If you’ve been to our site before you know that we believe in balanced living and that staying fit and healthy is a big part of our lifestyle. You may also know that we are from the Pacific Northwest (generally listed as Washington, Oregon and British Columbia) which is a wonderland of natural beauty making it a favorite destination for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
We have spent years exploring the PNW and although we try not to pick favorites as we travel we can’t deny that Olympic National Park in Washington State is one of our absolute top spots. It embodies the thing we love most about the Pacific Northwest: nature in all its glory. Plus, we think it’s one of the best National Parks in the USA.
The Olympic Peninsula has so much to offer people of all ages; from incredible beaches to rainforests and cute little towns. Plus it’s an easy destination for a weekend getaway or a day trip from Seattle.
One of the best ways to experience this area of WA is by hiking so, we have created a list of the best hikes in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula. We’ve included hikes for every level and experience. There are even short hikes that will take you to free camping on the beach!
Here we can escape the busy cities and highways, the crowds and the shopping malls, and trade it all in for the peace and healing that nature provides. Just please remember to leave no trace by packing out everything you pack in.
However, this doesn’t mean we have to give up creature comforts at the end of the day. There are plenty of great accommodation options on the Olympic Peninsula in charming towns like Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. You’ll find everything from basic hotels to lodges, and resorts where you can rest and eat well after a long day of hiking.
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Short Hikes in Olympic National Park
Hall of Mosses
Distance: .8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 ft
This loop trail in the Hoh rain forest is one of the best short hikes in Olympic National Park for kids. It’s quick and easy but full of wonder with majestic old-growth trees draped in moss, a ground cover of ferns. Keep an eye out for all sorts of wildlife both big and small.
Sol Duc Falls
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 ft
This flat and easy trail takes you through old-growth forest, across a few little creeks to a wooden bridge and platform where you can enjoy the splendor of the 3-pronged Sol Duc waterfall. If you go in the early morning the colors really pop.
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 310 ft
The trail into Second Beach has a few easy ups and downs but is mostly flat. It takes you through a typical Washington woods setting to an iconic Olympic Peninsula beach. The spectacular Washington coast vista doesn’t appear until the last second as you emerge from the trees.
Easy-Moderate Hikes in Olympic National Park
Olympic Hot Springs
Distance: 4.8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 600 ft
The trail to Olympic Hot Springs is wide and smooth, almost like a road, with some incline. You’ll cross a couple of bridges crossing the pretty Boulder Creek before arriving at the Hot Springs area. There are several hot pools, some very visible from the path and others tucked away in the woods.
Distance: 3.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 650 ft
The incredible views of mountains, ocean, and forest will keep you in awe through the whole of this Olympic National Park hike. The trail is wide and fairly easy to navigate but there are some switchbacks and the last part of the hike is where you have most of the elevation gain. It’s named with good reason so dress prepared for gusty winds at the summit.
Hoh River Trail to 5-Mile Island
Distance: 10.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 ft
If you enjoyed the magic of the Hall of Mosses and want more this Hoh River Trail is perfect. This easy hike is full of ancient moss-covered trees and also offers views of a river valley and the Olympic Mountains. The many beautiful stops and Five Mile Island make this hike perfect for packing a picnic lunch.
Intermediate Hikes in Olympic National Park
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft
This colorful Olympic National Park hike is a series of often steep switchbacks climbing through shady forest, wide-open meadows, and along mountain ridges. If you go all the way to the Lake Angeles Trail the last bit will be quite narrow on the ledge edge so if you have a fear of heights you may want to turn around before that point.
Elk Mountain to Maiden Peak
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 840 ft
The hike to Maiden Peak is all about the stunning views including vistas of lakes and mountains including Mount Olympus so make sure you take your time and stop often to take it all in. Once you reach Maiden Peak you will be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view which will have you wanting to stay awhile.
Slab Camp Creek/Gray Wolf River
Distance: 5.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft
This is a classic Olympic Peninsula hike and is a feast for all the senses. You will travel through mossy forest, across and along rushing rivers, and over colorful flats. Depending on what time of year you go you may see and smell rhododendrons, wildflowers, berries, and autumn leaves. Keep in mind the hike in is all downhill so you know what that means for the return journey!
Challenging Hikes in Olympic National Park
Distance: 15 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,100 ft
If you get lucky with the weather this high Olympic Mountains trail offers up the most incredible 360-degree views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and if you’re really lucky you’ll even see Canada! However, the weather is often unpredictable here so go prepared for anything.
Mount Storm King
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,065
The Mount Storm King hike is not long, what makes it challenging is the climb. You’ll pass through rain forest, then ascend woods of giant pines before reaching the hardy Pacific Madronas (a type of Arbutus). This is where the viewpoints begin. If you’re brave enough to continue beyond the maintained trail you’ll need to use the ropes there to help climb the rest of the way
High Divide-Seven Lakes Basin
Distance: 18 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft
This Olympic Park hike is very long and challenging and although people do it as a full-day hike many others prefer to tackle it in two days with a night of camping part-way. However, if you have the time and stamina you’ll be rewarded with everything that makes the Pacific Northwest so beautiful: forest, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, valleys, and astounding views.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.