West - Olympic National Park
Feb 3, 11, 12:38 am
My better half and I are planning a trip to Olympic National Park this summer for 4-5ish days. I've searched the board, but haven't found a great deal of suggestions for what to do while there (besides general recommendations to go). We're a fairly active mid twentysomething couple, looking for some hiking, relaxing, and exploring. We'll have a car.
So, for those who have been:
1) What are your favorite places within the park? Best places to spend time, etc.
2) What's not worth going to but gets overhyped?
3) Any favorite places to stay there? Places to avoid?
Thanks all so much!
Feb 3, 11, 1:46 am
can't be much help in the what to do area, as we only had a couple days, so basically did a driving tour....but accomodation wise, we stayed in the park lodges and were quite happy with them. Our fav was a lakefront cottage at Lake Crescent, followed by Lake Quinalt. And, altho reviews in other places have been mixed, we had good meals in both places, too. The best rooms sell out really quickly, so make your res ASAP. Here is info:
Olympic National Park Lodging Call 1-866-875-8456 or Book Online!
We took fold up chairs and food (cheese, crackers, fruit,etc) in the car with us so we could stop whenever....there is not a restaurant on every corner, but there are lots of beautiful places for an impromptu picnic!
Feb 3, 11, 7:23 am
I've stayed at both Kalaloch Lodge (right on the beach) and at Lake Quinault Lodge (on a lake in the middle of the forest.) Both were fantastic. If you can split your stay between the two, I'd recommend that. Kalaloch Lodge has a hotel and a bunch of individual cabins (with kitchens and fireplaces), all on a bluff overlooking the Pacific with miles and miles of empty beach to walk on. Lake Quinault Lodge is a wonderful older lodge on a lake in the middle of the rain forest, also with lots of nearby trails. Here's a link to your options within and near the park:
I have always camped when I visited, so I can't help you out for lodges.
I think Hurricane Ridge, especially if the day is clear, is a must do. It is not a strenous hike whatsoever, but has exceptional views and the lodge has a lot of information. The Hoh rainforest is a lot of fun to see. I don't remember the name of the hike, but we once did a long hike around Lake Crescent that was really nice. There is a small bridge along the way the route that we decided (in June) to jump into the lake from. Let's just say, it wasn't our brightest idea and about couldn't swim out to the shore fast enough!!
There are also some hot springs around Sol Duc that I hear great things about, but I haven't personally been to.
The area is beautiful! Have fun!
Feb 3, 11, 10:43 am
You can find lots of good ideas on Summitpost and nwhikers.net.
A nice long hike is the Grand Ridge traverse, Obstruction Point to Deer Park. 14 miles roundtrip, although you don't have to hike the whole thing, especially starting from Obstruction. From Obstruction Point you can also head south; a nice shorter hike with some mixed scrambling is to Moose Peak (aka Point 6753), about 3-4 miles each way. I hiked this on July 4 a couple years back and had the summit to myself for more than an hour, and saw only one other party on the trail.
The northwest area of the park has several ridge hikes, although the elevations aren't as high. The east side has some options too, although much of it is properly in Olympic National Forest (not NP) and requires a separate parking pass (a Northwest Forest Pass, which is *not* interchangeable with the entrance fee to the NP).
Olympic is my favorite National Park (of 20 visited). The beaches are the best feature in my opinion, there are two access points, one a road to the beach, the other a moderate hike (about 2 miles or so I think). Once on the beach you can hike for miles up and down the coast in realtive solitude (once a mile or so away from the road) with huge rocks, cliffs, crashing surf. You need a tide table and map though because there are places where you have to time it right so the tide doesn't trap you against the cliffs, it is a little dangerous (they also warn about logs getting thrown out of the surf). Best for overnight camping if you are into backpacking, but if you get an early start a good day hike is also possible.
Feb 3, 11, 10:26 pm
The big problem with ONP in the high summer is a general scarcity of accommodations, especially on the coastal strip. There are accommodations around La Push, at Kalaloch, and around Lake Quinalt, but they fill up fast.
I'd focus on two areas. First, the area around Lake Crescent (near Port Angeles) has some good hikes and walks (Hurricane Ridge as previously mentioned) and Lake Crescent itself is gorgeous.
Second, out on the coast, the beaches near La Push and Kalaloch are superb (try Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach and others) but IMO the crown jewel for walkers and explorers is the Hoh Valley rain forest. The beach scenery is stunning; the Hoh valley is like another planet.
Specific timing is important; there are big differences from early summer to late summer, particularly on the coast. When were you thinking?