Day hikes in Olympic National Park

For two weeks in September we were very fortunate to be able to house sit a stunning house in Port Angeles, Washington.

The house was surrounded by forest with a creek at the bottom of the garden, and just down the road was the entrance to the Olympic National Park.

Dave and I have been exercising more and more since we’ve been on the road. We now try to go for at least a one hour walk each day.

Plus, we’ve recently embraced hiking.

View climbing Little Divide in the Olympic National Park

With views like this who wouldn’t want to go hiking?

It’d be stupid not to start hiking after visiting all the beautiful national parks around the US that we have.

So we researched and mapped out a few hikes in the Olympic National Park and surrounds and spent two weeks hiking a few times a week.

I’d like to share the best day hikes in Olympic National Park with you now, in case you’d like to do the same.

At the end of each hike description, I’ve summarised the difficulty, total time, distance, calories burned and what the hike is best for. I’ve also included a note on how to get to the hike.I weigh around 60kg if you’re curious about how many calories I burned in relation to my body size.

To figure out all these statistics I used the RunKeeper app on my iPhone.

I’m not sure how accurate it is in some of these remote places but it was the most accurate rundown I was bound to get.

1. Hurricane Ridge Trail

Located inside the Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge is possibly one of the most popular trails in the park and it’s easy to see why.

Hiking up this steep hill will give you sweeping views across the mountains and on a clear day you can see all the way across the water to Vancouver.

View from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

The beautiful view from the top of the Hurricane Ridge trail

If you visit in the summer months, you will be able to spot some Olympic marmots on the trail.

This is the only place in the world where you will find this animal and they’re fascinating to watch.

In the winter time Olympic marmots hibernate and to save energy their hearts only beat three times a minute.

They are very friendly and you’ll be able to get close to them. Just don’t touch them or feed them.

The hike itself is very steep going up the hill but the view is very rewarding once you reach the summit.

Difficulty: Strenuous but short

Total time: 1:30 hours

Distance: 5.8km

Calories burned: 383

Best for: Seeing the Olympic marmots (in the summertime)

How to get there: Drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge Road, past the Hurricane Ridge visitors centre and to the end of the tarmac. The Hurricane Ridge trailhead is located here.

An olympic marmot near Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

An Olympic marmot – so sweet!

2. Spruce Railroad Trail

This was the most scenic day hike we went on during our stay in Port Angeles.

We got to a section of Crescent Lake where there is a picturesque bridge crossing the water and all we could say was ‘wow’.

It was like we had stepped onto the set of a fantasy film it was that beautiful. The beginning of our hike took us through forest that borders the lake but the trees are too thick to really take in the view.

The forest itself is stunning however.

Forest view on the Spruce Railroad Trail in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

Inside the forest on the Spruce Railroad trail

It’s nearly autumn (or fall as the Americans like to call it) and all the leaves were falling off the trees in a deep shade of red.

When you get beyond the forest section of the hike, the trees disappear and you have sweeping views of the lake.

When I posted the below photo on Facebook my dad didn’t believe it was real and thought I must be stealing the photos off a website! The waters of the lake are crystal clear and it reminded us a lot of our hike around Plitvice Lakes in Croatia.

View over Lake Crescent on the Spruce Railroad Trail in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

The beautiful view overlooking Lake Crescent

The Spruce Railroad Trail is a very romantic hike and even though we only did a section of it, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you have dogs they are allowed on the trail as long as you take good care in cleaning up after them. You can also bike ride but it’s quite difficult mountain biking terrain – Dave and I wussed out!

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Total Time: 2 hours

Distance: 8.1km

Calories burned: 485

Best for: Scenic views of Crescent Lake

How to get there: We started our hike at the eastern end of the trailhead. To get there, turn right onto East Beach Road from US 101 highway and drive for 3.2 miles. After the Log Cabin Resort turnoff, turn left onto Boundary Creek Road and the trailhead begins in the parking lots at the end of this street. The drive from Port Angeles to here is beautiful.

