Travel Guide to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington

Olympic National Park Banner - Michael Matti.png

Since moving to Washington, no place here has captivated me quite as much as the Olympic Peninsula. This area of Washington has a magic sort of feel to it that will keep you coming back again and again, atleast that has been the case for me. There is just so much to see and such diverse landscapes to explore. It is home to rugged coastlines, lush forests, raging waterfalls, pristine lakes, and towering peaks... it pretty much has it all. 

I decided to put together this guide to help you figure out what to see on your trip to the Olympic Peninsula. I've included 12 of my favorite hikes as well as some resources to help you best experience the Olympic Peninsula. 


12 Can't Miss Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula

Marymere Falls

1.8 miles RT - 500ft of gain.  This easy hike begins at the Storm King Ranger Station on the shore of Lake Crescent. The trail winds through lush forests and crosses a couple streams before the final uphill section to this 90 foot waterfall.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/marymere-falls   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/marymere-falls-trail

1.8 miles RT - 500ft of gain.

This easy hike begins at the Storm King Ranger Station on the shore of Lake Crescent. The trail winds through lush forests and crosses a couple streams before the final uphill section to this 90 foot waterfall.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/marymere-falls

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/marymere-falls-trail

Mount Storm King

4 miles RT - 2065ft of gain.  While still relatively easy, this is probably the hardest hike on this list. The hike begins at the same spot as the Marymere Falls hike but branches off part way through. The hike starts out relatively flat before it branches off and begins climbing upward, with the steepest sections being at the very top. These upper sections have some ropes to help aid you up the loose dirt. Once you do reach the top, the view over Lake Crescent is amazing.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-storm-king   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/mount-storm-king

4 miles RT - 2065ft of gain.

While still relatively easy, this is probably the hardest hike on this list. The hike begins at the same spot as the Marymere Falls hike but branches off part way through. The hike starts out relatively flat before it branches off and begins climbing upward, with the steepest sections being at the very top. These upper sections have some ropes to help aid you up the loose dirt. Once you do reach the top, the view over Lake Crescent is amazing.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-storm-king

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/mount-storm-king

Hurricane Hill

3.2 miles RT - 650ft of gain.  After the drive up to Hurricane Ridge, this short hike is the perfect way to stretch your legs. From the top you can see out over the Olympic Mountains as well as over the city of Port Angeles and even out to Vancouver Island.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/hurricane-hill   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hurricane-hill-via-hurricane-ridge

3.2 miles RT - 650ft of gain.

After the drive up to Hurricane Ridge, this short hike is the perfect way to stretch your legs. From the top you can see out over the Olympic Mountains as well as over the city of Port Angeles and even out to Vancouver Island.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/hurricane-hill

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hurricane-hill-via-hurricane-ridge

Madison Falls

0.2 miles RT - 0ft of gain.  This "hike" is really more of a 3 minute walk down a paved trail than an actual hike. But nonetheless, it is a fun stop on the drive out to the coast from Port Angeles.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/madison-falls   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/madison-falls-trail

0.2 miles RT - 0ft of gain.

This "hike" is really more of a 3 minute walk down a paved trail than an actual hike. But nonetheless, it is a fun stop on the drive out to the coast from Port Angeles.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/madison-falls

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/madison-falls-trail

Sol Duc Falls

1.6 miles RT - 200ft of gain.  This short hike delivers some amazing views for the effort. The hike takes you through beautiful forest and then ends at an interesting waterfall. It is particularly special in the fall, when the leaves around the waterfall turn bight yellow.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/sol-duc-falls   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/sol-duc-falls-nature-trail

1.6 miles RT - 200ft of gain.

This short hike delivers some amazing views for the effort. The hike takes you through beautiful forest and then ends at an interesting waterfall. It is particularly special in the fall, when the leaves around the waterfall turn bight yellow.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/sol-duc-falls

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/sol-duc-falls-nature-trail

Cape Flattery

1.5 miles RT - 200ft of gain.  This hike takes you to the northwest most point in the contiguous United States. From the lookout point at the end of the trail you can see rugged sea stacks as well as a lighthouse on Tatoosh Island. If you decide to visit this hike be sure to stop at one of the local businesses in Neah Bay to pick up a parking permit.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cape-flattery   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/cape-flattery-trail

1.5 miles RT - 200ft of gain.

This hike takes you to the northwest most point in the contiguous United States. From the lookout point at the end of the trail you can see rugged sea stacks as well as a lighthouse on Tatoosh Island. If you decide to visit this hike be sure to stop at one of the local businesses in Neah Bay to pick up a parking permit.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cape-flattery

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/cape-flattery-trail

Shi Shi Beach

8 miles RT - 200ft of gain.  This mostly flat trail takes you to a beautiful beach that's great for camping. It is far less busy than Second or Third Beaches but does require a bit further of a hike. Another thing to note about this hike is the need for a permit to camp which can be picked up at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. As well as this permit, you will also need a Makah Recreation Pass which can be picked up at one of the local businesses in Neah Bay.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/north-shi-shi-access   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/shi-shi-beach-trail

8 miles RT - 200ft of gain.

This mostly flat trail takes you to a beautiful beach that's great for camping. It is far less busy than Second or Third Beaches but does require a bit further of a hike. Another thing to note about this hike is the need for a permit to camp which can be picked up at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. As well as this permit, you will also need a Makah Recreation Pass which can be picked up at one of the local businesses in Neah Bay.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/north-shi-shi-access

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/shi-shi-beach-trail

Hole-in-the-Wall

4 miles RT - 0ft of gain.  Starting at Rialto Beach, this hike takes you directly along the coast to a unique rock feature. You literally just walk down the beach for 2 miles and you're there. Once at the arch you can walk through it if its low tide and then take a trail up above it to look back at Rialto Beach.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rialto-beach-hole-in-the-wall   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hole-in-the-wall-trail

4 miles RT - 0ft of gain.

