The drive from North Cascades to Olympic National Park was beautiful. We passed through lots of cute little towns, some beautiful mountains and lakes, and even got to ride a ferry! The ferry ride was a complete surprise. We were driving along minding our own business when all of a sudden there was no more road and we were in line to board the Port Townsend – Coupville Ferry.
I had never been on a ferry before so I wasn’t really sure what to do, but it’s pretty simple and was kind of fun actually. You get in line and drive your car directly on to the ferry. There are people directing you where to park so you really can’t screw it up. Once you park your car you can get out and go up to the top of the boat and enjoy the ride. It was really cool.
Of all the parks we were planning on visiting, Olympic was one of the ones I was most excited to see. It’s a huge park with three different distinct sections, and in all of the pictures I had seen it looked absolutely beautiful. It definitely didn’t disappoint.
We entered the park through the Port Angeles Entrance and headed to the Visitor Center for some maps and trail information. A very friendly park ranger told us some easy hikes with nice views and pointed us in the direction of Heart of the Hills Campground. The campground is nice. It does not have showers but there is running water and flushing toilets.
After setting up camp we headed to Hurricane Ridge to do a little hiking. There are three short trails here that intersect to make a loop. The entire thing is paved and has beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains.
Then we headed a little further down the road past the Visitor Center to do the Hurricane Hill trail. It’s a mile and a half and is paved, but is pretty much uphill the entire way so is a little bit strenuous. It leads to two really nice viewpoints. One is of the Olympic Mountain Range, the other overlooks Port Angeles. You can see the dead trees from where there was a forest fire a few years back and you can see Victoria Canada in the distance.
Going back down the trail was a lot easier than going up. We were even lucky enough to see a marmot, which are supposedly pretty rare. He was cute. Like a calico ground hog.
The next day we packed up at Heart of the Hills and made our way over to the coast! We made a pit stop at Crescent Lake to hike out to Marymere Falls. The lake is gorgeous. There are a number of boat launches along the edge of the lake and the water is so clear.
The hike out to Marymere Falls was amazing. It was like hiking through the jungle. The trees are covered in moss and everything is so green. The last part of the hike involves a set of stairs that leads up to the waterfall, but other than that it’s a relatively flat trail. The waterfall is incredible and I felt like I was standing in the rain forest while I was looking at it.
We finished up at Crescent Lake then continued our journey to the coast. We passed right through Forks on the way, so decided to be nerds and stop at the Twilight Museum. It was a real let down. The town is tiny and kind of run down and the museum is the same. There’s hardly anything inside of it. They have Bella’s truck out front, but that was the only kind of cool thing.
After our disappointing stop in Forks we headed to the Mora campground to get a site. The sites were awesome. Each one was in its own little nook of trees and it felt like being in the jungle.
After setting up camp it was finally time to go see the Pacific Ocean! We headed to Rialto Beach to hike out to the Hole in the Wall. Rialto Beach is not a sandy beach. It is a pebble beach and those pebbles are all different colors. It was really pretty. There is a lot of driftwood along the beach which make nice places to stop and sit and enjoy the ocean.
There are giant rocks that stick out of the ocean, some of them with trees growing out of them. It was the coolest thing. I immediately fell in love with the beaches of the northwest.
Hole in the wall is a mile and a half hike heading north from the Rialto Beach parking lot. There is literally a hole in a rock wall that sticks up out of the ocean. We got there when the tide was high, so were weren’t able to get a very good picture of the hole because the water was kind of covering it.
Next we headed to La Push to go to First and Second Beach. First Beach is located in the Indian Reservation and is very small. It had the same feel as Rialto Beach, with pebbles, driftwood, and jutting rocks. The Indian reservation was incredibly run down and it looked like most people were living in poverty. It was really sad.
Second Beach was by far my favorite beach. There is a parking area for it, but there is a half mile hike through the woods in order to get out to the beach. The hike is through the woods and goes down some stairs and it leads you right out to the beach. However, there is a ton of driftwood you have to climb over and maneuver around in order to get out to the water.
Second beach is a sand beach, which was nice to see. There are still large rocks that stick up out of the ocean, and there are tons of tide pools. It was so cool. I saw sea anemones and tiny crabs swimming in the pools. It made my day.
We headed back to camp around 6pm and were surprised to see that there were still quite a few empty campsites. Everywhere else we had ever been they were always full by mid afternoon. We began making dinner and over the next hour or so, the people started rolling in. I thought it was kind of strange to arrive at 7pm, but it was a Friday, so maybe it was people coming after work for the weekend? Washington is such an outdoorsy state. I love it.
Our third and final day at Olympic National Park started with a trip to the Hoh Rainforest. It was incredible. It really felt like we were walking around in a different world. Everything is so green and mossy because of all the rain it gets. There are ferns everywhere and giant trees.
It was rainy when we were walking around, which I felt was fitting since it is a rainforest. The trail took us to the Hoh River, where we encountered a lovely little yellow slug.
When we were done exploring the Hoh Rainforest we headed to Ruby Beach, our last stop in Olympic National Park. The sun had come out by this point, making it a lovely afternoon for a stroll on the beach. Ruby Beach is a mix of pebbles and sand. What I really like about this beach is a lot of the giant rock formations that stick up out of the ocean are close enough to the beach that you can actually walk right up to them. Kids were playing on them and people were climbing on them for photos. It was really cool to be able to get up close to them.
Leaving Olympic National Park made me very sad. I loved it there. Washington was quickly becoming my favorite state and I was sad to be leaving it. Oregon was next though, and I had heard that was a good one too.
Have you ever been to Olympic National Park? What were some of your favorite places to explore?