Hiking Guides / National Parks / Washington State

The 13 Best Hikes in Olympic National Park (Complete Guide)

Want to hike to a basin full of some of the most gorgeous alpine lakes in the region? What about a beach hike out to a point where you can search for wildlife in tide pools and admire the towering sea stacks that seem to be exploding out of the ocean? There aren’t very many places in the world where you can do both. And that’s the thing about Olympic National Park – it has three unique and distinct ecosystems (probably more, but that’s how we think about it) within its boundaries. You’ve got the higher elevation parts of the park with alpine landscapes, the rugged Pacific Coast, and some of the largest temperate rainforests in the world. All in one place!

In this guide to the best hikes in Olympic National Park, we’ll take you through the best hiking trails to explore the different worlds that live within the park, whether you want an easy waterfall hike or a grueling thigh-burner that will leave you limping for a week (but with a worthy payout at the top). 

Planning a Trip to Olympic National Park? We’ve got a few other guides to help you plan an amazing trip. First, make sure to read our Olympic National Park itinerary, which will help you figure out the best things to do and see, and more importantly, how to organize your time. We’ve also got a guide to the best places to stay in Olympic National Park to help you plan an unforgettable adventure out on the Olympic Peninsula.

Wondering what to wear on a hike? Check out our guide to what to wear hiking for our exact hiking wardrobe, and recommendations on what to wear in each season.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one and purchase something, we make a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. It goes without saying that we would never recommend something we wouldn’t use or do ourselves.

A Quick Geography Overview

Before we jump into the best hikes in Olympic National Park, let’s take a second to zoom out and talk about the different regions of the park. 

For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to divide the park into three zones: Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, the Pacific Coast.

  • Hurricane Ridge is at a higher elevation than other parts of the park, and the landscapes are very different than, say, the coastal parts of the park. From here, you’ll have views over the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the north, and the Olympic Range is looming over you to the south. 

  • Lake Crescent is just west of Port Angeles, below Hurricane Ridge. Here, you’ve got Lake Crescent, which has a few worthwhile hikes to do, and the Sol Duc Valley, where you’ll find Sol Duc Falls and the High Divide, a rugged 19 mile hiking trail that climbs up to a ridgeline with spectacular views of the Seven Lakes Basin below, and the Olympic Range in the distance. We did the High Divide as a two night backpacking trip, and it was absolutely enchanting. 

  • The Pacific Coast is a whole other world. It’s at sea level, and most of the hikes along the coast are as flat as it gets, making them very accessible to most people. But have you ever tried hiking in wet sand? It might actually be harder than climbing on a well-maintained trail. In any case, the hikes on the coast are incredible, and most are family-friendly and involve wildlife (birds or tidepools), plenty of driftwood, and towering sea stacks galore. 

We usually slice the park up a little differently, but for the purposes of this guide to great Olympic National Park hikes, we think that’s the easiest way to think about it. 

Interested in exploring the national parks on the West Coast? Don’t miss our complete guide to all 13 West Coast National Parks where you’ll find an overview of things to do, places to stay, and links to our more detailed guides on each park.

The Best Hikes in Olympic National Park: 13 Amazing Day Hikes

It’s worth noting here that we won’t be including some worthwhile stops, like the Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail in the Hoh Rainforest, or the loop in the Quinault Rainforest. Mostly because they aren’t really hikes, they’re more like leisurely walks in the rainforest.

Are they worthwhile? Absolutely. In our Olympic National Park itinerary, we have you stopping at all three of those spots. We just don’t really think they belong on a list of the best hikes in the park.  

With that out of the way, here are our favorite hikes in Olympic National Park, organized by region. 

Hiking Near Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is home to some of the best alpine landscapes in Olympic National Park. Here, you’ll find hikes that start more than a mile above sea level and ascend 2,000+ feet to reach some of the highest accessible points in the park. 

Hurricane Hill

  • Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 700 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

This is the most popular trail in the Hurricane Ridge area, so be prepared for crowds. That being said, the panoramic views from the top are worth the effort. From the endpoint of the hike, you’ll be able to see Victoria, BC and the rest of Vancouver Island, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mt. Baker, and the Olympic Range. At least on a clear day. 

From the trailhead, it’s a steady climb along a wide, paved trail basically all the way up to the viewpoint. We were the first ones on the trail and saw a bear in the parking lot, and a couple of grouse and a big male deer along the way. 

If you only have time to do one hike at Hurricane Ridge, this should probably be it. 