Starting at Rialto Beach, this hike takes you directly along the coast to a unique rock feature. You literally just walk down the beach for 2 miles and you're there. Once at the arch you can walk through it if its low tide and then take a trail up above it to look back at Rialto Beach.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rialto-beach-hole-in-the-wall

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hole-in-the-wall-trail

Second Beach

4 miles RT - 310ft of gain.  While listed at 4 miles RT, it only takes 0.7 miles of hiking to reach the start of the beach. Because of this short approach and the stunning scenery, this popular trail is my favorite spot to camp on the Olympic Peninsula. There is just something about falling asleep on the sand to the sound of the crashing waves that makes it special. You can have fires on the beach as well which makes for an even more unique experience. In order to camp here you need to stop at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles to get a permit. If you do end up camping here, just watch out for the sneaky raccoons that live near the beach and will steal your food!  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/second-beach   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/the-quillayute-needles-second-beach-trail

4 miles RT - 310ft of gain.

While listed at 4 miles RT, it only takes 0.7 miles of hiking to reach the start of the beach. Because of this short approach and the stunning scenery, this popular trail is my favorite spot to camp on the Olympic Peninsula. There is just something about falling asleep on the sand to the sound of the crashing waves that makes it special. You can have fires on the beach as well which makes for an even more unique experience. In order to camp here you need to stop at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles to get a permit. If you do end up camping here, just watch out for the sneaky raccoons that live near the beach and will steal your food!

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/second-beach

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/the-quillayute-needles-second-beach-trail

Third Beach

4.6 miles RT - 280ft of gain.  In my opinion this beach is not quite as spectacular as Second Beach but it is certainly less crowded. While officially listed at 4.6 miles RT, it only takes 1.3 miles of hiking to reach the start of the beach. Like Second Beach, you will also need a permit to camp here overnight.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/third-beach   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/third-beach-trail-to-taylor-point

4.6 miles RT - 280ft of gain.

In my opinion this beach is not quite as spectacular as Second Beach but it is certainly less crowded. While officially listed at 4.6 miles RT, it only takes 1.3 miles of hiking to reach the start of the beach. Like Second Beach, you will also need a permit to camp here overnight.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/third-beach

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/third-beach-trail-to-taylor-point

Hall of Mosses

0.8 miles RT - 100ft of gain.  This short hike that begins at the visitor center is perhaps my favorite hike on the Olympic Peninsula simply because of how unique it is. It's hard to put into words how magical this place can feel, particularly early in the morning before most people are on the trail.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/hall-of-mosses   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hoh-rain-forest-hall-of-moss

0.8 miles RT - 100ft of gain.

This short hike that begins at the visitor center is perhaps my favorite hike on the Olympic Peninsula simply because of how unique it is. It's hard to put into words how magical this place can feel, particularly early in the morning before most people are on the trail.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/hall-of-mosses

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hoh-rain-forest-hall-of-moss

Ruby Beach

1.4 miles RT - 68ft of gain.  While listed as 1.4 miles RT, it only takes an easy 5 minute walk to reach the beginning of this beach. There are a few unique sea-stacks here and, like most west coast beaches, it is particularly beautiful at sunset.  WTA link:  https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ruby-beach   AllTrails link:  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/ruby-beach-trail

1.4 miles RT - 68ft of gain.

While listed as 1.4 miles RT, it only takes an easy 5 minute walk to reach the beginning of this beach. There are a few unique sea-stacks here and, like most west coast beaches, it is particularly beautiful at sunset.

WTA link: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ruby-beach

AllTrails link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/ruby-beach-trail


Where to Stay on The Olympic Peninsula

Camping is a great way to experience the Olympic Peninsula. Some of my favorite spots are on the coast and are listed above (Second Beach, Third Beach, Shi Shi Beach). But a few official campgrounds worth staying at are: Hoh CampgroundKalaloch Campground, and Sol Duc Campground.

There are also some great cabin rentals and lodges to stay at. Here are a few of my favorites:

https://qriverresort.com

https://quileuteoceanside.com

https://threeriversresortandguideservice.com

https://www.thekalalochlodge.com

Another good option is AirBnB: https://www.airbnb.com/stay/olympic-national-park


Google Map of the Olympic Peninsula

Here is a Google map with those 12 hikes as well as a few more hikes and photo spots.   https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gGsn2iKq9aFdGqnuEEaDkwIZM0k&usp=sharing   It also includes where to eat and where to stay on the Olympic Peninsula.

Here is a Google map with those 12 hikes as well as a few more hikes and photo spots.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gGsn2iKq9aFdGqnuEEaDkwIZM0k&usp=sharing

It also includes where to eat and where to stay on the Olympic Peninsula.


Additional Resources

Best resource for finding hikes on the Olympic Peninsula: https://www.wta.org/go-outside/map

2nd best hike finding resource: https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/washington/olympic-national-park

3rd best resource: https://www.theoutbound.com/united-states/washington/olympic-peninsula/adventures?page=1

Official National Parks Service map: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/upload/OLYMmap1.pdf

For tours of the Olympic Peninsula I recommend this company:  https://www.hikeolympic.com

Their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hikeolympic/

The Olympic Peninsula Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theolympicpeninsula/

Hall of Mosses Trail in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula by Michael Matti.jpg

Hopefully this guide helps you plan your own trip to the Olympic Peninsula. 

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@MichaelMatti).

HikeOlympic walking Moody forest roads on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington by Michael Matti.jpg