Best Day Hikes in Olympic National Park
Washington State’s Olympic National Park offers a wealth of natural beauty, including glaciers, snowy peaks, rugged coastlines and old-growth rainforests. If you’re planning an excursion to this wild and wonderful peninsula, but only have one day in Olympic National Park to do so, don’t worry — you can still enjoy the best of the park by taking one of our six recommended day hikes.
This 9.5-mile loop is one of the top day hikes in Olympic National Forest, and is a great way to introduce yourself to Olympic National Park’s coast region. This trail, which meanders through miles of lush rainforest and offers countless stunning views, consists of three legs. Two of the legs are the Cape Alava Trail and the North Sand Point Trail, both of which originate at the Ozette Campground and end at the coast roughly three miles apart. The third leg follows the coastline and connects the other two trails to form a triangle-shaped loop.
After passing Cape Alava, you will then head south along the coast toward Wedding Rocks, where, if the tide is low, you’ll be able to see some ancient petroglyphs on boulders by the cliff.
Leaving from Ozette Campground, many people choose to begin their hike on the Cape Alava Trail. Hiking in this direction, you will first encounter a beautiful old-growth forest of western hemlock, western red cedar and Sitka spruce. After hiking along this trail for 3.4 miles, you’ll reach the coast at Cape Alava, the westernmost point of the contiguous United States. Here, you’ll find several backcountry campsites and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. If the tide is low, you can even walk over to Tskawahya Island, where you can enjoy views of Ozette Island and the Bodelteh Islands.
Once you leave Wedding Rocks, you will then continue south along the coast to Sand Point, a beach roughly 1.5 miles long that features some campsites at its southern end. At Sand Point, you’ll then take the North Sand Point Trail, which will lead you back to the Ozette Campground.
2. Hurricane Hill
Ascending the 1.5-mile trail to Hurricane Hill is one of the park’s most popular hikes. In addition to the stunning views it offers, it’s also wide and only takes a few hours, making it ideal for those bringing along young or elderly guests.
If hiking the trail during the summertime, you can enjoy the wildflowers that abound in the surrounding meadows, including Scotch bluebells and Indian paintbrush. You may also catch a glimpse of some local fauna, including mountain goats, elk and perhaps even bears. Once you reach the summit, you can enjoy fantastic views of Mount Clark, Mount Walkinshaw, Chimney Peak, Crystal Peak and the most prominent of them all: Mount Olympus.
If you happen to visit in the wintertime, this trail makes a great snowshoe route.
3. Lena Lake
The Lena Lake hike is one of the best easy day hikes in Olympic National Park. It allows visitors to enjoy the park’s famous viewpoints, alpine lakes and old-growth forests without having to scale steep mountains or venture deep into remote forests. This 3.6-mile trail, which is accessible from a paved road and is suitable for hikers of varying levels of experience, leads you through forests of Douglas fir and Western red cedar. The trail is also wide, mostly well-maintained and not too steep. This hike is particularly popular in the spring and summer.
After crossing several footbridges and passing through several switchbacks, you will soon arrive at the 55-acre, 1,300-year-old Lena Lake. Once you arrive at its shore, the trail will fork to the right and lead to an outcropping 100 feet over the lake, where you will first get a full view of this majestic body of water and the mountain peaks in the background. At this point, you can either head back or rejoin the main path that hugs the lake’s shore and leads to backcountry campsites.
4. Sol Duc Falls
If you’re staying at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort or stopping by to relax in its pools, you can’t miss out on the hike to Sol Duc Falls. This family-friendly trail, beginning just up the river from the resort, ventures into a lush, green, old-growth forest with towering Douglas firs and Western hemlocks. After passing the Canyon Creek Shelter, an old building used by the Civilian Conservation Corps, you’ll soon reach the 50-foot Sol Duc Falls, surrounded by towering trees and stunning viewpoints. Don’t forget to bring your camera.
5. Maiden Peak
The hike to Maiden Peak from Obstruction Point is one of Olympic National Park’s highest-elevation trails. On this hike, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympics and the North Cascades. Wildland Trekking leads an out-and-back day hike to Maiden Peak that starts relatively early in the day, allowing guests plenty of time to enjoy the stunning panoramic views, take lots of great photos and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch along the way. This eight-mile hike takes five to seven hours to complete and features an 840-foot elevation gain.
6. Skokomish River
This short, scenic loop hike goes along the Skokomish River’s North Fork to Staircase Rapids. This trail is mostly level and just over two miles long, making it an excellent choice for families lodging at Staircase Campground or those searching for a short hike to couple with an excursion to Lake Cushman.
Starting at the ranger station, this trail delves into lush forests with mosses and sword ferns. Here you can also take in the long, terraced rapids from various perspectives before arriving at a suspension bridge. Once you cross this majestic bridge, you either return downstream by taking the Rapids Loop Trail or, if you have time to spare, continue hiking upstream to Flapjack Lakes. Wildland Trekking offers a guided excursion along this route, with an optional extension of the hike down the “Shady Lane” trail, which allows hikers to learn more about the ecology of the park’s old-growth forests. This relatively easy hike takes four to six hours to complete and is four to eight miles in length.
Join Wildland Trekking for Unforgettable Olympic National Park Day Hikes
If you’d like to hike the best of Olympic National Park in one day, join Wildland Trekking on a guided, all-inclusive hiking excursion. Our award-winning company provides the most experienced guides, the highest safety standards and all the gear you’ll need to make it there and back.