Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse parks in the U.S.! All in the same park you can see temperate rain forests, beaches, and snow capped mountains! Be warned however; if you want to see all of Olympic’s diversity, you will drive A LOT. Olympic is a huge park and there are no roads that go all the way through the park, but it’s worth the extra driving!
Our trip to Olympic was another one of those long weekend trips where we just figured out what park made the most sense with the amount of time we had at the that particular time of year, and we just went for it! We were burning a few vacation days at the end of May so Olympic made sense for us even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to see all the park had to offer at that time of year (I really wanted to do the high divide loop but it was just too early in the season).
We began our trip with a flight to Seattle – Tacoma International Airport followed by a three hour drive straight to Heart O’ The Hills Campground. Of course it was dark by the time we arrived, so, as usual, we found our campsite and setup up our tent in the dark with our headlamps. There is one pro to doing this and that is the surprise of waking up to beautiful scenery you couldn’t see when you went to bed.
After enjoying a slow morning at our campsite we drove on to Hurricane Ridge to get in some mountain views and check out the visitor center. If it was later in the year we probably would have spent more time at Hurricane Ridge and the surrounding area, but all of our hiking was planned for the foothills to avoid snow covered passes. The mountains were still beautiful from afar though!
Our next stop was Sol Duc Valley where we would actually get some hiking in!
We parked our car at the Sol Duc Resort and started hiking to Sol Duc Falls.
Sol Duc Falls was pretty incredible and we even caught a rainbow while we were there! Since the hike to Sol Duc Falls itself is pretty short and easy (about 1 mile), we continued on to Deer Lake. We encountered quite a bit of snow on the trail, which was kind of scary because in some places the snow was several feet high, and when you stepped on it, you’d fall through to the bottom. Not to mention, when there was snow cover on the parts of the trail that lined the side of the mountain, it was a little tricky to navigate without fear of sliding down the mountain!
Despite the snow we made it to Deer Lake, which was incredibly beautiful and peaceful!
After relaxing and enjoying the scenery for a bit we headed back the way we came. The total hike ended up being about 7.6 miles round trip and was relatively easy.
When we got back to the car we headed to the coast! Our destination was Mora Campground which took us through the town of Forks, where the Twilight series was set. The town really capitalized on the whole vampire thing.
We actually got to pick our campsite and set up at Mora Campground before the sun went down which gave us time to make a fire and have a relaxing dinner.
The next morning we made the short drive to the coast where we parked at the trail head for Second Beach Trail. This trail takes you about .75 miles through lush foliage down to the beach. Although this trail was really short, it was a really awesome trail! So much so that I forgot to take any photos of it. At the end of the trail you emerge from the woods onto the beach which is such a dramatic change!
Obviously the Pacific coast beaches are not what comes to mind when most people think of the beach, but they are beautiful and tranquil nonetheless! I really enjoyed admiring all of the sea stacks and listening to the wind and the ocean.
Of course, we had to stay on the move, so we hiked back uphill to the car and made our way further around the park to the Hoh Rain Forest area. This was the part of the park I was looking forward to the most.
The drive to the Hoh Rain Forest was nice, but there was quite a bit of traffic when we got close the the park entrance. This was definitely one of the more crowded areas of the park. Regardless, it was worth navigating the crowds to see such interesting nature! We walked along the Hall of Mosses Trail which is a .8 mile loop that gives you a good glimpse into the temperate rain forest ecosystem.
The trees with their moss were so fascinating! They come in all different shapes and colors and are unlike anything you see in Texas!
And that was it; in three days we fit in the mountains, the beach, and the rain forest! It was a quick trip being on the move so much, but all of the places we visited were so peaceful and scenic that it didn’t feel hectic at all! I can’t wait to go back to Olympic in the summer and do the High Divide Loop someday!
Which ecosystem in Olympic National Park is most appealing to you?