Hikes in Olympic National Park

Region in Washington State, United States

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.

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Best Hikes in Olympic National Park

Open details for Hoh Rainforest Hike

Hoh Rainforest Hike

Very Easy
1.8 km
24 m
0.5h

Hoh Rainforest is one of the most-visited trails in Olympic National Park. You’ll wander through lush temperate rainforest on an easy, family-friendly trail. You’ll see massive old hemlocks, spruce, ferns, and mosses. Watch for Coho salmon swimming in the creek, and name all the species of plant and animal you can. This is a true Washington rainforest adventure and it’s very accessible for beginners and young children.

The trail presents no real challenge and is conveniently located near a visitor center and a campground. Although this trail gets busy, we recommend making the trip if you’re in the park. If you can, visiting on a weekday offers the best chance of a quieter trail.

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Open details for Mount Storm King

Mount Storm King

Hard
8.5 km
633 m
3-4.5h

Mount Storm King is a hard hike in Olympic National Park. This hike is the site of a signature shot overlooking Lake Crescent, so you’ll see plenty of cameras out and the top. It’s not too long of a trek, taking most people about 3 or 4 hours, making it a popular destination for views that feel much further away.

Mount Storm King has a rope climbing section to aid in getting up the steep summit, but anyone feeling less inclined to take on the steepest section can enjoy viewpoints along the way that offer similar sights. This hike isn’t one to do in poor weather since the trail can get too slick to safely climb and the upper portion of the trail is unmaintained. If you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll love the summit!

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Open details for Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge

Moderate
5.5 km
252 m
1.5-2.5h

Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge is a perfect hike for beginners, families with kids, strollers, and hikers using wheelchairs, who can enjoy the first quarter mile. This 5.5 km route is paved and extremely easy to follow, allowing you to simply enjoy the expansive views. When it comes to views versus effort, this is an excellent payoff. With a rolling blanket of mountains stretched out before you, you’ll see why this hike is used by so many adventurers every year. It’s a great way to soak up the beauty of the Olympics without needing to work too hard, and the location makes it easily accessible from Port Angeles. Oh, and don’t worry- there are usually no hurricanes here.

The road to the trailhead is subject to seasonal closures, so make sure you check the status before planning a winter trip. The ridge is open for skiing in the snowy season.

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Open details for Ruby Beach Hike

Ruby Beach Hike

Very Easy
1.6 km
15 m
0.5h

Washington has no shortage of incredible beaches, and the endless coastline is always a treat to explore. Ruby Beach is an example of the scenery that makes the Pacific Northwest what it is: dramatic sea, rocky beaches strewn with driftwood, peculiar rock formations jutting out of the water. This beach walk is a go-to for locals and is often frequented by visitors as well. It’s only 1.6km in length and involves almost no elevation gain, making it a nice pick for adventurers of all levels.

Ruby Beach tends to be somewhat busy, so try visiting in the mornings or midweek if possible. Additionally, plan to arrive as the tide goes out so you’re not trapped by high tide at the creek crossing.

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Open details for High Divide Loop

High Divide Loop

Very Hard
28.1 km
1,197 m
8.5-11.5h

A classic full day hike along one of the most beautiful continuous ridgelines in the park. All the time spent above tree line on the High Divide Trail yields some of the greatest views of Mt Olympus the park has to offer!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Ozette Triangle Trail

Ozette Triangle Trail

Moderate
15.8 km
122 m
3-4.5h

The Ozette Triangle is a classic loop hike that will bring you through the secluded northwest section of the park. You’ll pass by weird and wonderful rock formations, enjoy spectacular views over the wild ocean and see a whole new side of the Olympic National Park.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Hoh River Trail

Hoh River Trail

Hard
16.3 km
140 m
3.5-4.5h

The Hoh River area in Olympic National Park is an extremely popular place due to the beauty of the dense, temperate Hoh Rainforest. However, for those wanting to distance themselves from the crowds, we recommend hiking along the Hoh River Trail to Five Mile Island to experience probably the most scenic Hoh Rainforest trail in the park.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Third Beach

Third Beach

Easy
8.1 km
92 m
1.5-2.5h

This hike takes place on the rugged and powerful west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. This trek is also a great option for anyone wanting to do an easy one-night backpacking trip.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls

Very Easy
3.2 km
70 m
1h

This hike through the stunning temperate rainforest to the mystical Marymere Falls is one for the entire family. You might think you’ve been sent back in time to the Jurassic Period!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Lake Angeles

Lake Angeles

Hard
11.4 km
719 m
4-5.5h

The sustained incline as you hike up to Lake Angeles is admittedly dull at times. However, the incredible, fortress-like views of the mountain’s cliffs surrounding the lake make the ache in your thighs feel justified.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.

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Open details for Planning Your Trip to Washington’s Olympic National Park

Planning Your Trip to Washington’s Olympic National Park

By Richard Campbell
November 26th, 2017
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