3. Lover’s Lane, Canyon Creek to Deer Lake, across the Little Divide and Mink Lake Trail

To create an all-day hike, I combined four trails to walk in a loop around the Olympic Mountains near the Sol Duc hot springs.

Lover’s Lane, the first part of the hike, is through beautiful rainforest where you will cross wooden bridges over streams before reaching the waterfalls.

Scenery on Lovers Lane trail near Sol Duc Hot Springs in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

The stream we crossed during the Lover’s Lane section of the hike

After this you join onto the Canyon Creek Trail, which takes you up a gradual hill to reach the stunning deer lake.

We had lunch on a bench next to the lake and it was the most beautiful view.

There’s a toilet located nearby so do your business there before continuing – it’s the only toilet on the hike.

Next, we walked along the Little Divide which is a mountain ridgeline that gave us pretty views of the Olympic Mountains looking down through the trees.

Finally, we walked down a steep and rocky ridge leading to Mink Lake and the end of the hike.

The hike is wonderful but a hot springs soak at the end of it is even better and a much needed reward at the end of the day.

 By the time you arrive at the Sol Duc Hot Springs – the start and finish point of the hike – it will be dusk and you can take advantage of the ‘twilight hours’ entry price. For just $9.25 you can soak for two hours while the sun goes down.

Great for all the aches and pains you will feel after this long hike.

Deer Lake in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

This is where we had lunch – sitting on a bench overlooking Deer Lake

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Total Time: 8:20 hours

Distance: 32km approx.

Calories burned: 2,000 approx. (my iPhone ran out of battery)

Best for: A satisfying day hike with sweeping views

How to get there: On the US 101 highway from Port Angeles, pass the turnoff for Lake Crescent and turn left onto Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. Drive 12 miles down this street until you reach the hot springs.

4. Dungeness Spit

This hike is a change of scene from the mountain day hikes. Hitting the beach, you will walk along the ‘spit’ which is like a wide sand bank that is jutting out from the water.

With the mountains in the background, the view is spectacular and it’s the perfect place to take photos.

The driftwood that has ended up on the shore has created some interesting shapes making the hike different from your average beach walk.

Driftwood on the Dungeness Spit in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

Some of the driftwood that has washed up on the Dungeness Spit

The spit is also a protected bird sanctuary and you can spot a variety of birds on your hike, diving in and out of the water and just hanging out on the shoreline.

At the end of the spit is a lighthouse which you can climb to the top of for sweeping views of the mountains, spit and ocean.

Remember to take your wallet with you to leave a donation for the lighthouse’s upkeep.

Also, check the tides before you hike.

It’s rather difficult to hike at high tide because the spit shrinks in size and you have to clamber over rocks on the middle of the island.

Lighthouse on the Dungeness spit in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

The lighthouse located at the end of the Dungeness Spit

Difficulty: Moderate

Total Time: 4 hours

Distance: 17km

Calories burned: 1,215

Best for: Seaside beauty and bird watching

Birds taking flight in Olympic National Park Double-Barrelled Travel

Birds hanging out on the Dungeness Spit

5. Olympic Discovery Trail

This is a very easy hike that takes you along a paved path. We decided to ride our bikes and take in the view that way.

First we crossed a bridge that goes over a stream, before riding through forest that borders the highway. The trees block out most of the traffic noise, thankfully.

Next, you are riding alongside the coast and the views are spectacular.

Try to avoid going during ‘rush hour’ times because I think this trail is used for many commuters getting to and from work and it can get quite busy.

At the end of the trail I had a spectacular fall from my bike, grazing my knee in front of a bunch of construction workers!

So watch out for the pesky gravel around the old mill area because it is currently under construction and the trail cuts right through it.

Hiking the Olmpic Discovery Trail Double-Barrelled Travel

Eeire scenes on the Olympic Discovery Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Total Time: 1 hour

Distance: 12.5km by bike

Calories burned: 262

Best for: Dog walking and bike riding

How to get there:  We turned left down Straight View Drive off US 101 Highway going east out of Port Angeles. You can park your car here to start the ride over the bridge.

As always, we’d love to hear from you!

What’s your favourite hiking trail?

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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