OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
This has become one of my favorite places to explore in the United States. There is such a wide variety of landscapes to see between beaches, rain-forests, waterfalls, and alpine hikes.
DAY 1 WEDNESDAY 03.11.2020
We had Thursday and Friday off, so we got stated on Wednesday by heading out to the campground to get the drive out of the way. There is some free dispersed camping on National Forest roads that was right along the way to what was going to be our first stop the next day, so we stayed there. The spot was on Quinault Ridge Road [47.348128, -123.906274].
I didn't get any pictures of the spot. It wasn't anything special but certainly worked for us. It was just a pull-off along the forest road.
DAY 2 THURSDAY 03.12.2020
The action began on Thursday. Here was our list of plans for the day...
Tree of Life
Tree of Life: This spot looks like it may not be here forever! A super unique site along Kalaloch Beach. Parking was free at the Kalaloch Beach Campground for day use.
Ruby Beach: An Olympic Peninsula classic. Such a scenic and moody beach that you need to include in your Olympic itinerary. Also, this spot has the best stone skipping area in the world (my opinion).
Hoh Rainforest: There are several hiking options here. We have done 2. The first one we did (on our previous visit 2 years ago) was Sol Duc Falls. This time, we hiked the Hall of Mosses (.8mi loop) and about 2.5 miles out along the Hoh River Trail.
Sol Duc Falls is a super scenic, foresty waterfall that I loved experiencing and photographing. It's a pretty short hike at 1.6mi RT and was fairly easy.
The Hall of Mosses is "world famous," per the park ranger at the entrance station. It was a good, flat, and easy hike that definitely showed off the foresty, mossy greens of the PNW.
The Hoh River Trail extends 17.3 miles to Glacier Meadows and is something I'd like to complete one day, but we just hiked out about 2.5 miles to the waterfall and back.
Blue Lake Hike: This was our bigger hike of the day. This is a 4.4 mi out & back hike that ascends 1,050 feet. [Note: Per wta.org, as of 7/30/18, this trail has been closed due to wildfires. Check here for more up-to-date info cause I can't say when I'll get back to this post to update it myself :)] If you are able to do this hike, the climb was fairly gradual. This weekend in June that we did it, the trail was still very snowy. We came back just a month later with Leslie's family and the snow was gone! At certain angles, the lake looks a deep blue and the water is so clear. I would highly recommend this hike, however, it is definitely a challenge, so keep that in mind.
Washington Pass Overlook: Another very short trail (.25 mi loop), that provides an excellent couple of views. It's definitely worth it if you're trying to fit in as much as possible, as we usually do. There's a decent sized parking lot and a couple of picnic tables (by the parking area - no view) as well.
That was more than enough for one day! Even with all that, we were done by about 4pm and were ready to come back to the campground and relax for the evening.
On top of that, we actually didn't end up doing much the next day. For Sunday, we planned on the challenging Thornton Lakes & Trappers Peak hike that is a 10 mile RT hike with a 3000' elevation gain. It was on the way back toward Seattle from the campground. I slept pretty poorly and just wasn't feeling it so we bailed and did a short and easy 2 mile river walk loop before heading home!
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