National Parkin’ #2: Olympic

After the Mariners game on Sunday, the All-Star break began.  To pass the time, I’m spending six days in various national parks on my way to Oakland.  First up: 3 days in Olympic National Park

Day 1: Hurricane Ridge and Crescent Lake

I arrived at the Hurricane Ridge visitor center shortly after sunrise on Monday morning.  Perfect timing really – actually being there for sunrise wasn’t super important as long as I got in plenty of time during the “magic hour.”  I hiked up the short Hurricane Ridge Trail to get some panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and then went over to the visitor center to see the moon setting, with the early morning sun glowing on the mountains.


After a short hour or so, I made my way back down the mountain side and headed towards Fairholme campground on Lake Crescent. Originally, I was planning to camp near Hurricane Ridge, but it was quickly clear that there wasn’t a ton to do there.  Instead, I’d hike around Lake Crescent for the day and come back to the Ridge for sunset.

Once camp was set, I made my way towards Marymere Falls and then decided to hike Mount Storm King.  Mount. Storm. King.  It was a 2.2-mile one-way hike that rose 2000′ in elevation.  Essentially, it was 2.2 miles of switchback stairs.  My phone says I climbed 276 flights of stairs on that day.  It was kinda tough.  But the views at the top were great.


After that hike I pretty much had filled my quota for hiking for the day and maybe trip.  I jumped into Lake Crescent for a shower-type experience and headed back to the Ridge for sunset.  For sunset, I hiked Hurricane Hill. While it wasn’t 2000′ in elevation gain, it was a 1.7-mile one-way hike that gained 600′.  Given the earlier hike, I was pretty wiped.  Again, though, worth it.



Day 2: The Pacific Coast

Camping at Fairholme made the drive to the coast much easier.  On the way, though, I took the time to drive down to the Sol Duc area.  I didn’t quite know much about what was down there, but figured it would be irresponsible to drive past.  I was rewarded with the Sol Duc Falls.

After taking in the falls, I made the drive over to the coast and registered a site at the Mora campground.  Mora is just a couple minutes from Rialto Beach, where I made my first stop.  I spent the rest of the morning and into early afternoon relaxing on Rialto Beach, hiking down to the southern sea stacks that connect to La Push Beach 1 and exploring the enormous driftwood.  I found a spot I’d later come back to for sunset.


From there, it was off to La Push.  I hiked down to Beach #2 to start.  It is a short 0.7-mile one-way hike and I saw a few people hiking down their camping gear to stay on the beach for the night.  The beach was your more prototypical sandy beach, except the two enormous sea stacks that were just off the coast.

La Push Beach #3 didn’t quite have the wow-factor of #2, but the 1.5-mile one-way hike was more interesting and certainly thinned the crowd.  Significantly fewer people were down on #3, mostly people who were camping the night.

Finally, it was back to Rialto Beach for sunset.  The original spot I had picked out didn’t quite workout for sunset pictures, but I still got some good shots and just got to take in the sun setting behind the sea stacks.

Day 3: Hoh Rainforest

Next stop was the rainforest.  Another long-ish drive from Mora campground to Hoh campground.  Have you noticed Olympic is huge?  To my surprise, Hoh was the busiest of the three campgrounds I stayed at.  Part of that may have been that one of the Hoh Campground loops was closed, so more people were crammed into a smaller number of campsites.  However, even the visitor center and the hiking areas seemed busier than I would have expected.


I hiked up the Hoh River Trail, originally intended to go to 5-mile island before turning back.  However, hitting a waterfall about 3 miles in was good enough for me and I turned back.


I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Hall of Moses and was ready to call it a day before a couple people asked if I saw the heard of elk that had just crossed the Hoh River Trail.  So, I hiked back up the trail a short distance and saw no less than a dozen elk scurrying around the trail.

Being in the rainforest, there wasn’t really a great spot for sunset photography, so I took advantage of that by starting up the campfire early, enjoying dinner, getting a little reading in, and turning in early so I could be good to go for the driving day between Olympic and Crater Lake.


2 thoughts on “National Parkin’ #2: Olympic

  1. Tom, where are the elk pictures?


    1. I’m pretty sure none really came out. The lighting was really bad and they were largely hiding behind some trees just off the trail.


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