There are about eight Indian Reservations in the Olympic National Park. These eight Indian tribes are spread throughout the park. On Highway 101 before you even hit the National Park itself, there is a community center for the Indian tribes and a gallery. Totem Poles are standing tall close to the gallery overlooking the water. The gallery has a lot of collections of Indian artworks and mementos - wood carvings, Indian dream catchers, Indian paintings, mocassin shoes, clothes, t-shirts and other collectible items. I was taking pictures inside the gallery and I was prohibited by a staff later on. I didn't realize there was a sign not to take pictures inside the gallery. One reason for the prohibition, I would guess, is to avoid copy cats of the artworks! So, I am showing you in this website some of the pictures I have taken. These artwork are copyrighted so don't be copy cats!
Before heading out to your hike or camp, make sure to visit the Olympic National Park Ranger Station to get free maps, tour guides and detailed topographic maps. There are seven USFS/NPS Information Stations scattered at the Olympic National Park. The park rangers are very friendly. They have a huge map of the Olympic Peninsula in the office and have tons of valuable pamphlets to give away to make your trip easier and safer. The rangers are also selling postcards and refrigerator magnets.
Actually, we were just driving around the Olympic National Park on Highway 101, and we saw this lake! We didn't know about it because we didn't have a map! We were just cruising around- what the heck, it was a Labor Day Weekend (Sept 1, 2007). The drive was pleasant - the view was spectacular. The place was serene. It was good to our spirits! We stopped at designated Look-Outs on the highway. We took a good look and it was amazingly beautiful! There are probably four to five look-outs otherwise the lake is covered by thick trees! If you miss the first look out, then there are four more. The last look-out has more parking lots and the view of the lake is outstanding - free from trees that are blocking the views!
This lake was created by glaciers thousands of years ago. The lake sits still and sparkles like diamonds as sunlight hit the water! The mountains surrounding it are dark green thickened by redwood trees, pines and emerald greens. The weather is cool and it was just perfect to drive around the peninsula!
This trail actually isn?t in Olympic National Park, but in the Makah Indian Reservation, a little down the road from Neah Bay. This 1.5-mile round trip trail leads downhill through forest to the beautiful scenery at Cape Flattery, the farthest northwest point in the 48 states. There are a few interpretative signs along the trail describing the area. From the cape, you can see Tatoosh Island, a small island just offshore. A good short hike.
This ninety-foot high waterfall is probably the most popular in Olympic National Park. For one thing, it's easily accessible by a 1.5-mile round trip trail. For another, it's in a very beautiful setting. I believe the trail starts near the Storm King Info Center (I may be wrong), then passes under US 101 and leads through rain forest to the falls. There are two viewpoints for the falls, an upper and a lower; the upper viewpoint has better views of the falls. The area is completely surrounded by forest, and the cliff down which the falls drop is covered with moss, making the scene immensely lush and beautiful. There's not excuse for not making this hike if you visit Olympic.
Sol Duc Falls is a very pretty waterfall accessible by a short 1.6-mile round trip trail. The trail leads downhill from the trailhead through rain forest and past creeks to the falls. It's a very good short hike, and is much more of a worthwhile thing to do than the hot springs.
Ruby Beach is probably the most beautiful beach in the Kalaloch Area, with giant seastacks, natural windows, and cliffs. The beach itself is sort of rocky, and very beautiful. The beach can be accessed by a short, but steep trail from US 101. At the bottom of the trail, you must cross driftwood to get onto the beach, though. A nice place to spend a few hours.
Hole-in-the-Wall is Rialto Beach's key feature. This sea-carved arch makes for great photographs but must be visited at low tide to fully appreciate it. It is a 1.5 mile walk to the far end of Rialto Beach and along the way you will have to pass numerous streams running across the beach's width to the sea. Some can be easily walked through though you will need to take your shoes off or wear water sandals. Others have permanent logs you can traverse as they are flowing quickly and the water is on the cold side. Once at the Hole-in-the-Wall, there are numerous tide-pools to explore. There are ranger-led walks here but you need to check the notice board at the ranger station as these vary with the tides. We did the walk in the afternoon on our own and then came back the following morning to meet the ranger talk at the hole. You need to walk down there on your own as the talk starts there. Please allow ample time. It's only 1.5 miles but it seems to take longer than you would think to actually walk it.
The High Divide Loop is the premier alpine hike in Olympic National Park. This 17.6 mile loop picks up 4000 feet of elevation and passes through every terrain the park offers aside from coastal. You walk through temperate rainforest, pass alpine lakes, climb over craggy peaks, and get great views of the Olympic range. Though it can be done as a very long day hike and I did do just that in 1994, it is a very rushed day and you miss out on many small spurs to places like Lunch Lake. It is far better to do as a one- or two-night backpacking trip so you can enjoy the amazing scenery.
