7 of the Best Hikes in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of Washington’s best parks for its fantastic variety of hiking trails. From quick and easy loops through the forest to extended beachside walks, there’s something for every kind of adventurer here. To get you started on planning your next trip here, these are the absolute best hikes in Olympic National Park for every level, including the must-see spots and some hidden gems:
1. Rialto Beach Trail: 13.5 miles out and back
The first up on this list of the best hikes in Olympic National Park is the Rialto Beach Trail. You can visit the beach on its own, without embarking on the long coastal walk. However, there’s much to enjoy on this route, making it an extraordinary journey from start to finish.
Although most of the hike is flat, it can be challenging if you don’t have the proper footwear, as the rocks on the shore are slippery and tricky to walk on. Hiking boots are ideal versus sandals, so pack accordingly.
Although you can technically hike the entire length of this trail, make sure to diligently check the tide, as the section after Hole-in-the-Wall is inaccessible during high tide. The National Park Service also recommends carrying a topographic map on your hike.
If you decide to hike from Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall, famous for its tide pools and rock formations, it’s only 1.5 miles each way. If you visit during low tide, you might also be able to see some sea stars and anemones!
2. Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge Trail: 3.2 miles, out and back
This trail leads up to one of the most spectacular viewpoints in all of Olympic National Park, so if that isn’t a reason to give it a try, I don’t know what is. From the panoramic view at the trail’s end, you’ll see (on a clear day) the Olympic range, Puget Sound, and Vancouver Island.
The total elevation gain for this trail is about 700 feet. Most of it is paved, so it’s not as wild as others in the park, but there are still ample opportunities to see wildlife along the way.
The trailhead starts about 1.5 miles past the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center and leads to one of the most accessible hikes on this list. The first quarter-mile is even wheelchair accessible.
3. Mount Storm King Trail: 4 miles, out and back
This challenging hike is certainly not for the faint of heart, as it requires a two-mile uphill trek. It has a total elevation gain of just over 2,000 feet, making it one of the steepest hikes in the park. Although it’s quite the feat to get to the top of the trail, the breathtaking view makes the journey worth it.
Keep in mind that the last 0.7 miles is a climbers trail and is unmaintained. There are ropes to aid your climb, but they are not installed or maintained by the land manager and therefore might not be safe to use. This area is quite wild and becomes unpredictable when the weather becomes severe, so avoid this hike if there’s rain or substantial wind in the forecast.
This hike begins at Storm King Ranger Station. Since you will gain so much elevation, the flora will change slowly from a thick green scene to more sparse, gnarly trees as you make your way up.
If you aren’t down for the entire climb, there are plenty of small outcroppings that grant amazing views of Lake Crescent and beyond, as well as other sights along the trail.
4. Hall of Mosses Trail: 1 mile, loop
Part of the iconic Hoh Rain Forest, the Hall of Mosses Trail is a quick and easy hike that will take you on a mystical mile-long loop. This is an excellent option if you’re running low on time, as it only takes about 24 minutes to walk the entirety of the trail. Because not everyone plans to spend several days in Olympic National Park on long hikes, it’s essential to include short and sweet trails like this one.
This trail gives you an express view of what the rest of the Hoh Rain Forest looks has in store. It’s aptly named for the thick tufts of moss hanging from the trees and covering large swaths of ground. It’s a truly magical sight, the perfect small dose of what you can expect on the longer hikes through the rainforest.
5. Marymere Falls Trail: 3.3 miles, out and back
Another short, sweet, and easy entry on this list of the best hikes in Olympic National Park, the Marymere Falls Trail deserves a spot on your itinerary. It takes about 50 minutes to traverse, with the stunning Marymere waterfall waiting for you at the end.
The elevation gain for this one is only about 300 feet; the journey is uphill on the way to the falls and downhill on the way back. You’ll start near the Storm King Ranger Station and then make your way through the lush forest near Lake Crescent, encountering just a few switchbacks before ending up at the waterfall.
If you’re still craving more adventure upon arriving at the waterfall, you can continue to the Barnes Creek Trail.
6. Ruby Beach: Varies
This is more of a choose-your-own-adventure than an out-and-back or loop hike. Ruby Beach features towering sea stacks, pristine tide pools, and layers of driftwood that feel like an adult jungle gym. To get there, it’s just a quarter-mile walk from the parking lot to the beach. From there, you can either walk north toward the sea stacks and Hoh River (about 3 miles) or go south for the same distance to find Steamboat Creek (only accessible during low tide).
Like the Rialto Beach Trail, check the tides before visiting Ruby Beach. There are some stretches of the coast that are inaccessible during high tide. Plus, visiting during low tide means you’ll have a better chance of seeing sea stars and other critters.
7. Seven Lakes Basin Loop: 18.2 miles, loop
Last but certainly not least is the epic Seven Lakes Basin Loop (aka High Divide Trail). Contrary to its name, this trail actually takes you past at least eight lakes during the multiday journey. This is the longest and most rigorous trail on this list, with a total elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. Trekkers must obtain a camping permit before their journey, as most of them take 3-4 days to complete the loop.
The Seven Lakes Basin Loop is one of the best hikes in Olympic National Park to catch a glimpse of black bears, deer, mountain goats, several species of birds, and plenty more wildlife. You’ll also have a fabulous view of Mount Olympus and the Heart Lake Basin.
Most people start this trek at the Sol Duc Falls Trail, hiking 0.8 miles to the falls and then taking a turn onto Deer Lake Trail. Then, from Deer Lake, you’ll find the High Divide Trail, which you can follow for the remainder of the hike.
Map of Trailheads
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Olympic National Park is one of the best reasons to visit Washington, if not the reason. It has such a wide array of landscapes that it feels like visiting several different parks without ever having to leave.
If you’ve been to Olympic and your favorite hike isn’t listed here, let us know!