Absolute Best Hiking Guide for Olympic National Park

Welcome to the Ultimate Hiking Guide for Olympic National Park in 2024! This guide covers 18 of the best trails, offering insights on what to expect and tips for maximizing your experience. Located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the Olympic National Park boasts a rich variety of hiking paths, from verdant rainforests and rugged coastal trails to alpine ridges and tranquil lakeside routes. Recognized internationally, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Olympic National Park caters to hikers of all levels with its diverse ecosystems.

Our guide is more than just about walking; it’s about connecting deeply with nature, promoting well-being, and creating lasting memories. We aim to prepare you for an adventure in Olympic National Park, focusing on sustainability, safety, and enjoyment. The park’s trails, from easy forest strolls to challenging mountain ascents, provide something for every hiker. Prepare to be captivated by the park’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes.

The guide also covers several distinct areas within Olympic National Park. These include the Hoh Rainforest, Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Valley, and coastal areas like Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach, as well as Lake Crescent and the Bogachiel Rain Forest Trail. Each of these areas represents a unique environment within the park, offering diverse hiking experiences ranging from lush rainforests and serene lakes to rugged coastal trails and alpine ridges.

Small waterfall going into pool surrounded by mossy trees

Table of Contents

Top Hiking Trails in Olympic National Park

Exploring Olympic National Park is an opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the most diverse natural areas in the United States. With a range of trails that span coastal areas, rainforests, and mountain ridges, hikers can experience the awe-inspiring variety of the park’s landscapes.

Hall of Mosses Trail.

Immerse yourself in the Hoh Rainforest’s verdant allure on this accessible loop. A paradise for photographers and families, the trail reveals an old-growth forest draped in mosses and fern-covered grounds. A highlight is the charming mini waterfall, perfect for capturing nature’s artistry.

  – Elevation Gain: Minimal
  – Distance: 0.8 miles
  – Difficulty: Easy

Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier.

This path offers an adventurous trek through the rainforest to Blue Glacier’s striking moraines. Suitable for a robust day hike or an extended backcountry journey, it rewards with breathtaking Mount Olympus views. Elk sightings add to the experience, and the glacier vista provides an idyllic picnic backdrop.

  – Elevation Gain: 3,700 feet
  – Distance: 18.5 miles to Glacier Meadows
  – Difficulty: Strenuous

Coastal Trails in Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach.

Known for its majestic sea stacks and rich marine life, Ruby Beach offers an easy coastal experience with minimal hiking. It’s a haven for tide pool exploration, seabird watching, and enjoying Pacific sunsets. The dramatic driftwood and picturesque Abbey Island are ideal for photography.

  – Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal
  – Distance: Variable
  – Difficulty: Easy

Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall.

Experience the unspoiled beauty of the Pacific coastline on this trail. The journey includes pebbled shores, views of islands, and the famous Hole-in-the-Wall sea arch. Discover a rich marine world in the tide pools at low tide, making it a moderate yet rewarding adventure.

  – Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal
  – Distance: 4 miles round trip
  – Difficulty: Moderate

Mountain Trails in Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge.

This popular trail, starting at Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, offers stunning mountain vistas and wildflower-filled subalpine meadows. The paved path to Hurricane Hill provides panoramic views up to Canada on clear days.

  – Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  – Distance: 3 miles round trip
  – Difficulty: Moderate

Klahhane Ridge to Lake Angeles Trail.

A challenging hike beginning at the same visitor center, ascending to Klahhane Ridge for sweeping views of the Olympic range, then descending to the tranquil Lake Angeles, ideal for a summer swim.

  – Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet
  – Distance: 9.5 miles round trip
  – Difficulty: Strenuous

Valley Trails in Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls and Lovers Lane Loop.

This scenic trail leads to Sol Duc Falls, a top photographed spot in the park, offering an easy, well-maintained path. The loop extends along Lovers Lane, providing a peaceful return through the ancient forest by the Sol Duc River.

  – Elevation Gain: 480 feet
  – Distance: 6 miles round trip
  – Difficulty: Moderate

Seven Lakes Basin and High Divide.

This loop traverses the alpine regions of the park, featuring breathtaking lakes and potential wildlife sightings. It offers magnificent views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Olympus, designed for experienced hikers seeking rugged terrain.

  – Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
  – Distance: 19 miles loop
  – Difficulty: Strenuous

Each trail in Olympic National Park offers its own unique journey through diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to majestic mountains. As you explore, remember the importance of respecting the fragile ecosystems. For a safe and memorable experience, always stay updated with the latest trail conditions from visitor centers or the park’s official website. Your well-prepared adventures in these breathtaking trails of Olympic National Park promise to be extraordinary and lasting experiences.

