Looking for an outdoor adventure that packs a punch? Hike Olympic National Park this summer. The nearly one million-acre park in Washington State is a treasure trove of diverse and majestic landscapes. The variety of ecosystems, from rugged coast to bright green rainforest to glaciated mountains, is a big part of what makes Olympic National Park one of the best destinations in the U.S. for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts.
Located on the Olympic Peninsula, the park’s somewhat remote environment has sparked the evolution of unique flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else. Plus, paved roads don’t venture into the center of the national park. If you want to experience the heart of Olympic National Park, hiking is your best bet.
Luckily, the area boasts over 600 miles of trails of all difficulty levels. Whether you’re looking for a stroll with a view, a challenging multi-day backpacking trip, or something in between, you’ll find it at Olympic National Park. In this post, we’re focusing on day hikes rather than backpacking trips.
Now is the ideal time to head to Olympic National Park. Visiting during the dry season from April to September means you’ll be less likely to get rained on. In particular, late summer guarantees optimal temperatures and open facilities.
Ready to plan your Olympic hiking tour? Read on for seven of the best hiking trails in this illustrious national park, along with some standout spots for van camping near the trailheads.
Hall of Mosses Trail
Taking only thirty minutes for the entire loop, this hike is certainly the easiest of our picks. What makes the Hall of Mosses worth a visit is the vibrant landscape of old, gnarled trees draped in curtains of moss. Expect to soak in the scenery and take plenty of photos. As one of the most impressive examples of the area’s verdant temperate rainforest ecosystem, the Hall of Mosses is quite popular, so plan to get there early in the morning to avoid crowds. Luckily, you can dry camp at the adjacent Hoh Rainforest Campground and plan your walk for less-busy times.
Ozette Triangle Trail
For a longer–yet still manageable–hike, head towards the water. The Ozette Triangle loop is almost ten miles but mostly flat, meaning you can knock it out in about three to four hours. You’ll get the best of both worlds with a forest hike leading to a rewarding beach reveal. Then you’ll walk along the beach and return by a different route on the Sand Point Trail. Pro tip: time your arrival at the coast for low tide so you can stroll along the hard-packed sand rather than struggle to make your way through the soft sand.
Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge
Your entire family can enjoy this hike and the jaw-dropping views along the way. The paved path is wheelchair accessible and stroller-friendly. The trail offers bucolic scenes of meadows and mountains for the entire hike but rewards you with an especially notable view over the expansive alpine landscape at the endpoint before turning back. Keep an eye out for wildlife like deer and marmots on the hillsides. A less loveable variety of local critters, mosquitos, can also be plentiful at this time of year, so don’t forget insect repellent spray! For more tips on beating the bugs while van camping, check out our post.
Mount Storm King
Want to get your heart pumping? Check out this challenging 3.5-hour hike. You’ll gain elevation quickly with steep switchbacks and top out at a panoramic view over Lake Crescent. You can also tack the short and shady Marymere Falls Trail to the beginning or end of your Mount Storm King hike. Or cool off after the trek with a dip in Lake Crescent from the trailhead. This is one of the most popular hikes in Olympic National Park, so aim to arrive early in the day for a less-crowded trail.
Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail
If you’re a fan of both nature and a little luxury, this is the spot for you. At Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, you’ll van camp in comfort and take advantage of three mineral hot spring soaking pools along with a refreshing swimming pool. Before soaking and swimming, check out the iconic Sol Duc Falls with an easy 45-minute out-and-back trail. Later, treat yourself to a delicious meal at the resort’s restaurant, which highlights local ingredients and Northwestern cuisine. If you’re staying in Olympic National Park for a while and checking out multiple spots on this list or doing a longer backpacking trip, consider utilizing the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort as an end-of-trip treat.
Shi Shi Beach Trail
Speaking of backpacking, the Shi Shi Beach Trail provides hikers with the option to finish the out-and-back route in one day or stay overnight on the beach before heading back. This moderately difficult 8.8-mile trail could serve as a day trip or a gentle introduction to the wide world of backpacking in Olympic National Park, depending on your preference. Either way, you’ll be treated to dramatic rainforest and beach scenery. Pro tip: come prepared with waterproof shoes for a muddy adventure on the first section of the trail–it is the rainforest, after all.
Hole-in-the-Wall From Rialto Beach
For a more gentle coastal hike, check out this route near Forks, Washington. Fans of long walks on the beach will rejoice; the trail is the beach itself! The hike takes about an hour, but we recommend blocking off extra time to hang out on the beach and marvel at the striking sea stacks. You’ll make your way to the peculiar Hole-in-the-Wall rock formation where you can snap photos and, at low tide, peek into tide pools filled with starfish and anemones. Another unique feature of the area? The giant sun bleached pieces of driftwood dotting the beach.
It costs $30 per vehicle to enter Olympic National Park. You’ll be permitted to stay for up to seven consecutive days. The established campgrounds at the park are affordable at $15-$25 per night, while the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is more of a splurge at $55 per night with optional pool pass fees.
Regardless of which of these trails you choose to explore, you won’t be disappointed by the majestic and diverse terrain of Olympic National Park. For the van to take you there, visit Rec Van.