Heather Park / Lake Angeles Loop

  • Length: 12 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trailhead Location

This hike is one of the hardest day hikes in the park, gaining 4,000 feet of elevation over the course of the six mile (one-way) journey to Lake Angeles. But it also might be the best day hike in Olympic National Park, so the juice is worth the squeeze.


The trailhead is near Heart ‘o the Hills Campground, along Hurricane Ridge Road. It’s closer to Port Angeles than it is to Hurricane Ridge. The parking lot is small, but you can also park on the road if it’s full. 

Pro-tip: this hike actually starts outside the park, so you don’t need a National Parks Pass or need to pay the entrance fee to do this hike (though you will need to if you head up to Hurricane Ridge).

Do the hike counter-clockwise, starting with the Heather Park trail. We got this recommendation from a guidebook, which pointed out that it’s always better to stop at the lake on the descent rather than right in the middle of a brutal climb. 

The highlight of this hike is about halfway through, after a steep climb to the junction with the Switchback Trail, where you can see for miles in every direction on a clear day. Unfortunately, you’ve still got about a mile of climbing to do before you actually get to the high point of the hike, but then it’s all downhill from there, including a stop to take a dip in the lake!

You’ll pass multiple old and abandoned shelters on this hike, which are kind of cool to see.

There are some parts of this hike that require some scrambling, but if you’re thinking about doing a hike with 4,000 feet of elevation gain, you’re probably an experienced hiker that’s done a scramble or two in your hiking career, right?

Klahhane Ridge

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate / Difficult
  • Trailhead Location

This hike, which takes you along a portion of one of the most photogenic parts of Olympic National Park, is the easiest way to access that ridge. It’s the same ridge that you’ll hike along on the Heather Park – Lake Angeles loop above, but with significantly less effort. That’s because you’ll park along Hurricane Ridge road and connect to the ridge with the Switchback Trail. Although that’s not to say the Switchback Trail isn’t a butt-kicker, because it climbs 1,500 feet in just under a mile and a half. 

It starts from the Switchback trailhead, which is a small parking lot with limited overflow parking. From there, you climb 1,500 feet in a mile and a half to get up to Klahhane Ridge, which has spectacular views all around. This junction is where you’ll meet up with the Heather Park – Lake Angeles loop on the Lake Angeles side, where it continues northeast along the ridge. 

You can go as far as you’d like along this ridge – even down to Lake Angeles if you’re up for taking a dip in a crystal clear alpine lake, but you have to drop down to 1,700 feet to the lake…which means you have to climb back up on the way back. Not for the faint of heart, to say the least. The best turnaround point is probably going to be where the trail starts to drop, which makes this a nice 5 mile hike. 

You could also do this from the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center all the way to Lake Angeles, which is about 12.5 miles and 4,500 feet of elevation gain when it’s all said and done. That’s a tough hike, and we included the shorter version because it’s more accessible for more hikers, and is a better use of time if you’ve only got a few days. 

Obstruction Point to Roaring Winds Camp

We got scared off by the narrow gravel road to get to the trailhead here – Homer the Honda Odyssey wasn’t so confident he could make it – but if you have a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle and you’re looking for an awesome alpine hike in the park, this is it. 

This hike is exposed, following a ridge for part of the route, so if it’s cold, windy, rainy, or snowy, prepare to experience the full force of the elements for a big part of this hike. There’s also a point or two where you’re likely to encounter a snow field, and several points where it’s more of a scramble than a hike on a well-marked trail. 

But for the most part, it’s your run-of-the-mill moderate alpine hike, with great views of the valley below and the Olympic Mountains throughout. 

If you want to backpack, the hike out to Deer Park, which is about 7.5 miles one-way from the Obstruction Point Trailhead, would be worth looking at. You’d probably camp for two nights at Roaring Winds, and do the portion of the trail from there to Deer Park and back as a day hike. Or, if you have two cars, do it as a thru-hike, parking a car at each trailhead. 

  • Length: 6.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate / Difficult
  • Trailhead Location

Moose Lake 

The hike to Moose Lake also leaves from the trailhead at the end of Obstruction Point Road, and is well worth the effort to get to the trailhead on the narrow gravel road. 

Unlike most hikes in the mountains, this out-and-back hike has you descending into the valley on the way out to Moose Lake, and climbing on the way back to the trailhead. You’ll start with a short descent into a meadow that is full of both wildflowers (in the summer anyway) and marmots. 

It’s all downhill from there – you’ll climb slightly at the end of the meadow, and then drop 1,500 feet or so over the course of 1.8 miles to reach Moose Lake. Save your energy for the long journey back up the steep switchbacks to get back to your car. 

Expect lots and lots of mosquitoes in the summer at the lake. 

