Outbound for the Olympics
Posted In: Reflections | April 2021
In need of a reprieve from, well, everything? Escape to Olympic National Park and bask in the remote beauty of some of Washington’s harder-to-access areas. The payoff for going the extra mile? Less crowds, more peace, and a heightened natural experience.
Hoh Rain forest
The most well-known and iconic rain forest in the park, the Hoh is named after the massive, rushing Hoh River that runs off Mount Olympus’s glaciated walls. There are three main trails that wind through the lush forests—Hall of Mosses (.8 miles), Hoh River Trail (18.5 miles) and Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). Each offers a unique perspective of gorgeous land carpeted with dense flora from the plentiful precipitation.
Quinault Rain forest
Lake Quinault and the surrounding Quinault Valley are the main features of this rain forest and offer a multitude of recreational activities for the whole family. Nearly 40 campsites at three separate campgrounds are available for those who want to stay. Visitors can relax in the natural beauty, but also beware that large animal sightings are common here. Both black bear and Roosevelt elk are known to frequent the area.
Bogachiel Rain forest
This rarely-talked-about rain forest is the only lowland forest of the bunch, but it still offers plenty of magic and chance encounters with wildlife. The best way to experience this beauty is to hike the trail that follows the Bogachiel River. The total trip is roughly 12 miles, but with only 400 feet of elevation gain, it’s doable for hikers of all levels, as long as you’re okay with a little solitude.
This rain forest is for advanced adventurers only. Considered one of the most remote places in the country, few people (but many bears) have found their way to the end of the trails. Those who venture out are rewarded by up-close, unparalleled encounters of Mount Olympus, but you will have to work to get there and commit to a few nights in the backcountry.
Shi Shi Beach, Second Beach, Ozette Triangle, Rialto Beach—the list of rugged coastal beach spots is long, and you won’t be disappointed with any of them if you’re searching for sea stacks, tide pools, wild waves and pristine campgrounds. If you’re on the hunt for a truly unique site to see, visit the Kalaloch Tree Root Cave, a stunning natural phenomenon located close to the campgrounds.
Forks and La Push grew in popularity after appearing as the settings for movies and TV series, and Ocean Shores has long been known as a family vacation destination. But there are plenty of lesser known yet equally charming towns that fly a little further under the radar. Topping the list is Westport, a surfer’s paradise with three surf breaks that offer swells for athletes of all levels. Head farther south and visit Moclips for some true seclusion and rugged beauty.
This is the go-to spot for classic views of the Olympic Mountains. You can drive or hike right up to the edge and soak it all in, making it perfect for the whole crew. There is a very helpful visitors’ center open daily during the summer. There, you’ll find all the information you need to embark on the excursion of your choosing. From mild to wild, this area has it all.
Mt. Storm King
An intermediate trail, this path takes you up roughly 1,000 feet of elevation gain per mile, but the outlook at the top is well worth the grind. If you make the trip, you’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled glimpse of Lake Crescent, framed by famous nearby peaks such as Mount Ellinor. While the round trip is only four miles, be prepared for a healthy dose of adrenaline as the top requires some rope-assisted navigation.
You’ve probably seen these prominent peaks shining proudly beyond the Seattle skyline, but to stand atop them it takes a grueling 18 miles and a little bit of climbing expertise. However, it’s a perfectly approachable two-day backpacking trip for those who have bagged a bunch of day hikes. As an added bonus, on the way to the summit, you’ll enjoy strolling by Lena Lake and Upper Lena Lake.