ages and abilities, and ideal for families.
Sol Duc Hiking
At Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, the famous Lover's Lane Loop (six miles round-trip) is accessible from the back of the resort. This hike leads you into the old growth forest, along the Sol Duc River, crossing at Sol Duc Falls in northwest Washington. This is one of the popular hiking trails in the Sol Duc Area.
For longer hikes or overnight camping (permit required), the Seven Lakes Basin area offers Mountain Lake and excellent views of Mount Olympus from High Divide. Heart Lake in the Seven Lakes Basin area is the only Washington camping area to make the Wilderness Society's top 10 romantic nature outings as reported in the Peninsula Daily News in 2010 in Washington.
Hiking Guide: Sol Duc Hiking Brochure (PDF)
Lake Crescent Hiking
At Lake Crescent Lodge, the Marymere Falls Hiking Trail is 3/4 of a mile from the Storm King Ranger Station in northwest Washington. The 90-foot drop from Falls Creek into a small plunge pool is a fairly flat hike through old growth forest, except for the final approach, which is fairly steep. This fall is generally available for year-round views, and during the summer months the National Park offers nature tours in northwest Washington.
At mile-high Hurricane Ridge, during the summer season a hike to Hurricane Hill on a clear day can offer a 360-degree view, north across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, Canada or the southern view of the glacier clad Mount Olympus. While walking the hiking trail view sub-alpine flowers like lupine, Indian Paintbrush and avalanche lilies. Be listening for the whistle of a marmot, which are frequently seen and heard in this northwest Washington area. Whistle back to the marmot and he will whistle back to you.
Starting at Fairholm General Store, you can continue on down the Camp David Junior Road on the north side of Lake Crescent from Fairholm to hook up with the Olympic Discovery Trail and the Spruce Railroad Trail, which takes you near a couple of train tunnels. On a clear day in this area you can look deep into the pristine lake and make out the shadows of a train engine that fell into the lake many years ago.
Hiking Guide: Lake Crescent Hiking Brochure (PDF)
Interpretive Barnes Creek Hike
Olympic National Park in Washington protects nearly one million acres of land, and 95% of that is designated Wilderness. Get a taste of journeying into the heart of Olympic wilderness on this guided hike that follows the Barnes Creek ravine, home to the rare Crescenti cutthroat trout in northwest Washington. The trail has a few challenging steep sections, and there will be a creek-side break at the half-way point, an ideal place for a picnic lunch. Cost $35; Length: 2 ½ hours.
Interpretive Marymere Falls Hike
Walk with a Lodge Guide through one of the last remaining stands of ancient Pacific Northwest Washington forests and feel the spray of 90-foot Marymere Falls as you breathe some of the cleanest air around. Learn about the people who have hiked this trail throughout history, and the different ways they have used the unique plants that grow here in northwest Washington. This hiking trail is mostly flat until it climbs a staircase built for viewing the falls. Cost: Free; Length: 1 ½ hours.
Interpretive Moments in Time Night Hike
When night falls, the primeval forest surrounding Lake Crescent Lodge is transformed into a moon-lit landscape. This easy 1-hour hike allows visitors to explore the forest’s “changing of the guard” as the night light illuminates the lives of nocturnal animals. Cost: Free; Length: 1 hour.
Interpretive Mount Storm King Hike
Mount Storm King looms behind the lodge at an impressive 4,537 feet of elevation in northwest Washington. This strenuous 3-hour hike will go to the end of the park-maintained trail at a spectacular viewpoint; guests who choose to venture beyond this point will be advised to use great caution and hike at their own risk. During the 2,000-foot elevation gain, guests will learn about the different forest zones and unique geology of the Olympic Mountains. Cost $35 Length: 3 hours.