Family-Friendly Hikes in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is a family-friendly hiking paradise, offering trails suitable for all ages and abilities. These hikes are ideal for introducing children to the marvels of nature, while also ensuring adults have an enjoyable experience. Whether it’s a gentle stroll or a more adventurous trek, these trails are tailored to provide a fun, educational, and safe outdoor experience for the entire family.

Wooden dock extending into a lake at Olympic National Park

Family Hike to Lake Crescent

Nestled in the Olympic Peninsula, Lake Crescent offers family-friendly trails around its crystal-clear waters, framed by lush forests. The accessible Marymere Falls trail is a favorite, leading to a picturesque waterfall, ideal for a leisurely hike with children.

– Elevation Gain: Minimal to 200 feet for Marymere Falls
– Distance: 1.8 miles round trip to the falls
– Difficulty: Easy

Sol Duc Valley Nature Trails

These trails provide a blend of natural exploration and learning. The highlight is the Sol Duc Falls, accessible via short hikes suitable for all ages. The Salmon Cascades overlook offers a unique educational experience, especially during the salmon run.

– Elevation Gain: Varies, generally minimal
– Distance: Varies, up to 1.6 miles for the Sol Duc Falls trail
– Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Mini Trail Guides for Family Accessibility

Tailored for families, these guides feature short, engaging trails like the Big Cedar Tree and Moments in Time Nature Trail. They offer educational insights into the park’s ecology, perfect for young explorers.

– Elevation Gain: Minimal
– Distance: 0.5 to 1.5 miles
– Difficulty: Easy

Each of these trails in Olympic National Park provides a perfect blend of adventure and learning, making them ideal for family outings. They offer easy access, educational opportunities, and stunning natural beauty.

Challenging Hikes in Olympic National Park

Adventurous hikers looking for a test of endurance and solitude will find Olympic National Park’s challenging hikes a perfect match. These trails cater to those desiring a day or more of intense activity in the park’s most remote and rugged terrains.

The Enchanted Valley via East Fork Quinault River Trail

Known as the “Valley of 10,000 Waterfalls,” this trail reveals the park’s untamed beauty. The multi-day hike meanders through ancient forests and salmon-filled rivers, leading to a valley framed by high cliffs and waterfalls, especially impressive in spring.

– Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
– Distance: 26 miles round trip
– Difficulty: Strenuous

Mount Olympus Summit for Experienced Mountaineers

A challenging ascent to Mount Olympus, this climb requires technical skills and resilience. The long journey through the Hoh Rain Forest rewards climbers with stunning alpine views and the triumph of reaching the park’s highest peak.

– Elevation Gain: 7,980 feet
– Distance: 43 miles round trip (to the summit and back)
– Difficulty: Very Strenuous, Technical Climbing

These hikes in Olympic National Park are more than physical challenges; they’re an immersion into nature’s raw beauty. Adequate preparation with the right gear and thorough planning is crucial. These trails offer transformative experiences and unique insights into the park’s wilderness.

Less Traveled Trails in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park’s vast wilderness harbors hidden trails, offering solitude and pristine beauty. These less-traveled paths are perfect for escaping crowds and immersing oneself in the park’s unspoiled nature.

The Bogachiel Rain Forest Trail

Hike into the quiet heart of the temperate rainforest on the less groomed Bogachiel Rain Forest Trail. Trek alongside the Bogachiel River and embrace the authentic wilderness experience with potential muddy conditions.

– Elevation Gain: Minimal in the beginning, more if extending the hike
– Distance: Up to 17 miles round trip if going to Flapjack Point
– Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous (depending on distance)

North Fork Skokomish River Trail

Begin at Staircase Ranger Station and follow the North Fork Skokomish River into dense old-growth forests, enjoying river views and glimpses of peaks. Ideal for a full-day or multi-day backcountry journey.

– Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet to First Divide
– Distance: Up to 28.4 miles round trip to First Divide
– Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Deer Park to Blue Mountain

Starting from Deer Park, known for its scenic drives, this trail leads to Blue Mountain, offering stunning park views and opportunities to see wildlife.

– Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
– Distance: 4 miles round trip
– Difficulty: Moderate

These trails, less frequented yet rich in natural wonders, offer a deeper connection to Olympic National Park’s wild landscape. Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and check current trail conditions for a safe and fulfilling adventure.

