hikes in Olympic National Park
Covering 4000 square meters in the Olympic Peninsula, the Olympic National Park is the jewel of Washington State, concealing a rich cultural and natural heritage. This gorgeous corner of the United States boasts a wild coastline, lush temperate rainforests, and glacier-clad peaks that tower over it all. Hiking in Olympic National Park is a dream come true – come and discover this remarkable wilderness.
The Olympic National Park is most famous for the Hoh Rainforest, a dense temperature rainforest through which flows the mighty Hoh River. Hiking the Hoh River trail is an otherworldly experience, passing through trees covering in trailing mosses and lichens. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a fantasy world, with mythical creatures hiding behind every mossy rock.
Beyond the rainforest, the Olympic National Park offers yet more attractions, rising through subalpine forest to high ridges and grassy meadows, covered in wildflowers. Alternatively, head for the coast, where you’ll find wild beaches, dramatic rock formations, and crashing waves. It could take a lifetime to uncover all of the hidden secrets this remarkable national park has to offer. To help you decide where to start, we’ve put together a list of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park!
Types Of Hiking In Olympic National Park
There are so many different types of hiking in Olympic National Park, you certainly won’t have difficulty finding a trail to suit you! The unique position of this beautiful park means it has it all, from rocky coastline and lush forests to towering mountains. If you’re a keen adventurer looking for a challenge in some remarkable scenery, this is the place for you.
However, the Olympic National Park is also an ideal destination for families. Kids will love exploring the lush paths that snake through the Hoh Rainforest, or playing on the rock pools and beaches of the Pacific Coast. You’ll find trails to suit all fitness levels and abilities, and this is a wonderful way to introduce younger kids to the joys of backpacking.
Easy Hikes In Olympic National Park
Hole in the Walk Hike: This short, stunning trail is one of the best easy hikes in Olympic National Park. You’ll skirt the edge of the Pacific Ocean and make your way along the pebble beach to the impressive rock formations at the far end. For the best view out over the water, climb the short, steep forest trail up to the ridge, where you’ll have a fabulous outlook over the beach and ocean.
Family Hikes In Olympic National Park
Marymere Falls Hike: The short, easy route to Marymere Falls is a family favorite, and a great option for young kids. The lush temperate rainforest trail will transport your into another world, and the image of the falls cascading down into the gorge is a beautiful sight. The trail is steep in places, but very well maintained, with handrails and wooden bridges.
Day Hikes In Olympic National Park
High Divide Loop Hike: If you want to set out on a classic day hike in Olympic National Park, this popular trail is probably your best option. You’ll pass along a gorgeous continuous ridge, high above the treeline, offering some truly epic views over Mount Olympus. The steep climb is well worth the effort, and you’ll enjoy varied terrain, beginning in lush forest before rising to the stark, rocky ridge.
Challenging Hikes In Olympic National Park
Royal Basin Hike: Looking for one of the most stunning and challenging hikes in Olympic National Park? Look no further than this glorious trail, which follows Royal Creek all the way up to Royal Basin. It’s a steep climb, but well worth the effort, as you’ll pass by a gorgeous lake, a grassy plateau, and breathtaking views over the nearby mountains.
Greatest Hikes In Olympic National Park
Hoh River Trail Hike: The Hoh River Trail is, without doubt, one of the best hikes in Olympic National Park, largely as a result of the lush, temperate Hoh Rainforest. Walking through this natural paradise is like stepping into a fairytale, with moss and lichen hanging from the trees, creating a mythical ambience. The route passes along the river until Five Mile Island campground, home to deer and elk, and an excellent place for wildlife watching.
Third Beach Hike: This easy hike will take you to the stunning Third Beach, where it’s easy to while away several hours exploring the sands and rocky outcrops. Don’t miss the lovely waterfall at the eastern edge of the beach. This is also a fun place for an easy family backpacking trip, and kids are sure to love picnicking on the beach!
Obstruction Point Hike: This undulating trail is one of the best hikes in Olympic National Park, and it’s a great option if you’re looking for a way to escape the crowds in the busy season. The landscape here is stark and otherworldly, with black rocks covered in lichen and stunning views over the valley.
