hroughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Hoh Rain Forest, contributing to the yearly total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet!) of precipitation each year. The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.
The Hoh Rain Forest is located in the stretch of the Pacific Northwest rainforest which once spanned the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. The Hoh is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular destinations.
The Hoh lies on the west side of Olympic National Park, about a two-hour drive from Port Angeles and under an hour from Forks. The Hoh Rain Forest is accessed by the Upper Hoh Road, off of Highway 101 (directions).
The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, located at the end of the Upper Hoh Road, is a great place to start. The staff there can give you ideas for your visit and exhibits will help explain what makes this area so special. The visitor center is open daily during the summer, closed December through early March, and generally open Friday through Sunday during the spring and fall seasons (hours may vary according to season.)
Two short nature trails loop through the forest near the Visitor Center -- the Hall of Mosses Trail (.8 miles), and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles).
The Hoh's major hiking trail is the Hoh River trail, which leads 17.3 miles to Glacier Meadows, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus. The Hoh Lake trail branches off from the Hoh River trail just after the ranger station and ascends to Bogachiel Peak between the Hoh and the Sol Duc Valley.
A general map and information regarding facilities, picnic areas, camping, and regulations can be found on the park's Hoh Rain Forest brochure (PDF).
Sol Duc Vally
Old-growth forest, subalpine lakes, and snowy peaks populate the Sol Duc landscape, while the Sol Duc River serves as a key highway for coho salmon, running through the valley and ascending to the lakes and headwaters in the surrounding mountains.
The Sol Duc Valley is located in the northwest region of the park. Just 40 minutes west of Port Angeles, the Sol Duc is accessed by turning off Highway 101 onto the Sol Duc Road (directions).
For those looking to spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day in the Sol Duc, there are a number of shorter hikes that may be suitable. From the parking lot, the walk through old-growth forest to the Sol Duc Falls overlook is just a mile. Lover's Lane (6 mile loop) and the climb to Mink Lake (5.2 miles roundtrip) can also be done in just a few hours.
The Sol Duc Valley has a number of longer hiking trails which explore both the valleys and the mountains. The High Divide Loop that passes through Seven Lakes Basin is a popular 2-3 day hike. The views of Mount Olympus are astounding on a clear day.
The Salmon Cascades overlook is another popular destination during late October/early November. About 5 miles down the Sol Duc Road, visitors come to watch the determined coho salmon leap over the falls on their way to spawn upstream in the Sol Duc River.
Make sure to check the park's fishing regulations!
A general map and information regarding facilities, camping, picnic areas, and regulations can be found on the park's Sol Duc Valley brochure (pdf).
Nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains, Lake Crescent lies about 18 miles west of Port Angeles (directions). The pristine waters of this deep, glacially carved lake make it an ideal destination for those in search of natural beauty.
A massive landslide isolated Lake Crescent from Lake Sutherland approximately 7,000 years ago. There are two uniquely adapted populations, the Crescenti and Beardslee trout, that resulted from genetic isolation following this event.
Lake Crescent has several hiking trails, some of which climb the surrounding mountains, and others that explore the lowland forests and creeks. The hike to Marymere Falls by way of the Barnes Creek trail, is a favorite, as is the Spruce Railroad trail that runs along the north shore.
There are plenty of picnic areas around the lake. Fairholme, Bovee's Meadow, La Poel, and the North Shore all have tables.
Many people enjoy going out onto the water during the summer and fall. Boat launches are located at both east and west ends of the lake. Rowboats are available for rental from Lake Crescent Lodge. Whether it's kayaking, sailing, or simply relaxing on the beaches and shores, Lake Crescent is a great place to visit.
A general map and information about facilities, picnicking areas, campgrounds, and regulations can be found on the park's Lake Crescent brochure (pdf).
La Push / Rialto Beach
Rocky beaches, giant drift logs, pounding waves and views of offshore islands known as 'seastacks' are features that define Rialto Beach.
Just inland is the Mora area, characterized by towering trees, lush undergrowth and the omnipresent roar of the Pacific Ocean in the background.
Rialto Beach is accessible by Mora Road, off of La Push Road. Rialto Beach is about 36 miles southwest of Lake Crescent, and about 75 miles from Port Angeles (directions).
Hole-in-the-Wall is a sea-carved arch about 1.5 mile north of Rialto Beach, within the Olympic wilderness.
The Quillayute River blocks access from Rialto Beach to First, Second, and Third Beaches. First Beach is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation (Quileute Indian Nation); Second and Third Beaches just to the south are located within Olympic National Park and are part of the Olympic Wilderness Coast.
Always check the tides! It's possible to get stranded when certain areas of the coast become impassable when high tide rolls in.
A general map and information regarding facilities, picnic areas, camping, and regulations can be found on the park's Mora brochure (pdf).
Cape Flattery Trail
From the tip of this scenic trail, you can view Tatoosh Island while standing on the most northwesterly tip of the contiguous lower 48 States. Four observation decks on the Cape Flattery Trail provide spectacular views of the rugged rocks, birds, and jade waters of the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific takes on many hues depending on the weather and cloud cover from steel gray to light pink or yellow at sunset. Watch for gray whales off the Cape and sea lions on Snake Rock just east of Tatoosh Island. Click here for more info.
0.75 miles from trailhead to overlook
A Makah Recreation Pass is required to park at the trail head. Please check Activities for information on purchase locations.
This is a great year-round waterfall seen by many Olympic National Park visitors. The Park Service seasonally offers nature tours. If it is open, stop at the historic reconstructed ranger station for more information about the Park. Click here for more info.
Beaver Creek Falls is a small- to medium- volume, block-type falls that cascades about 20 feet across the full 70 foot width of Beaver Creek. At lower flows, typically in summer, only the left 1/3 portion of the channel carries the flow over the fall. Upstream about 0.6 miles is Beaver Lake, a marshy and slow moving area of the creek. Click here for more info.
Madison Creek Falls
This delightful falls at the Elwha River Entrance to Olympic National Park is wheelchair accessible on a short, paved, 200 feet path to the base of the falls. Picnic tables a located by the parking lot as well with a beautiful view of the mountain peaks to the south. Click here for more info.
Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park. In clear weather, fantastic views can be enjoyed throughout the year.
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is a great place to start. Located just before the end of the road, stop here for brochures, maps, snacks, and tips regarding your stay. It is open daily in the summer, and on Saturday/Sunday when the Hurricane Ridge Road is open during the remainder of the year.
Hurricane Ridge has a number of hiking trails, from ridgetop traverses to steep trails that descend to subalpine lakes and valleys. Obstruction Point Road (weather and snow permitting, open from July 4 through October 15), branches off right before the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, and provides access to a variety of trails as well.
During the winter months, snow enthusiasts enjoy the winter scenery, along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Cluboperates two rope tows and a Poma lift. During the spring, wildflowers cover the ground of the subalpine meadows and blacktail deer are often spotted grazing. Sunrise and sunset on a clear day provide magnificent panoramic views of the park.
Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles on Hurricane Ridge Road, off Mount Angeles Road (directions).
The road is open throughout summer. During the winter season, the road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, weather and road conditions permitting. All vehicles must carry tire chains during the winter season. Check the road status before coming by calling (360)565-3131 (recorded message).
A general map and information regarding facilities, picnic areas, camping, and regulations can be found on the park's Hurricane Ridge brochure (PDF).