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Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park, Washington in 6 Days

Guest post by nqh

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Day 1

  • The Dish
  • Skal Beer Hall
  • Pike Place Market
  • Elliot’s Oyster House

Arrived in Seattle the previous evening and got fuel, snacks, and supplies. Started this day with breakfast at The Dish – very good. Spend the rest of the morning driving/walking around Freemont and Ballard. Had a drink at Skal Beer Hall, which was neat. Went back downtown and spent the rest of the afternoon at Pike Place Market. Ate dinner at Elliot’s Oyster House – wouldn’t recommend. When we got the bill, we noticed they tacked on a 20% service fee that doesn’t go to the staff. There was no mention of that and you still have to tip on top of that. We rented scooters for the first time to get back to the hotel, worked out well.

Day 2

  • Mount Storm King
  • Rialto Beach

We drove about 3 hours from downtown Seattle to the Mount Storm King Ranger station in Olympic National Park. This is a 4-mile RT hike with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Loved it. Straight up for the first part, then a series of ropes and short scramble to get to the top. Must-do if visiting Olympic. Fair warning the birds at the top will fly on to your hand if you stick it out.

Then drove an hour to Rialto Beach. It was really cold and much different weather than where we were. We had a permit for camping at Hole in the Wall (wasn’t difficult for us to get one). We hiked 2 miles to the campsite and didn’t see any wildlife from the shore despite everyone saying we would.

Day 3: Hoh Rain Forest

Explored around the beach a bit then drove a little over an hour to the Hoh Rain Forest. There was a line to get in because they only allow as many cars as there are parking spaces. Had to wait about an hour as we had permits for the Hoh Campground. They do also take walk-ins and all the spots are first-come, first-serve. Set up camp and did the Hall of Mosses Trail and Spruce Nature Trail. Family-friendly, easy trails that start right behind the visitor center. The Hoh Campground didn’t have much privacy or seclusion – not for those that want to be truly in the backcountry.

Day 4: Hurricane Ridge

There’s a single road (Upper Hoh Road) that leads to the rain forest part of the park. On the way in we passed a place called the Hard Rain Cafe – stopped there on the way out, really good. Resources (gas, food, stores) are scarce in the area and we needed some supplies for blisters. Forks Outfitters/Ace Hardware has every camping/backpacking supply you’d need and is located between Rialto Beach and the Hoh Rain Forest.

One of the Hurricane Ridge viewpoints close to the parking lot

We continued on to Klahowya Campground, which we liked a lot. Quieter, not as busy. Set up camp and drove about an hour and 15 minutes to Hurricane Ridge. Incredible – there’s a viewing area right by the parking lot which has great views. The drive in alone is worth it. Did the Hurricane Hill Trail – 3.5 miles RT with 800 feet of elevation gain. It’s paved the whole way so anyone could do it, but the last 3/4 mile is a steep incline.

Day 5: High Divide-Seven Lake Basin Trail

Left the campground and drove a half hour to the Sol Duc Trailhead. This is the starting point for the popular High Divide-Seven Lake Basin Loop Trail (19 miles RT with 5,300 feet of elevation gain). We did it counter-clockwise and would recommend that direction. There were lots of people going the other direction, which was surprising based on what we had read, so you could go either way. The first 3 miles are a viewless, uphill slog in the woods. We did 8 miles on the first day and camped at Lunch Lake (downhill off the main trail). You have to have a permit to camp, and I got lucky with one that wasn’t available when I first checked but opened up. If the one you want isn’t available, I recommend to keep checking to see if there are any cancellations. Other camping permits were available but they weren’t convenient to hiking the loop. We planned on camping 2 nights but decided to do just 1 when the Lunch Lake spot opened up.

Lunch Lake

Day 6

Packed up, climbed out of the basin back to the main trail, and did the remaining ~12 miles to get back to the trailhead. The first 8 from Lunch Lake on were incredible – best views of the whole trip. The last 4 miles are comparatively flat and easy, so it was a nice end to the hike.

Drove back to Seattle, taking the ferry on the way. Had dinner at Great State Burger – not our first choice but worked out fine. Flew back the next day.

Traveled in August 2022

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