9 Best Day Hikes in Olympic National Park

Views from Hurricane Ridge - 9 Best Day Hikes in Olympic National Park, Washington

Views from Hurricane Ridge

Olympic National Park is definitely unique – sea stacks and tide pools give way to temperate rain forests, which melt into alpine valleys and steep-sided mountains.  This is perfect environment for seaside strolls, forest hikes, waterfalls, and high-alpine hiking in season.  In fact, you might get to do just about every classic national park variety of hike in just one park!

 


 

We’ve long enjoyed Olympic’s uniqueness and (in the spring and fall) lesser visitation than, say, Mt. Rainier National Park.  You’ll see people on these hikes – especially on Hurricane Ridge and on the beaches near trailheads – but weekdays and early in the morning you might even have the beaches to yourself.  And with so much coastline, it’s not hard to leave the crowds behind.

 

Below I’ve outlined some of my favorite hikes in Olympic National Park, in no particular order.  Let me know what your favorite hikes are in the comment section!

 

9 Best Day Hikes in Olympic National Park

 

 

Hazy peaks from Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park, Washington

Hazy peaks from Hurricane Hill

Hurricane Hill (3.2 miles RT). This is probably one of the most famed trails in Olympic, and the parking area looks like it.  However, the views do make it worth the trek – the Olympic peaks are front-and-center and the views toward the sea are also quite good.

Views north of Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

Views north of Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach (0.6+ miles RT).  If you only have energy for one beach walk, I highly recommend Ruby Beach.  You get sea stacks and sea arches for minimal effort (ok, the trail down to the beach is 0.1 miles of steep and slippery) and it’s just plain cool!

Moss in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park, Washington

Moss in the Hoh Rain Forest

Hoh Rain Forest Interpretive Loop (1.4 mile Loop).  If you’ve never seen a rain forest, the Hoh is a good place to start, and it just might wreck you for ever enjoying another (except possibly along the Oregon coast, like the Clatsop Loop Trail).  Mosses hang thickly among ferns and overabundant greenery.  Go on a misty day, if you can, for the best effect.

Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, Washington

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls (3 miles RT).  Waterfalls come in many shapes and sizes in Olympic, but I’ve never been able to resist Marymere.  The 90ft. leap is delicate, lacy, misty, and the perfect sight on a warm afternoon – or a pleasantly chilly sight on a cool morning.

Driftwood and sea stacks at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

Driftwood and sea stacks at Rialto Beach. Photo credit Amy Meredith.

Rialto Beach (3.2 miles RT).  While Ruby Beach may be the best, Rialto is closer to the main attractions of the park, and therefore much more convenient.  A 1.6 mile stroll along the beach (watch the tides!) brings you to “Hole in the Wall”, an iconic sea arch.

Views from Blue Mountain / Rain Shadow Loop in Olympic National Park, Washington

Views from Blue Mountain / Rain Shadow Loop. Photo credit Eric Willhite

Rain Shadow Loop (0.5 miles RT).  Located high in the Olympic Range, this little, popular trail takes you to alpine meadows and views of the high peaks – not to mention out to sea.

Ferns and trees in the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Washington

Ferns and trees in the Hoh Rainforest

Hall of the Mosses Loop (0.8 mile Loop).  Want to extend your rain forest experience?  The Hall of the Mosses takes you through so much more of the rain forest, and mosses is the name for it.  On a rainy day, it’s not a far-away thought that there might be a monkey in the trees…

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park, Washington

Sol Duc Falls. Photo credit David Fulmer

Sol Duc Falls (1.5 miles RT). It’s not long, but maybe that’s a good thing.  It’s hard to get a picture of the iconic falls.  But it’s also extremely unique; just how many falls like this have you ever seen?

Sea stacks and driftwood between Third Beach and Strawberry Point, Olympic National Park, Washington

Sea stacks and driftwood between Third Beach and Strawberry Point

Third Beach to Strawberry Point (11.7 miles RT).  Headlands, rain forests, beaches, sea stacks, tide pools, waterfalls… what more could you ask for?  It’s long and much more of it is in the rain forest than I would wish, but it’s still a fantastic hike!

 


 

Bonus!

Views from Mount Ellinor in Olympic National Park, Washington

Views from Mount Ellinor. Photo credit Steve Cyr

Mount Ellinor (6.2 miles RT) sounds fantastic!  Views across the Olympics, over lakes, out to the ocean – wow!

Second Beach views in Olympic National Park, Washington

Second Beach views. Photo credit Esther Lee

Second Beach (1.4 miles RT) sounds like a really cool beach, too!  It’s on the same road as Third Beach, but is more exciting than Third because of its sea stacks.

 

What are your favorite trails in Olympic?

 

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This unique book about Olympic National Park compiles all the “best” things to do, experience, and see… “Best Day Hikes”, “Best Campgrounds”, “Best Waterfalls”, “Best Beaches”, “Best Birds”, “Best Activities for Children”, “Best Sunrise / Sunset Spots”, “Best Places for a Group Picture”, “Best Places to Fish”, “Best Tide Pool Organisms”, “Best Ferns”…

 

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