Klahhane Ridge Hike: If you’re looking for a spectacular hike that won’t require too much energy, head up to Klahhane Ridge. This beautiful trail is manageable for most moderately fit hikers, and you’ll enjoy incredible views over Mount Olympus and the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Pick a clear day, and you’ll see the Olympic National Park at its best.
Ozette Triangle Hike: This quiet trail is the perfect way to get away from the crowds. Tucked away in the northwest corner of the Olympic National Park, this route will take you along a series of boardwalks to a beautiful rocky beach, best explored at low tide. You’ll enjoy fresh sea air and some remarkable rock formations, before heading back to the trailhead along a different route.
Lake Angeles Hike: The hike up to Lake Angeles requires a stiff climb, but the stunning vista at the top is well worth all the effort! The serene waters of Lake Angeles are surrounded by fortress-like mountains, and you’ll see an enigmatic island floating in the middle. The peaks and forests are perfectly reflected in the still waters, making this a wonderful place for snapping some stunning photos.
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Olympic National Park?
It’s possible to get out on the trail throughout the year, but the best time to hike in Olympic National Park is between April and September, when you can expect the best weather, plenty of wildlife, and open trails and campgrounds throughout the park. Spring is a particularly lovely season to visit, with fewer hikers on the trails, and abundant wildlife, from black bears to Roosevelt elk. Higher-elevation trails and campgrounds start to open up from May onwards, although there’s always a chance of late snows on higher ground. July and August are the most popular months for visitors, with gorgeous wildflowers, good weather, and accessible hiking routes. However, you will need to compete with lots of other hikers for space on the popular trails.
To experience the park at its most spectacular, come in September, when you can expect remarkable fall colors in the trees, and the incredible spectacle of rutting elk (with their distinctive bugle call!). The snows typically hold off until October, but the crowds are thinner, meaning you’re more likely to have the trail to yourself. Although lower-elevation trails are accessible in winter, they are likely to be very wet, but you can try your hand at snowshoeing, skiing, sledding and snowboarding on higher ground. Whatever time of year you choose to visit, remember that the weather in the Olympic National Park can be very unpredictable, so come prepared!
Other Outdoor Activities In Olympic National Park
Although hiking is by far the preferred option, there are plenty of other outdoor activities in Olympic National Park! This beautiful natural spot is an ideal location for backpacking and camping trips, with lots of excellent routes and campgrounds. The coastal location of the park, together with its many rivers and lakes, provide an abundance of watersports, including boating, canoeing, kayaking and tidepooling. Explore local wildlife with park rangers, or gaze at the night sky on a specially organized stargazing expedition. In winter, you can always try your hand at snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding.
How To Plan A Trip To Olympic National Park
Is a hiking trip in the Olympic National Park on your bucket list? If not, it should be! To make your life a little easier, we’ve put together everything you need to know about planning a trip to Olympic National Park, covering the best places to visit, best accommodation options, and of course, all our favorite hiking trails! There’s never been a better time to explore this lush, natural marvel of Washington State.
Frequently-Asked-Questions About Olympic National Park
How many days do you need in Olympic National Park?
There are enough wonderful trails and activities on offer in Olympic National Park to keep keen adventurers busy for weeks on end! However, as most of us don’t have the luxury of that much time, we’d recommend staying for at least 3-5 days, allowing you to take in parts of the Hoh Rainforests, the beaches, and some mountain scenery before you leave.
Can you drive through Olympic National Park?
The vast majority of the Olympic National Park is intentionally road-less, as part of an endeavor to preserve the lush beauty and wilderness of this natural haven for wildlife. However, it is possible to drive along some roads that enter parts of the park, such as US Highway 101, which skirts the Olympic Peninsula and offers some excellent viewpoints and picnic spots.
Can you see the Northern Lights from Olympic National Park?
It’s very rare to see the Northern Lights at such a southerly latitude, but occasionally, they have been seen faintly from the Olympic National Park.Read More
The best hikes in Olympic National Park
Yes, there are more than 10
Olympic National Park is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Olympic National Park that you should take a look at as well
Are we missing your favourite hike?
Tell us! If you've got photos, a GPS track and know the hike, we'd love to share your favourite hike with the rest of the 10Adventures community.