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3 Nights on the Olympic Peninsula

By: Clarice Henry + Save to a List

Olympic National Park, in western Washington, contains three ecosystems; beaches and coastline, glacier-capped mountains, and temperate rainforests. The park covers almost a million acres of the Olympic Peninsula. 

Only two hours away from Seattle, the park offers many activities like hiking, beach walks, backpacking, whale watching, and searching for tide pools. It’s a great destination to add to a trip to the Pacific Northwest. 

If you are looking to extend a trip to Seattle, hop over to Olympic National Park. Here is a packed guide for a short journey circumnavigating the peninsula.

Day 1 - Seattle to Lake Crescent

Snow capped mountain int he background with blue sky and blue water.
From the ferry by Clarice Henry

Set off north from Seattle to the Edmonds/Kingston ferry terminal. Check the schedule in advance to arrive with enough time to buy your ticket and queue up before boarding. Once you board the ferry, walk up to the sun deck to enjoy the 30-minute ride with views of the Puget Sound.

Blue water with mountains coming up from behind.
Lake Crescent by Clarice Henry

After departing from the ferry, head northwest to the town of Port Angeles. While in town, grab a milkshake from Frugals, sit by the water, or stop by the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Head west of town to the crystal-clear waters of Lake Crescent. It is only a 30-minute drive, and the Log Cabin Resort offers cabins right near the water.

Small cabin made from logs with large green trees around it.
Log Cabin Resort by Clarice Henry

After check-in, drive around the lake to the Spruce Railroad Trail. This mostly flat nature trail winds through the massive trees along the water on what used to be a working railway. When you reach the tunnel, veer left to go straight to the Devil’s Punchbowl - home to some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen - and panoramic views of the lake.

Day 2 - Lake Crescent to Forks

Sign board with photos of mountains that are seen in the background.
Hurricane Ridge by Clarice Henry

Set your alarm! Day two requires an early morning start to get back to Port Angeles and head out on a sunrise hike in Olympic National Park. Make a pit stop for coffee and pastries at Buena Luz Bakery on your way into town. (Their jammers - biscuits baked with jam in them - are delicious!) 

Once provisions are secured, head up to the Hurricane Hill trailhead. The drive up the mountain offers gorgeous views of the surrounding terrain. Go past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center (you can stop here on your way back down) and find parking.

Woman walking down trail with many mountains in the background.
At the top of the trail by Clarice Henry

The hike up Hurricane Hill is a little over 3 miles with a gradual climb up 650 feet. Make sure to stop to look at the scenery and you may even spot a grouse or deer. 

From the summit, you see a plethora of high peaks, glaciers, and even Canada across the Salish Sea. Soak up the views on the way back down to the trailhead. Stop by the visitor center to learn about the park, grab a snack, do some shopping, and check out the Olympic mountain range.

Thin water fall coming down gray rocks with green foliage all around.
Marymere Falls by Clarice Henry

When you get back in Port Angeles, grab lunch. The sandwiches at Grayson’s are superb and the french fries were unusually delicious (sweet and salty at once?).

Once you’ve filled your stomach and gas tank in town, it’s time to continue the road trip around the peninsula. Head west towards Lake Crescent. This time, explore the other side of the lakeshore with a walk on the nature trail or a short hike to Marymere Falls.

Large rocks in ocean water with golden skies and shadows of birds flying across the sky.
La Push by Clarice Henry

As you continue west, you will pass through Forks, Washington. (Yes, you heard that right… Forks, the fictional home of Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and the rest of the Twilight series characters.) For sunset, head out to La Push reservation and take in the colorful sky at First Beach or Rialto Beach. Forks will be your home base for the next two nights as you explore the area.

Day 3 - Forks Area

Brown trail signage with greenery to right of a trail.
Hoh River Trail by Clarice Henry

Today’s destination is the Hoh Rainforest, a mossy wonderland of all shades of green. You can hike a short loop through the Hall of Mosses (0.8 miles) or walk as long as you like down the Hoh River Trail. The entire trail is over 17 miles and can be done as a backpacking trip if you have the necessary permits. Pack a lunch and meander through the greenery to find the perfect spot to rest and eat.

Man walking on boardwalk through trees with golden glow.
Cape Flattery Boardwalk by Clarice Henry

For sunset, go to Cape Flattery, the northwestern-most point in the continental United States. It is located within the Makah Indian Reservation. You will need to stop to pick up a Makah Recreation Pass. The hike down is short but steep in places. Closer to the bottom it becomes raised walking platforms that take you to cliffs above the ocean. 

There are a number of viewing platforms, benches, and picnic tables to take in the sunset colors washing across the sky. If you plan to go at sunset, make sure to pack a light source to hike back out once the sun is gone. (Check out some more day hike essentials here.)

Rocks coming our of ocean framed by trees.
Cape Flattery by Clarice Henry

Day 4 - Forks to Seattle

Sandy beach with large trees on the right and waves on the left.
Kalaloch Beah by Clarice Henry

The road trip is coming to an end as you finish the circle back to Seattle. The drive back is around 4 hours from Forks. If you leave early enough, you can make beach stops along the way to stretch your legs.

The Tree of Life is one great place to stop. It’s alive, but its roots are completely exposed. Kalaloch Beach is another great pit-stop option. It has a restaurant, little shops, and a beautiful beach you can walk on. 

Make Lake Quinault your last stop. This crystal blue body of water has short trails perfect for stretching your legs. Once you make it to the town of Hoquaim, you are back to civilization and on highways the rest of the way to Seattle.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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