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Olympic National Park

I was born and raised in Washington state.(PNW), left 20 years ago and now we are going to Lake Chelan for a few nights next month. After, I would like to explore Olympic National Park. I’m ashamed to say I have only ever been to Hurricane Ridge! We will have 3 to 4 nights. Any PNW forum folks who can suggest lodging, easy hikes, itinerary?
I have done a bit of research and it looks like lodging in the park will be open after June 12th, this works for us as we will be there later in the month.

Posted by
8629 posts

Hi Tammy,
I live near ONP and usually there is a great deal to explore there. The park is primarily closed at this time, but is slowly opening up sections of the park. Some of the lodging is due to open the last week of May or first week of June. Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rain forest and the Ocean Beaches are currently closed as well.

A section of shoreline at Lake Crescent is open. There are several short hikes in this area that are quite popular such as Marymere Falls. A very popular trail on the other side of the lake is closed due to construction for the entire season.

Here are the current opening dates for the lodges
Lake Crescent May 29
Lake Quinault May 29
Kalaloch June 12
Log Cabin Resort June 12

Be sure to look at the website for each facility carefully. For example, some currently stress that food service will be take out only. You will want to know the situation you are getting into. The lodges at ONP generally aren't near a lot of other food options. I did notice that Kalaloch states its stairs to the beach are currently out of service so one would need to access the beach through the nearby campground (which is currently closed).

You will find that the Olympic Peninsula has taken the lockdown measures fairly seriously, especially compared to some of the news reports one sees about the rest of the country. The Makah tribe has completely shut out anyone from their reservation so no hikes out to Cape Flattery. I did notice that some restaurants are starting an outdoor service this week.

One excellent hike that is not in the park, but is open, is the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge outside of Sequim. I've hiked there a few times in the last week and there is hardly anyone else out.

My biggest advice is make sure that you know what the current conditions are for your particular arrival dates. Things are beginning to open up and the situation is fluid. It is a long way to travel if most things are still closed.

Feel free to PM me with more specific questions.

Posted by
6670 posts

Kalaloch would be a great place to stay if you can get food there or bring it with you. Some of the cabins have kitchens. While there may not be beach access right there, nearby Ruby Beach should be open and, I think, is even more interesting.

Besides the lodges Carol mentioned, there are numerous motels in Sequim, Port Angeles, and Forks. The Red Lion in Port Angeles is right on the harbor and very nice. It will take all day to drive to the peninsula from Lake Chelan, and you'll want to take one of the state ferries to get across Puget Sound. The ferries have been running on a winter schedule, less frequent, and on summer weekends there can be long waits under normal conditions. You'll need do do some research here.

There should be good easy hikes around the edges of the park and on the beaches, but you'll have to check the park website to see what's open. It would be a shame to miss the Hoh rain forest, but any lowland trail on the west side of the park would give you a similar experience. One great beach experience, if it's open and you have the time and energy, is to drive to Lake Ozette and hike three miles out to the beach on either of two trails. Three miles of beach connect the trails, so you can do a nine-mile triangle or either of two six-mile round trips, all level. Good weather helps, and can't be counted on in June.

Hope you have a wonderful trip. Spend lots of money on taxable goods, please! ;-)

Posted by
16094 posts

Just to add to Carol's excellent post....

Pretty sure you've already found this but if not, it's a great resource:

Doesn't sound like you'll do Hurricane Ridge again so will skip that (we stayed in Port Angeles for that one and some of the Elwha). For Lake Crescent, Hoh Rain forest (left P.A. early in the morning and did a hike at both on our way to the western coast) and the beaches, we stayed in Forks. It's not the most scenic or exciting place ever but was centrally located to the things we wanted to do, suited our budget at the time (the park lodges were really expensive) and gave us more variety of places to eat in the evening than the lodges. This was our choice for accommodations, and we'd happily stay there again:

LOL, I'd skip the Twilight-themed "Bella Suite". IMHO, it has shades of a bordello. HA!

We loved the Pacific beaches as we live far from an ocean so spent a lot of time checking them all out. You'll have to work around the tides for tidepooling and to safely access some parts of them without getting stranded.

Some of the trails to the beaches are also longer than others. For instance, Third Beach was a 1.2 mile hike in but Rialto is just a short walk from the parking lot. Second Beach (3/4 mile hike in) was our favorite and we did it twice, once in dense morning fog and again at early evening low tide. That one had lots of pink, orange and purple starfish and green anemone in the tidepools! Ruby was nice too and is a favorite with park visitors. Be very, very careful crossing the tidal-thrown piles of logs you may have to cross over to get from trail end to sand. They are extremely slippery when wet, and the piles can be loose so will shift under your feet.

Appropriately, it was pouring buckets when we were at the Hoh so we did the three easy trails (Mini Trail, Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail) and called it a day. The Hoh River is the most interesting blue-gray color from ground-up glacier particles!

Lake Crescent: we combined parts of Barnes Creek, Marymere Falls, Moments in Time and some spurs into a loop from the Storm King Ranger station. None of it was difficult and it was a very pleasant morning trek.

Posted by
1 posts

Thanks Carol, Dick and Kathy for your lengthy replies and Tammy for posing the question! You've helped another traveler as well hoping to visit the ONP this summer. Didn't expect to find all this great detail here.

Posted by
3334 posts

Sometimes "these unprecedented times" can grate on a person and for me, today was one of those times. But this post and replies brought back memories of my 1975 (!) backpacking trip to Olympic National Park. At the time, I honestly could not believe how beautiful it was. I still can't believe how beautiful it is.

Thanks to diveloonie aka Tammy for posting and to everybody who shared those wonderful links.

Posted by
8629 posts

I just wanted to add this link to the list

This website is run by a lovely woman who loves hiking and is a destination expert for Olympic National Park over on Trip Advisor. It has a lot of good planning information on it.

Posted by
1112 posts

You have soome really good advice in the above posts. I have not been out there this spring, but one of my friends was just out by Lake Cresent a couple weeks ago and had a great time.

Likewise, the trails to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd beaches out of La Push are great! Second is by far the most scenic. Stay in La Push if you can, not Forks.

There's also a good chance you'll see whales if you go out to Neah Bay. If nothing else the view across the Strait is fantastic on clear days.

Don't forget your rain gear, and if you hike out to the Coast make sure you watch the tides as you can get cut off on some of the trails.

Posted by
5837 posts

Also 1975 way back with memories of driving the Olympic Peninsula from Lake Quinault to Port Angeles. Rain at Lake Quinault started the afternoon we checked in at Lake Quinault, continued during the morning as we checked out and got heavier on our drive north to the Hoh Rain Forest and didn't stop until we reached Por Angeles. There is a good reason the Hoh valley is called a rainforest. If you are hiking bring full waterproof rain gear - waterproof hooded jacket, rain pants, gaiters, waterproof boots, waterproof map case and a change of dry clothing and especially extra pair(s) of dry wool socks.