Lake Quinault Hiking
Hiking is a natural way to explore this special Washington area nearby Seattle. Short or long, leisurely or invigorating, you'll find a great variety of hikes here. There are more than 15 well-maintained trails for you to explore, each offering a different perspective on this diverse ecosystem. These hiking trails are a great way to experience the Quinault Valley, so you may want to hike more than once during your visit. Please feel free to ask the Lake Quinault Lodge front desk for a map of these hiking trails in the Washington area. Here are our five most popular hiking trails for you to consider:
World’s Largest Spruce Tree Trail:
An easy one-third mile walk, this maintained trail is a great warm up. The trail goes to the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce, as determined by the American Forestry Association, and can be accessed from a gravel pull-off just past the Rain Forest Resort Village about a mile past the Lake Quinault Lodge. No visit to the Quinault rainforest would be complete without visiting this 1000-year old giant. Once used to build airplanes, the Sitka spruce is an ‘indicator species’, growing only in a temperate rainforest. This Sitka Spruce is one of 6 record-breaking trees located in the Quinault Valley. Leashed dogs are permitted on this trail.
US Forest Service Nature Trail System:
Located across from the Lodge are 8 miles of inter-connected, beautiful nature hiking trails complete with occasional interpretive signs. Hikes as short as a half mile are available. Leashed dogs are permitted on these trails.
When people think of the temperate rainforest, they picture the long, draping Oregon selaginella moss, and the tree that attracts that moss is the Big Leaf Maple. The Maple Glade Trail is only one-half mile in length and absolutely beautiful. Located in the Quinault rainforest, 6 miles off Hwy 101 on the North Shore Road at the Park Service ranger station (open in summers), the trail is easy to get to. In the early morning or late evening the low angle of the sun back-lights the mosses and huge leaves and the forest displays every color of green imaginable. This is an easy trail, no hills, maintained by the Park Service; “handicapped accessible with assistance”. If you have time for only one short hike, this is the one to do. Dogs are not permitted on National Park Service trails.
Kestner Homestead Trail:
Anton Kestner arrived here in 1889 and set about claiming his land under the Federal Homestead Act. He and his family lived on the North Shore homesteading the land for many years. The Park Service has developed a trail into the Homestead which is in the process of being restored as an interpretative area. For a glimpse into the past, park at the North Shore Ranger Station and access the Kestner Homestead trail via the Maple Glade trail. You may walk this trail alone or with the Park Ranger during scheduled walks during the summer. Dogs are not permitted on this trail.
World’s Largest Western Red Cedar Trail:
This trail is only one-third of a mile in length but is steep with deep steps. It was constructed in the ‘30s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and during the heavy rains of winter can acquire many of the characteristics of a stream so go prepared! This tree has a ‘cathedral’ top and buttress roots giving it multiple ‘rooms’ at the base. This is one of the 6 record-breaking trees in the Quinault Valley. Dogs are not permitted on this National Park trail.
Pony Bridge Trail
The Pony Bridge Trail is perfect for those who wish to get into the back country—but not too far into the back country! The trailhead is located about 17 miles up the South Shore Road past Lake Quinault Lodge. Park at the Graves Creek Trailhead (at the end of the road) and begin your two and one-half mile (each way) hike through old growth forest. The trail is well marked but be aware that trail conditions can change during winter storms so winter and early-spring hiking may require a certain amount of clambering over fallen trees or other debris. The trail rises gradually most of the way and then drops down to the Pony Bridge. Trekking poles or a hiking stick are handy during the descent to the bridge due to water that can be flowing down the trail much of the year. Roosevelt elk are often seen along this trail and you should also watch out for black bear. Be sure to read the cautionary signs at all trailhead. Dogs are not permitted on this National Park trail.
Hiking Guide: Lake Quinault Hiking Brochure (PDF)
Hurricane Ridge Hiking
Hurricane Ridge offers great hiking with many hiking trails, along with its winter skiing program in northwest Washington. We recommend you start at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center where exhibits, orientation movie and restrooms are available year-round. The information desk is staffed in the summer and on the weekends from late December to late March. Ranger programs are offered starting in late June through September. A gift shop with snack bar is open mid May to late September, as well as weekends starting in mid December to late March.
The Hurricane Ridge Road in Washington is open 24 hours a day from mid-May into October. The rest of the year it opens (weather permitting) primarily on weekends. Call 360-565-3131 for a 24-hour road and weather recording. Picnic Areas A and B (summer only), one mile beyond the visitor center, have restrooms, water and paved trails to tables. In winter, visitors may picnic upstairs in the visitor center.
Regulations: Please stay on designated trails and do not feed wildlife. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on paved or dirt trails.
Hiking Guide: Hurricane Ridge Hiking Brochure (PDF)