A Guide to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

by Molly FitzMorris, IELP Student Coordinator

 

Did you know that there’s a huge beautiful rainforest just a few hours from Seattle?  The Olympic Peninsula, just west of the Puget Sound, is home to Olympic National Park and the Olympic Mountains.  It is also home to emerald moss-covered trees, rivers, lakes, and stunning waterfalls.  The Olympic Peninsula is one of my favorite places on Earth, and a spring weekend is the perfect time for a visit.  Below I’ll give you some tips and places to see should you decide to go.

 

My must-see spots on the Olympic Peninsula:

Below are my absolute favorite places on the Olympic Peninsula.  If you plan carefully and spend one night in a town like Sequim or Port Angeles, you can leave Seattle Saturday morning, see all five spots below, and be back in Seattle Sunday night!

 

  1. Lake Crescent

lake crescent

East Beach, Lake Crescent, March 2017, photographed by Molly FitzMorris

 

Lake Crescent is a glacial lake, near the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula.  When the water is still, it reflects the mountains that surround it.  If the weather is warm, you can swim or rent a boat to explore the lake, and on cooler days, you can hike nearby.  Check out the National Park Service’s website for more information.

 

  1. Hurricane Ridge

hurricane ridge

Hurricane Ridge, photo courtesy of the National Park Service

 

Hurricane Ridge is nestled in the Olympic Mountain range.  You can drive about 17 miles from the town of Port Angeles up into the mountains to find the view pictured above (on a clear day, anyway).  You can look at the Hurricane Ridge webcam to see if the mountains are visible before driving up.  Be aware that you’ll need to pay to access Hurricane Ridge ($25 for a one-week pass, or $50 for a pass good for one year), and you’ll need to carry tire chains in your car if the road is snowy.  Check out the National Park Service’s website for more information.

 

  1. Cape Flattery

cape flattery

Cape Flattery, February 2017, photographed by Molly FitzMorris

 

Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point in the 48 contiguous United States.  When visiting Cape Flattery, you can take a short, easy hike through a beautiful forest to several lookouts like the one shown above.  (I also highly recommend the nearby Makah Cultural and Research Center, a museum created by and about a local Native American tribe.  You can find more information about that here.)

 

 

  1. Lake Ozette

lake ozette

Cape Alava and Tskawahyah Island, near Lake Ozette, February 2016, photographed by Molly FitzMorris

 

While Lake Ozette is undoubtedly beautiful, what I enjoyed most about this area was the Ozette Triangle Trail.  This hike takes you a few miles, from Lake Ozette through a stunning rainforest to a gorgeous Pacific Ocean beach.  Once you reach the beach, you can see Tskawahyah Island, pictured above, and some magnificent ocean stacks.  Check out the Washington Trails Association’s website for more information about this hike.

 

 

  1. Sol Duc Falls

sol duc falls

Sol Duc Falls, October 2014, photographed by Molly FitzMorris

 

Sol Duc Falls is one of my favorite waterfall hikes, and it’s not far from Lake Crescent!  You can drive a few miles from Highway 101 down Sol Duc Road to the trailhead.  From there, it’s a short and easy hike to the waterfall.  Unlike a lot of waterfall hikes, this hike takes you across the Sol Duc River, so you can view the waterfall from above, instead of from below.  Check out the National Park Service’s website for more information.

 

Other great spots:

  • Marymere Falls (info)

  • Hoh Rainforest (info)

  • Dungeness Spit (info)

  • Ruby Beach (info)

 

Be sure to check out all the relevant websites before going to the spots listed above, as sometimes roads can be unexpectedly closed or there might be a fee for parking or to visit certain spots.  Also, don’t forget to pack a rain jacket with a hood and comfortable waterproof shoes; it is usually very wet and rainy on the Peninsula!  Enjoy your trip to this nearby paradise, and take lots of pictures!

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