Which Trail Should I Hike in Olympic National Park?
We have included descriptions to give you a sense of what to expect on the trails from a relaxing stroll down a striking beach to a strenuous hike to a waterfall.
What do you most want to see in Olympic National Park? Here are some of our favorites to explore in the park. It’s always a good idea to check the park website or talk to a ranger at a visitor center to find out if the trail you want to hike is open or closed because of trail maintenance, wildlife sightings or weather-related damage.
1. I want to see incredible mountain views.
Hurricane Hill Trail
High country view above the treeline
Get some altitude and have an alpine experience on Hurricane Ridge. A popular family hike is the 3-mile roundtrip Hurricane Hill. On clear days you will have extraordinary mountain and ocean views, including the Cascades and Vancouver Island. You might even see deer and birds along the way.
Bring along a windbreaker as the area tends to get windy. Check in at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to grab a map before hitting the trail. To avoid crowds and get a parking spot, arrive early since this area is super popular.
The Hurricane Hill Trail underwent improvements and after three years fully opened on Aug. 10, 2020. See pictures of the improvements at www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-hill-trail-project.htm.
2. I want to see a lush rainforest.
Hall of Mosses
Less than a mile round trip
Walk under a dense canopy of big leaf maples and vine maples on the .8-mile loop called the Hall of Mosses. This short, .8-mile loop has educational signage along the trail, giving you insight into this beautiful rainforest. Large mammals like Roosevelt elk and smaller creatures like banana slugs live in this area, so you may be fortunate enough to catch sight of them on your hike.
Hoh River Trail to Five-Mile Island
10-11 miles round trip
For a 10.6-mile roundtrip hike without much elevation gain – less than 500 feet- hit the Hoh River Trail to Five Mile Island. The trail begins at the Hall of Mosses and then continues for several more miles through dense mossy floor, past small streams and eventually to Five Mile Island. A great lunch spot, Five Mile Island offers wonderful views of Bogachiel Peak.
3. I want to see a misty waterfall.
Hike to Sol Duc Falls
Two trail options: Lover’s Lane Loop, 6 miles round trip and uncrowded, or Sol Duc Trail, 1.6 miles round trip and popular.
The roundtrip 6-mile Lover’s Lane Loop follows the Sol Duc River through a lush old-growth forest. With downed logs and ferns that almost cover the path, at times it seems as if nature is reclaiming this quiet trail. Cross a wooden bridge and boardwalk along the way. You’ll hear the thundering sounds of Sol Duc Falls before you see them. If you are lucky and the sun is out, you’ll see rainbows in the mist surrounding the falls. Don’t forget to look in the river for cutthroat and steelhead salmon that run in the fall and winter.
You can get to this trailhead on the Sol Duc Campground Loop B road. The non intrusive, almost hidden trailhead on the right is past the camp bathrooms and has roadside parking for half a dozen vehicles.
The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort down the road opens for the season in late March. In winter, the Sol Duc River Road can close because of snowfall, so check online before you head this way.
Not up for a 6-mile hike? Drive farther down the Sol Duc River Road and start your hike at the Sol Duc Trailhead for a 0.8 mile hike to the falls. This trail is one of the most popular in the park and heavily traveled.
Marymere Falls Hiking Trail
Easy access to parking lot off the highway
This 1.8 mile roundtrip trail leads you through old-growth forest to the spectacular Marymere Falls. Stretching 90-feet tall, the falls drop into a small pool. A great outing for all ages, this trail is mostly flat and easily accessible from the Lake Crescent area.
4. I want to see coastal tidal pools and sea stacks.
3 miles round trip on rocky beach
Take a 3-mile roundtrip walk to Hole-in-the-Wall, a sea-carved arch located 1.5 miles north of Rialto Beach. Along the way, you’ll discover incredible tidal pools full of starfish and other marine creatures, along with driftwood. Be sure to bring a tide table with you and walk to the Hole-in-the-Wall during low tide. Tide tables are available at any visitor center in the park and are mandatory. Without a tide table, you could end up trapped when the tides comes up. Take Mora Road and park at the lot right above Rialto Beach.
Shi Shi Beach to Point of Arches
8 miles round trip through forest, down steep embankment and on sandy beach
Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the Pacific Northwest, Shi Shi Beach walk to Point of Arches is a stunning 8-mile roundtrip adventure. You start in groves of Sitka spruce, hiking through the forest along often very, very muddy trails for two miles. The last section down to the beach is steep but worth the effort. Continue the last 2.5 miles to Point of Arches, which is a mile-long stretch of sea arches. Look for sea otters and creatures in tidal pools along the way.
Be sure to bring a tide table with you to avoid getting trapped when the tide comes up if you head south of Point of Arches. Tide tables are available at any visitor center in the park and are mandatory. Without a tide table, you could end up trapped when the tides comes up.
A Makah Recreation Pass is required for parking at the trailhead. One pass per vehicle is required. You can purchase one at Hobuck Beach Resort, Makah Tribal Center, Makah Marina and Washburn General Store, among other places. You can see all locations here makah.com/activities/
Need an Olympic National Park map? Buy the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park map at REI.com. The map includes clearly marked trails and points of interest such as scenic views, campgrounds, trailheads, boat launches, picnic sites, ranger stations and more printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.