Exploring The Olympic Peninsula

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  • Olympic Lodge Front Exterior Sunset View

The Olympic Peninsula is packed with things for you to see and explore. Many people use the Olympic Lodge as a home base while they enjoy four or five very full days in the area.

Day 1: Hurricane Ridge

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The must-see jewel of the Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge is an easy 17-mile drive that takes you up to 5,200 feet elevation. The spectacular mountains are beauty beyond words. The day lodge and many trails offer breath taking views of the glacier-clad peaks of the Olympic Mountains, panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the alpine meadows. Numerous trails that range from easy to very difficult make it possible for everyone to enjoy this trip. One can take a picnic lunch and spend the day at Hurricane Ridge and cap off the day by watching an awesome sunset.

Day 2: Lake Crescent & Sol Duc Area

Lake Crescent is a crystal clear 12-mile-long lake located 17 miles west of Port Angeles on Highway 101. The glacier-carved lake offers swimming, boating and fishing. There are numerous places to get away from it all and to soak in the splendor of nature. Marymere Falls is a mostly level one-mile hike from Storm King Ranger Station. This walk takes you thru a forest of moss-covered trees and large ferns. The Pyramid Mt. Trail reached from the North Shore Road offers an excellent view of Lake Crescent, Mt. Storm King and the blue-green slopes of Aurora Ridge. One can also hike along the north side of the lake on the Spruce Railroad Trail (named after the railroad that was there during WWI). The rail was used to haul out spruce to make airplanes for use in the war. There are numerous places around the lake to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch. Dining is available at Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort.

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Driving west on Highway 101 takes you to the Sol Duc Valley road just west of Lake Crescent. The approximately 12-mile drive winds thru the valley. Two areas of interest along the way are the Salmon Cascades and Ancient Forest Trail. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers dining, a small store & gift shop and three mineral pools plus a fresh-water pool. Soaking in the hot mineral pools is a great way to relax those sore muscles after hiking all day.

The spectacular Sol Duc Falls are a must see! The trail head is located a short drive past the resort and camp grounds. Several trails take off from the Sol Duc Falls Trail taking you up into the Seven Lakes Basin.

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Day 3: Hoh Rain Forest and Wild Coastal Beaches

The Hoh Rain Forest is a not-to-be-missed attraction on the Olympic Peninsula. Moist ocean air from the Pacific brings over 150" (record of 211") of annual rainfall to this area. The giant Sitka spruce and "colonnades" (row of trees that grew atop downed trees called "nurse logs") are amazing sites. The park was established in 1938 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited and was duly impressed with the region and it's wildlife. Three loop trails near the Hoh Visitor Center are easy to stroll and give a great sampling of the area: The Hall of Mosses Trail is 3/4 mile and shows the moss-draped maples, magically green in the spring, spectacular with color in the fall and a treat any time of year. The 1 1/4-mile Spruce Trail follows the Hoh River along red alder and maple "bottom", and shows the landscape carved by this glacier-fed river and includes a paved 1/4-mile path suitable for a wheelchair or stroller. The year-round Visitor Center is the starting point for many longer and more challenging hi kes up to the alpine meadows and glaciers. The Hoh Rain Forest is located 90 miles west of Olympic Lodge taking Highway 101 thru the town of Forks.

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Scenic shores with easy access are found in the Kalaloch (pronounced kalay-lock) area, just 15 south of the Rain Forest Road. Beach Trail 4 is a pebble beach with a dramatic surf (beware of the strong undertow), tidal pools and is a popular place to dip for smelt. Picturesque Ruby Beach, with a meandering creek and dramatic sea stacks, is named for the garnet-colored sand. Miners panned for gold here earlier in this century.

Rialto Beach, north of the Quillayute River, is one of the few drive-to beaches in the area and a beautiful spot to enjoy the surf and watch shorebirds, eagles and seals. On the south side of the river at La Push, First Beach is a mile-long crescent known for surfing-size waves and great whale watching. Kayakers, surfers and seals add to the view. Second Beach, just east of La Push, is popular with photographers and is reached by way of a .6-mile forested trail that leads to a 2-mile long sandy stretch of beach with sea stacks and tidal pools - watch for the eagle nests above the tree line. Third beach, a mile east of Second beach, is a mostly-level 1.5 mile trail through natural second-growth forest, a result of winds up to 170 mph in January 1921. The "21 Blow" leveled nearly 8 billion board feet of timber, enough to construct 600,000 3-bedroom homes. In the fall, mushrooms flourish under the forest canopy, be sure to take along a guide book if you intend to harvest mushrooms!

