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20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula

03.05.17

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20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
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  • Sams River Loop Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) covered in mosses on Sams River Loop Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Gatton Creek Falls in the Quinault National Trail System.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Giant Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) in the Quinault National Trail System.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • View south across Hoh River from the Sitka Nature Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • View south across Hoh River from the Sitka Nature Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) near the Hall of Moss Trailhead.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) covered in mosses on the Hall of Moss Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • The Quinault Giant Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata).- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • The Quinault Giant Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata).- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Skokomish River, Staircase Rapids suspension bridge.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Staircase Rapids on the North Fork of the Skokomish River.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Lena Lake looking south.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Lena Lake Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Mount Angeles: Mount Olympus (7,979') and Mount Carrie (6,995') rise in the distance beyond the Hurricane Ridge visitor center.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Mount Angeles: Switchback Trail parking lot far below the scramble descent.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Mount Ellinor Trail: View south toward Lake Cushman and the Hood Canal.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Mount Ellinor Trail: View north from the summit of Mount Ellinor.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • High Divide Loop: Lunch Lake found in the Seven Lakes Basin.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Mount Olympus (7,979') from the High Divide Trail.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Royal Basin backcountry ski tour, Olympic National park.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Royal Basin backcountry ski tour, Olympic National Park: Seattle lights over Royal Lake.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Blue Mountain Summit: Northeast view at dusk.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Looking south from the Blue Mountain Summit across the Grand, Cameron, and Grey Wolf valleys toward the Grey Wolf Ridge, including Mount Walkinshaw and the Needles.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Hole-in-the-wall, Olympic National Park.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Sunset at Hole-in-the-wall, Olympic National Park.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • La Push, Second Beach panoramic view.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • View toward Crying Lady Rock and the Quillayute Needles from La Push, Second Beach.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Tongue Point and Crescent Bay.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Sunset on the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Tongue Point.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • A view into the bay from one of Cape Flattery's observation decks.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Sunset over Cape Flattery.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Lake Crescent from Lake Crescent Lodge.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • The front lawn at Lake Crescent Lodge.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Rising above the forest on the way back to Obstruction Point.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
  • Obstruction Point: A view from the ridge.- 20 Incredible Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula
Article
Team

From lush and insanely saturated temperate rainforests to rugged and wave-battered coastal beaches, glaciated alpine ecosystems to wildlife-filled meadows, the Olympic Peninsula presents numerous possibilities for exploration and adventure. 

The western coast of the peninsula receives up to 12 feet of rain annually, making it the wettest place in the lower 48. But don't let that dampen your plans to visit to this incredible area. The area just to the east of the mountains only receives 20 inches of rain per year. 

There are hundreds of amazing hikes, campgrounds, parks, beaches, and kayaking options on the Olympic Peninsula and in Olympic National Park, but here are a few adventures that should not be overlooked. 

Get Lost in the Rainforest

Walking on the slightly soggy Sam's River Loop Trail. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

Lose yourself in a rainforest and you'll feel like you've stepped back in time, away from civilization, surrounded by layers of awe-inspiring old-growth. The Sam's River Loop Trail in the Queets River Valley is one of the most remote portions of the area that is still accessible by road.

If you want to get in touch with your inner Lorax, you'll enjoy plethora of giant trees on the Quinault National Recreation Trail, the Sitka Nature Trail, and the Hall of Moss Trail. Don't miss the 1,000-year-old Quinault Giant Western Red Cedar, the largest of its species in the world.

If you're already in Olympic National Park, it's definitely worth a stop at Sol Duc Falls, a 50-foot waterfall in a slot canyon. Looking for something kid-friendly? The Skokomoish River Staircase Rapids Loop Trail is just the ticket.

Hike for Amazing Views

View of Seven Lakes Basin from the High Divide Loop. Photo by Heron Marychild

Once you've thoroughly soaked yourself meandering in the verdant forests, give your legs and lungs a workout. Lena Lake is a short and often crowded hike, but the alpine lake offers amazing views and a few great backcountry campsites should you want to stay the night. Mount Angeles and Mount Ellinor are ideal day hikes. The High Divide LoopObstruction Pass to Moose Lake, and Royal Basin may be a bit ambitious for a day hike, but these are perfect backpacking destinations. All five offer amazing views of Lake Cushman, the Hood Canal, and numerous Olympic peaks including Mount Washington, Mount Pershing to the northeast, and Mount Olympus. You'll also catch glimpses of Mount Baker and Mount Rainier if the weather permits.

For more views with less effort, check out the half-mile trail to Blue Mountain Summit in Olympic National Park.

Stroll on the Beach

Tongue Point along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

A trip to the Olympic Peninsula wouldn't be complete without a stop on the coast. You can visit Hole-in-the-Wall and camp on Rialto Beach or ponder the existence of vampires on La Push, Second Beach, a site for several scenes in the Twilight film series. You won't regret a stop to examine the marine life in the tide pools at Tongue Point in the Salt Creek Recreation Area, and if you want to get away from the crowds, drive out to Cape Flattery to catch the sunset. 

After all this hiking and driving, pull up an Adirondack chair at Lake Crescent, warm your toes with a beach bonfire, and reminisce about your adventure while sipping a glass of wine, a local brew, or a nice cup of tea. 

See our post on exploring the Olympic Peninsula's biodiversity to learn more about the four distinct regions and see more awesome adventure ideas.

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