Olympic National Park sits only 90 miles west of bustling metropolis Seattle, WA. However, those entering the park will immediately feel a world away from any urban sprawl and find a hiker’s paradise.
The varying natural landscape of Olympic makes it the most diverse of any national park in the U.S., including nearby Rainer and North Cascades. Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys and snow-capped glaciated mountains can all be found inside Olympic. This amazing mixture creates unmatched beauty over the nearly one million acres it encompasses.
Olympic is divided into three particular regions based upon the natural transformations of its landscape. The Olympic Mountains, Pacific Coastline and Temperate Rain Forest make up these divisions. Each of these areas can give hikers of all skill levels some incredible opportunities to see the park.
The Olympic Mountains rise to a peak of just over 7,000 feet, a relatively low elevation that allows for quick, yet amazing hiking adventures. Hurricane Hill is only 1.6 miles long and gains merely 700 feet, but offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the mountains. Meadow Loop Trails and Rainshadow Loop offer quick 0.25-0.5 mile hikes for those with less time.
Those staying longer and looking to see more of the wilderness may want to try the Lake Angeles trail. This is a 6.3 mile hike that rises in elevation from 1850-6000 feet. Backcountry camping spots (by permit) are available along the way and it strongly recommended to bring ample water or any other necessities.
Temperate Rain Forest
The western edge of Olympic makes up the rain forest, which receives about 150 inches of precipitation a year. The Hall of Mosses trail located here is 0.8 miles and has become of the park’s most popular short hikes. The Irely Lake Trail is 1.2 miles and gives a little more opportunity to see trees like the Sitka Spruce, which can grow over 300 feet tall.
A 17.3 mile hike along the Hoh River is a recommended path for those seeking more adventure in the rain forest area. Walking this stretch will lead a hiker to Glacier Meadows and Blue Glacier, two of the more amazing sites at Olympic. This hike has a 3,700 foot gain in elevation and also has wilderness campsites available along the way by permit.
A 73-mile long coastline belonging to the park offers a unique blend of eroded cliffs, beaches and wildlife. Rialto Beach offers a 1.5 mile hike that allows a chance to see tide pools at Hole-in-the-Wall. Third Beach Trail is 1.4 miles long and provides hikers an excellent chance to see bald eagles and seals.
Anyone looking to see more of the amazing coastline can hike the 17-mile long South Coast Route. However, visitors hiking the coastal areas need to be aware of driftwood, which can be deadly if striking a person. Camping is allowed in the park’s coastal area, with certain zones along the beach requiring a special permit.
Olympic is one of the most majestic spots in all of North America and possibly the world. Nobody should miss the chance to see this amazing variety of natural beauty in one place. The formation of Olympic is truly a one of a kind masterpiece created by the forces of nature.