Day 4: Neah Bay, Cape Flattery, Makah Museum, Lake Ozette

Head to the most Northwestern tip of the lower 48, visiting Cape Flattery on the Makah Reservation located 75 miles NW of Port Angeles on Hwy 112. Cape Flattery is located approx 7 miles from Neah Bay. The newly constructed wooden walkway takes you to some of the most gorgeous, rugged and wild scenery on the Pacific Coast.

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Be sure to take time to explore the internationally-known Makah Museum. The museum is open every day during the summer months and closed Mondays and Tuesdays from Sept. 16 through May 31. Hours are 10AM-5PM. The Makah Museum is the nation's sole repository for archeological discoveries at the Makah Coastal village of Ozette. The centuries-old village was located 15 miles south of present-day Neah Bay. Ozette served the Makah people as a year-round home well into the 20th century.

In 1970 tidal erosion exposed a group of 500-year-old Ozette homes that have been perfectly preserved in an ancient mud slide. The thousands of artifacts subsequently discovered have helped recreate Makahs' rich and exciting history as whalers, fishermen, hunters, gatherers, crafts people, basket weavers and warriors. Lake Ozette is located off of Hwy 112 on the Hoko-Ozette Road – follow the road 21 miles to the Ozette Ranger Station.

Three miles of planked trail lead to Sand Point, one of the most beautiful and primitive beaches on the coast. Continuing north along the beach you will find dozens of Indian petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks; ask for the interpretive handout at the ranger station. The northern point of this 9-mile triangular trail is Cape Alava, with a rocky shore and reefs to explore at low tide. Cape Alava is also the site of an ancient Makah village. The site is now closed and marked with a small sign. Be sure to check a tide table and carry the 10 essentials - and lots of film as seals, deer, eagles and perhaps osprey, otters and whales may be there, rain or shine! Hike north to Cape Alava along the beach to keep the ocean breeze at your back – and avoid wearing vibram- soled shoes as the cedar plank walkway can be slick!

Olympic National Park

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Park fee: A pass is required to enter the Olympic National Park. The fee is $15.00 per car load and is good for 7 days. It can be attained at any of the Park entrances. No pass is required during the winter months for the Elwha Valley or the Sol Duc Valley. Call the Olympic National Park Visitors Center in Port Angeles at 360-452-2713.

Activities that take less then a full day

  1. Salt creek County Park is located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca west of Port Angeles and offers fascinating tidal pools, (ask your hosts regarding tide tables).
  2. The Dungeness Spit and Wildlife Refuge offers great beach hiking and wildlife.
  3. The Olympic Game Farm in Sequim is great for children of all ages.
  4. Ediz Hook in Port Angeles provides great views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Ediz Hook is part of the 5.5 miles of Waterfront Trail; perfect for jogging, walking, biking, or rollerblading.
  5. The Elwha Valley west of Port Angeles is a beautiful drive along the rushing Elwha River. Madison Falls is an easy hike. Further up the valley is the trail head to the Olympic Hot Springs, but that area is currently closed due to the Elwha Dam Restoration project.
  6. Port Townsend, known as "Washington's Victorian Seaport" is located 49 miles east of the Olympic Lodge. Victorian homes and commercial buildings erected during the late 1800s are still the cities trademark, along with 434-acre Fort Worden State Park.
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Tours

All Points Charters and Tours, Port Angeles
Offering Hurricane Ridge/Lake Crescent, Hoh Rain Forest/Rialto Beach, Makah Culture Center/Cape Flattery, Sol Duc Falls/Lake Crescent Nature Hikes and the North Olympic Winery Tour. Custom tours available. Call (360)565-1139 or visit www.goallpoints.com

PS Express Cruises, Port Townsend
Come aboard the PS Express! Port Townsend to Friday Harbor Whale-Watching Cruise/ Protection Island Cruises (a bird watcher's delight!) Charters available for weddings, business retreats, family reunions or evening dinner cruises. Call (360) 385-5288 or visit www.pugetsoundexpress.com

The Water Limousine, Sequim
A delightful private cruise for up to six people (four-person minimum). The itinerary is up to you! Call (800) 860-9341 or visit www.thewaterlimousine.com