An epic drive awaits you. Take Heart O’ the Hills Road up Hurricane Ridge, so you can see a mind-blowing panorama of Puget Sound and Mt. Baker. At the end of the road is a visitor center, where you can find several hiking trails that range from beginner level to challenging. For those looking for a mild trek, try the Cirque Rim Trail, bringing you to a coastal point where you can see Vancouver Island and San Juan Island.
Found on the Olympic Peninsula, this national park stretches across more than 633,600 acres has five landscapes: temperate rainforest, mountains, lakes, beaches, and rivers. Furthermore, the forest is covered with over 270 miles of trails, and 87 of those enter the Wilderness Areas. You can also choose from a selection of 20 campgrounds scattered throughout the five regions and engage in a number of outdoor recreational activities.
The reason Ruby Beach was given such a name is because there are red crystals in the sand—so you can imagine how beautiful this beach is when the sun starts to set. Additionally, being that Ruby Beach is located at the northernmost point, it has a fair amount of driftwood and sea stacks. Both Ruby Beach and Kalaloch Beach are home to nesting birds, such as tufted puffins and common murres. If you’re lucky, you might see these birds roosting amongst the rocky cliffs.
Also known as the Quinault Rainforest Nature Trail or the Quinault Nature Loop, this well trafficked loop is perfect for hikers of all skill levels. Dogs are also allowed on this trail but must be kept on a leash. There are a number of delightful sights, such as the green moss, primordial trees, and dozens of streams carving out their own paths.
Emerald green and wet, the Hoh Rain Forest receives over 130 inches of rain annually. The best time to visit this verdant landscape is in July, August, and September, when the rainy days are few and the sun filters through the spruce trees and hanging club moss. You can easily access the forest from the Hall of Mosses Trail adjacent to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.
Take the Mount Storm King Trail near Lake Crescent to reach the glorious Marymere Falls. Along the way, you will cross a number of creeks and a moss-blanketed ravine. From there, you eventually arrive at the 90-foot-long waterfall called Marymere Falls that was named in honor of Mary Alice Barnes, the sister of Charles Barnes, who was a member of an expedition team around Lake Crescent.
A hidden gem in the northern hills of the Olympic Mountains. Lake Crescent was actually hewed out by glaciers that once covered the area. Now, it is home to Beardslee and Crescenti trout. You can spend all day kayaking and fishing here. There is also a short hiking trail to and from the nearby Marymere Falls.
For those who are up to slogging through some mud and intense trails, the views of Shi Shi Beach, which have been prized by National Geographic photographers and adventurers alike, await. Shi Shi Beach connects to the Point of Arches, and both are long strips of sand, tide pools, bleached logs, and fiery sunsets. Note: You need permits to reach Shi Shi Beach if you plan to go camping.
Sitting on the southern edge of the Olympic National Forest is Lake Quinault and a rainforest sharing the same name. Surrounding the lake are a number of old, dilapidated buildings that lend to the quiet ambiance. Hiking trails are spread throughout the area, leading to ancient groves, waterfalls, streams, and an old homestead. There are also two campgrounds nearby.
Also sometimes spelled as “Soleduck,” this river wends through over 78 miles of land, cutting through the Olympic Mountains and Olympic National park. There are several tributary rivers that also stretch throughout the park, but it is the Sol Duc that makes the popular Sol Duc Valley and the Sol Duc Hot Springs. It is the ideal destination for those who want to both camp and relax.