We here at Outdoor Society have been wanting to take a trip up to Olympic National Park for awhile. So with the weather starting to warm up, we made sure to get up there before the masses. Now we plan on taking many trips to this Park in the future to fully document it, but this trip was just a day trip with some short hiking.
Our plan was to drive US 101 around the entire park while turning in and checking out a few short locations along the way. We woke up early from Portland, filled up the coffee mugs and hit the road. The trip from Portland to the southern part of Olympic National Park is just over 3 hours in driving time. We highly recommend taking a few days to do this but we were crunched for time and don’t mind the driving.
We made good time and entered the Olympic Peninsula around 9 am in the morning. The first stop for us was to explore some of the great waterways on the east of the park. Much of the area is not technically National Park or National Forest, but you will still find it stunningly beautiful. The entire drive up 101 on the east side of the peninsula, you will be following along the shore of Dabob Bay. There are plenty of areas to pull off the road and explore the shores. The day we were there, it was early morning, the morning mist was still in the air and these amazing Golden Eagles were flying around and hunting in the waters.
Also on the east side of the peninsula is Mt. Walker. This family friendly mountain has a forest road that takes you all the way to the top. So for those with little kids or disabilities, this is a great opportunity to drive up to the top and get some spectacular views! The clouds were heavy when we visited but you could still see enough to truly enjoy the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula.
After circling up to the top of the peninsula, we refueled in Port Angeles and headed into some of the more popular areas of the Olympic National Park. One of the trails we were determined to hit is the Sol Duc Falls. This trail is 5.3 miles round trip and should be on everyones list when visiting the park. This can be a very popular hike, so early morning or off days are recommended. We visited on a Saturday but the rain and low clouds kept much of the crowds out of the park.
The Sol Duc Trail is a well maintained and easy to hike trail. What we love must about this hike is not the falls at the end but the dense, old growth woods you get to hike through. You truly get to grasp the unique ecosystem that makes the Olympic National Park so special.
But of course, the Sol Duc Falls is a wonderful attraction as well.
After exploring the Sol Duc Falls and surrounding areas, we hopped back in the car and continued our journey circling the park. As we circled around the western side of the Olympic National Park we set our sites on Ruby Beach. Being on a Peninsula, Olympic National Park has so much to offer. Beautiful calm waters of the bay to the east, steep snow capped mountains, lakes formed from glaciers and a rocky coast line on the Pacific Ocean.
Ruby Beach gives you great views of the rocky formations on the Olympic NP’s coast line. We parked the car, grabbed our cameras and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring tide pools and rock formations along the coast.
Eventually we started to lose light and called it a day. We began our drive back south to Oregon. I am still in awe of the beauty of this park and can’t wait to spend several days exploring the inner sections of the park. Keep an eye our for future posts as we backpack through this stunning National Park.