We did a lot of backpacking on our recent six-month trip around the US and this was easily one of if not the very best trip we did. We camped at Deer and Lunch Lake and due to heavy snow did not make it to Heart Lake which would normally be the final night of camping. But by camping at Lunch Lake, we got to explore the Seven Lakes Basin, walk over on the highest part of the High Divide, climbed up Bogachiel Peak, and even walked down the Hoh Lake Trail to enjoy even better views of Mount Olympus. This is a great place to backpack so if so inclined do it. If you have just been thinking about, this is the place to finally give it a go.
The hike to the Blue Glacier Overlook is one of the top walks in Olympic National Park. At 36 miles round trip, it is NOT a day hike. Just in case you are a runner, keep in mind it picks up 4700 feet along the way and much of the end is over very rocky terrain. This is best done as a three-day, two night trip unless you are very fit and/or in a big hurry. It is a shame to rush though as you pass through many of the park's terrains and each is special in its own way.
You begin by walking through the lush temperate rainforest of the Hoh River. This relatively flat trail does have some ups and downs and very fine camping. From Olympus Guard Station, a typical first night camping choice at 10 miles from the trail head, the trail starts to climb steeply to Elk Lake. You have a couple choices from there. You can day hike up to the Blue Glacier Overlook from there or continue up to Glacier Meadows Campground. The later is much more strenuous though you can stay at the overlook longer as you have a shorter distance back to your tent. We opted for camping at Elk Lake as part of the trail to Glacier Meadows was washed out, making it rough going with a full backpack. Though it was a long day, we were glad we did as it was pretty hard getting across the landslide even without our packs! Don't relax too much once you get to the meadows as you still have another 500 feet to climb over a steep rocky half mile. It seemed to take forever but the views from of the Blue Glacier are incredible. We could hardly believe we had been camping at the beach just two days earlier and had walked 12 miles through a rain forest to this treeless alpine region. Walking back to Elk Lake was all the reality we needed to awake from the dreamy feeling.
On the first day of summer (June 21, 2003) we drove up to Hurricane Ridge, at 5,200 feet, and hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail. The trail is paved basically all of the way. It starts at the end of the Hurricane Ridge Road, and leads up through beautiful alpine meadows to the summit of Hurricane Hill. On the day we hiked this 3-mile round trip trail, it was snowing hard, a testament to how unpredictable weather can be in the Olympics. However, we managed to make it to the summit of Hurricane Hill, despite the heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures. What I want to do in the future is come back on a clear day (a relative rarity in this area) and hike this trail again, so I can enjoy views of the snow-capped Olympics that aren't blocked by clouds.
Of all the meadow loops in the Hurricane Ridge area, this 1/2-mile loop is the best. It leads up onto a ridge opposite the visitor center and offers spectacular views of the Olympics. A good side trip is short spur trail to Sunrise Point, perched high on a ridge. The views are good, the hiking is easy, and this makes it the best trail at Hurricane Ridge.
This 3.5-mile loop on the south shore of Lake Quinault is meant more for rain forest lovers than anything else, but if you have plenty of leisure time, it?s a good hike. The trail begins near the visitor/ranger station on the south shore, where it follows the lakeshore for a little more than half a mile, then enters the forest. The forest here is very dense, with moss-draped branches and giant trees. The trail eventually passes Cascade Falls and winds its way back through the forest back to the parking area.
Rialto Beach is one of the park's top attractions. This rugged beach looks little like the typical seashore beaches you may be used to. With huge piles of drift wood, sea stacks rising from the crashing waves, and a dense forest running along its interior, this is a terrain to take seriously.
Tide-pools are great to explore so time your visit for low tide if possible. It's best to dress in layers. This is not a tropical beach and while it's possible it might get hot, count yourself lucky if it's not raining. The ocean temperatures are likely in the 50s so a bathing suit is one thing you'll not likely need. We began our walk wearing our fleeces but needed to peel them off once the fog burned away and the sun came out. It still wasn't exactly hot out but it was a lot more pleasant.
This is the lofty, alpine section of the park accessed by a 17-mile drive up a mountain from the park entrance in Port Angeles. At the top there is a Visitor Center with restrooms, picnic areas, water, snack bar/gift shop and hiking opportunities ranging from paved 1/4 mile strolls to 8-mile, one-way treks into the valleys. The easiest paths are right around the Visitor Center and offer some nice lookout points - good for families with very small children or the physically challenged. The website has a downloadable brochure with a map and descriptions of all the trails.
I had a bugger of a head cold the day we were here but managed to tackle Hurricane Hill; a slightly over 3 mile RT hike through fir stands and meadows to a 5,757 point with terrific views of the majestic Olympic mountains. The trail was almost empty on a mid-September weekday and it's a great hike when the sun is out. The trailhead for that one is at the end of Hurricane Hill Road, a mile and a half from the Visitor Center.
Hurricane Ridge Road from Port Angles to the summit is open 24/7 all year but expect closures during the winter.