Wildlife and Natural Features of Olympic National Park

A hike in Olympic National Park is more than a walk through diverse landscapes; it’s an encounter with a living ecosystem home to an array of wildlife and unique plant life. Here’s what you can expect to see and how to responsibly enjoy the park’s natural features.

Wildlife You May Encounter

Olympic National Park is a sanctuary for many species. You may spot Roosevelt elk grazing in meadows or hear the call of the marbled murrelet. Black bears roam the forests, while mountain goats can be seen on rocky outcrops. It’s essential to keep a safe distance from all wildlife and to store food properly to avoid attracting animals to your campsite.

Unique Plant Life and Ecosystems

The park is a botanist’s dream, from the towering trees of the Hoh Rainforest, such as Douglas firs and western red cedars, to the delicate wildflowers of the subalpine meadows. Keep an eye out for the fern species that blanket the forest floor and the colorful fungi that add to the forest’s biodiversity.

Olympic National Park Guide to Geographical Features 

The park’s geography is as varied as its biology. Mount Olympus, the park’s highest peak, is draped with glaciers that carve the landscape. Rivers such as the Hoh and the Quinault trace paths from the high country to the ocean, creating lush valleys in their wake. Lake Crescent, forged by glaciers, is known for its deep, clear waters and is a prime spot for photography, kayaking, and reflection on the grandeur of nature.

When exploring Olympic National Park’s wildlife and natural features, it’s vital to remember that this is their habitat, and we are the visitors. Stay on marked trails to protect delicate ecosystems. Use binoculars or a good zoom lens to observe animals without disturbing them. Always be prepared for the unexpected by knowing the area’s common hazards, like swift river currents or unstable snowfields, and how to navigate them safely.

By respecting these natural wonders, you ensure they continue thriving for future generations. Whether you’re marveling at a herd of elk or enjoying the quiet majesty of the forest, remember that your actions can help preserve the park’s beauty and biodiversity.

Olympic National Park Trail Guide Conclusion

Reflecting on the vast array of trails and the stunning biodiversity in Olympic National Park, it’s clear why it remains a top destination for hikers around the globe. From the easy-going family trails that offer a gentle introduction to nature’s wonders to the challenging paths that lead experienced adventurers through the park’s most rugged terrains, there’s something for every level of hiker in this incredible wilderness.

The key to a successful hiking trip here is preparation. Understanding the terrain, weather patterns, and awareness of the park’s wildlife are crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Always check the latest trail conditions before setting out, and remember that the trails you tread are home to creatures large and small. By hiking responsibly and with consideration for the natural environment, you contribute to the conservation efforts that keep this park beautiful.

We encourage you to explore Olympic National Park’s trails to take in the majestic peaks, serene forests, and dramatic coastlines. And as you do, we invite you to share your experiences and tips with the Love Hiking community. What trails have you found most rewarding? Do you have any personal insights or stories from your hikes? Your contributions help us all grow as a community of nature enthusiasts.

As we sign off on this guide, we hope it serves as a resource for planning your hikes and an inspiration to discover the joys of hiking and the great outdoors. Happy trails, and we look forward to seeing where your adventures lead you in Olympic National Park.

Join the Love Hiking Club!

As you gear up for your trek through the breathtaking landscapes of Olympic National Park, we invite you to visit the Love Hiking Store for all your hiking essentials. From top-quality gear to expert advice, our store ensures you’re well-prepared for any trail adventure.

After you’ve returned from your journey, enriched with the experience and beauty of the Olympics, we’re eager to hear your story. Share your insights, tips, or favorite moments in the comments below. Your input is invaluable, helping fellow hikers plan their perfect National Park adventure.

For more information on trails, permits, and park conditions, visit the Olympic National Park official site and explore trail maps to chart your course through the park’s diverse terrain. Further reading on the park’s history and biodiversity can be found through resources provided by the National Park Service and Olympic National Park’s visitor’s guide. The number of visitors to all our National Parks can be found here.

Your engagement and feedback enrich our community and contribute to the shared knowledge that makes hiking such a rewarding experience. So, lace up your boots, hit the trail, and tell us about your Olympic National Park adventure.

My name is Rich, and I love to hike!

I grew up in Idaho, with plenty of hiking and camping just minutes away from our home. Growing up, we spent summers at the lake and falls in the mountains. Camping and hiking with friends was such a special way to spend time together. I’ve spent a lifetime outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *