12 Must-See Hikes in Olympic National Park

June 19, 2022

Since moving to Washington, no place here has captivated me like Olympic National Park. This northwest section of Washington has a magical feel that will keep you coming back again and again. At least, that has been the case for me. There is just so much to see and such diverse landscapes to explore. It is home to rugged coastlines, lush forests, raging waterfalls, pristine lakes, and towering peaks… it pretty much has it all. In this blog post, I put together my favorite 12 best hikes in Olympic National Park to help you plan an epic trip of your own.

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BEST TIME TO VISIT OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

The Olympic National Park is a great place to visit during any season, however, I suggest visiting sometime during mid-October if you want to see the forests rich in fall colors. Or I suggest visiting any time between Nov-May for the best green colors. If rain or fall colors aren’t important to you, and you plan on sticking to the mountain or beach more, then I suggest visiting sometime in July, August, or September.

A FEW GOOD-TO-KNOW THINGS

  • A national parks pass will come in handy. Buy your pass here.
  • Weather can change drastically, so check the alerts and conditions before heading out. Click here for in the park. Click here for outside of the park.
  • When visiting the ocean, keep in mind the marine layer and tides.
  • Download the service map in advance. You can find it here.
  • Get the app! The NPS app has many interactive maps, tours, and on-the-ground accessibility information.

Google Map of the Olympic Peninsula

1. HALL OF MOSSES

This short 1.1-mile hike begins at the visitor center and loops around the park (get directions here). This is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States, with over 140-170 inches of rain each year! I like to visit the park in Nov-May to see the forest in its full glory, but it is good any time of the year. This is a family-friendly hike, and you will run into crowds during weekends and especially in the summer. Read more about the hike here. Also, it is not dog-friendly.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Paid campground: Hoh Campground

Free campground: Minnie Peterson Campground.

Cabins: Hoh Valley Cabins

2. MARYMERE FALLS

This easy 1.8-mile round trip hike begins at the Storm King Ranger Station on the shore of Lake Crescent (get directions here). It takes about 50 minutes to complete, with 298 feet of elevation gain so pack some water and snacks. The trail winds through lush forests and crosses a couple of streams before the final uphill section to this beautiful 90-foot waterfall. You will find yourself running into other hikers and trail runners, as this is a very popular trail in the area. Not dog-friendly. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

There are beautiful cabins located right on the shore at Lake Crescent Lodge. Grab a cider and watch the sunset or try my personal favorite, the hot chocolate. The lodge is pet-friendly, and there are dining options at the lodge.

3. Mount Storm King

If you are up for a challenge, head out on this 5.3-mile trail that starts from the same spot as Marymere Falls (get directions here). This steep hike will get you the best views of Lake Crescent down below. This is a challenging route as it takes around 4 hours to complete with 2,076 feet of elevation. Please note that there are sections of this hike that have ropes to help aid you up the loose dirt. The best time to visit this hike is April – October. Not pet-friendly. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

After this long hike, take a load off at Lake Crescent Lodge with a hot cup of cocoa or a cold refreshing cider!

4. Hurricane Hill via Hurrican Ridge

This is a moderately challenging out-and-back trail that is 3.8 miles with 826 feet of elevation and has beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains as well as the city of Port Angeles (get directions here). On average, it takes about 2 hours to complete this trail, so pack some snacks for the hike. Read more about the hike here.

With Port Angeles fairly close to this trail, I suggest booking a hotel in town. Here are a few options to consider:

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Aircrest Motel

Mid-range: Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles Harbor

Luxury: Olympic Lodge by Ayres

5. Madison Falls

This short walk is 0.3 miles and is wheelchair friendly as it is paved and takes about 5 minutes to complete. Dogs are welcomed on this trail, but please keep them on a leash. Click here to read about “Trail etiquette for hiking with dogs” for more information about hiking with your fur buds. Read more about the walk here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Aircrest Motel

Mid-range: Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles Harbor

Luxury: Olympic Lodge by Ayres

6. Sol Duc Falls

This short 1.6-mile hike delivers amazing views for the effort as it takes you through the beautiful mossy rainforest before reaching the roaring waterfall (get directions here). It is generally considered an easy route that takes about 40 minutes to complete. It is particularly special in the fall when the leaves around the waterfall turn bright yellow. Not dog-friendly but very kid-friendly. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Aircrest Motel

Mid-range: Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles Harbor

Luxury: Olympic Lodge by Ayres

7. Cape Flattery

Another easy 1.2-mile round trip hike takes you to the northwest most point in the contiguous United States (get directions here). From the lookout point at the trail’s end, you can see rugged sea stacks and a lighthouse on Tatoosh Island. If you decide to visit this hike, stop at one of the local businesses in Neah Bay to pick up a parking permit for $20 that will be good for the whole year. Pet-friendly, but pets must be on a leash. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Aircrest Motel

Mid-range: Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles Harbor

Luxury: Olympic Lodge by Ayres

8. Shi Shi Beach

This mostly flat 8.8-mile trail takes you to a beautiful beach great for camping (get directions here). It is considered to be moderately challenging and is far less busy than Second or Third Beaches. This trail is open year-round. You need a permit to camp that is available at Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. You will also need a Makah Recreation pass available at Neah Bay. Not pet-friendly. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Pacific Motel

Mid-range: Woodland Inn

9. Hole-in-the-Wall

Starting at Rialto Beach, this 3.3-mile out and back hike takes you to a unique rock feature directly along the coast. It is considered a moderately challenging route, taking an hour to complete and is very popular for hiking and walking. Once at the arch, you can walk through it if it’s low tide and then take a trail up above it to look back at Rialto Beach. Not dog-friendly. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Pacific Motel

Mid-range: Woodland Inn

10. Second Beach

While listed as a 2-mile round trip, it only takes 0.7 miles of hiking to reach the start of the beach (get directions here). Because of this short approach and the stunning scenery, this popular trail is my favorite spot to camp on the Olympic Peninsula. Something about falling asleep on the sand and the sound of the crashing waves makes it so special. You can also have fires on the beach, which makes for an even more unique experience. Please be sure to put out the fire before leaving and don’t ever leave it unattended. To camp here you do need to stop at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles to get a permit. If you do end up camping here, just watch out for the sneaky raccoons that live near the beach and will steal your food! Not pet-friendly. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Pacific Motel

Mid-range: Woodland Inn

11. Third Beach

While officially listed at 5.4 miles round trip, it only takes 1.3 miles of hiking to reach the start of the beach. Like Second Beach, you will also need a permit to camp here overnight and it is considerably less busy. Not dog-friendly. Read more about it here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Pacific Motel

Mid-range: Woodland Inn

12. Ruby Beach

While listed as 1.4 miles round trip, it only takes an easy 5-minute walk to reach the beginning of this beach. There are a few unique sea-stacks here, and, like most west coast beaches, it is particularly beautiful at sunset. Dog-friendly but need to be on a leash. Read more about the hike here.

NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS

Budget-friendly: Pacific Motel

Mid-range: Woodland Inn

WHAT TO PACK

Packing will depend on what time of year you visit these spots. For example, winter will require a few more layers and an extra change of clothes, whereas summer will involve much lighter clothing. Here is a list of recommendations that I love for both hiking and car essentials.

ROAD TRIP MUST-HAVES

Before heading out on any road trip, always check if you have these things in the car.

HIKING ESSENTIALS

SUGGESTED OUTFIT – WOMEN

SUGGESTED OUTFIT – MEN

BEACH ESSENTIALS

OTHER ESSENTIALS

CAR ESSENTIALS

  • first-aid kit
  • jumper cables
  • flashlight
  • tire pressure gauge
  • jack
  • basic repair tools
  • extra windshield washer fluid

If you are still looking for more packing help, you can book a call with me, and I can curate a personalized packing list for you. Book here.

RECOMMENDED PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR

This trip has various spots where you can capture some amazing content. If you are looking to photograph the beautiful locations of ONP but are unsure what kind of camera gear to get, head over to my “what’s in our camera bag” blog post for detailed photography recommendations.

Edit like a pro

Got some beautiful images on your phone? I have some presets to help you with the edits. Please look at my presets collection and start editing like a pro.

Meet Priya

here to break societal norms.

In 2017, I quit my job and dropped out of school to set out on a path less traveled. Since then, I have ventured across the world, built a van and created a life that both scares me and fulfills me at the same time. And I’ve never looked back.

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