  • Length: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate / Difficult
  • Trailhead Location

The Best Hikes Near Lake Crescent & the Sol Duc Valley

These hikes are near Lake Crescent or in the nearby Sol Duc Valley. 

Mt. Storm King

  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trailhead Location

This is a short but intense hike that starts from the Storm King Ranger Station on the south side of Lake Crescent. There are no real interesting notes about the first part of the trail – you’ll walk under the highway on the path, follow it to a junction with the Marymere Falls trail, and then immediately begin climbing switchbacks through the forest with the occasional break in the trees giving you a nice view of the lake below. 

Eventually, you’ll get to the adrenaline-inducing part of the hike, where it turns into a little bit of a scramble. It’s so steep near the end that you’ll need to use the permanent ropes that are installed to pull yourself up.

If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the trail for you. If you’re looking for a thighmaster workout in the woods with a great view over Lake Crescent from the top, then this might be the trail you’re looking for. 

On the way down, we’d definitely recommend heading out to Marymere Falls, since you’ve already done a portion of the trail to get to the trail for Mount Storm King.

Marymere Falls

  • Length: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 300 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

This hike also leaves from the Storm King Ranger Station, and is a nice and easy stroll out to Marymere Falls, a 90 foot high waterfall. The walk there includes dense forest, babbling brooks, and of course, the falls. It gains minimal elevation, making it a perfect family-friendly hike in Olympic National Park. There’s only one climb, and it’s right before you reach the falls, where you gain about 150 feet of elevation to reach the base of the falls. 

This is a good hike to add on if you do Mount Storm King. From the junction with the Mount Storm King trail, it’s only 0.4 miles out to the falls. Tack it onto your hike on the way down. 

Sol Duc Falls

  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Flat
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

We did this trail as part of the High Divide (the falls are basically where the lollipop trail…lollipops?) and were pleasantly surprised with Sol Duc Falls. You’ll follow a flat path through the forest before arriving at a bridge crossing the Sol Duc River, which is also the viewpoint for the falls. It’s family-friendly, well marked and maintained, and worth doing for hikers of all levels. 

High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin

  • Length: 19 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trailhead Location

We did the High Divide as a three day, two night backpacking trip in late August, and it was fantastic. You could also do it as a day hike, but it’s a long one, with plenty of elevation gain to get up to the Seven Lakes Basin and the gorgeous High Divide, which is a ridge with spectacular views to the north and south of alpine lakes, green rolling hills, and the Olympic Range. 

To do it as a day hike, you’ll need to get an early start – 19 miles in one day is no joke. We did the hike clockwise, which is a more gradual ascent on the way up to the High Divide, and that’s what we’d recommend. Going that direction, you do the ascent over roughly ten miles, rather than nine in the other direction. It’s a minimal difference, but it’s not nothing. 

You’ll start from the Sol Duc Falls Trailhead, and meander through the dense forest for a bit before the climb really starts. In the middle of the climb you’ll reach Sol Duc Park, which has a vault toilet if you or someone in your group needs to use the facilities. Then, continue the climb, which really starts to get intense around here. 

You’ll first reach Heart Lake, which is, you guessed it, shaped like a heart, and is a good spot to grab a snack and some water before you make the ascent up to the ridge, which is a thigh-burner. 

Once you’re on the ridge, it’s a beautiful hike, with the Seven Lakes Basin and its sapphire blue alpine lakes to your right, and Mount Olympus off to your left 

You should definitely make the detour down to Lunch Lake, which is gorgeous and should be your lunch spot. It’s a steep climb back up to the trail, but we think it’s worth it to get a taste of the Seven Lakes Basin. 

From there, it’s all downhill back to the parking lot. 

One important note: there are no water sources up on the High Divide, so make sure you stop to purify plenty before you leave Heart Lake. You can also get water at Lunch Lake if you make that detour. 

Hikes on the Pacific Coast

The hikes below are organized from north to south, starting with Cape Flattery and working down to Second Beach in La Push. 

Hole in the Wall – Rialto Beach

  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 0 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

This was our favorite hike in Olympic National Park, and we definitely recommend doing it around sunset if it’s not super cloudy. The hike starts from the parking lot for Rialto Beach, and from there you basically walk two and a half miles up the beach until you reach Hole in the Wall. Which, as you might have guessed, is a hole in a wall formed after thousands of years of erosion from the waves. 

There’s no elevation gain to speak of, but walking in the sand is a pain. We’d recommend hiking boots to make it slightly less painful (waterproof + no sand in shoes). These are the beginner hiking boots we recommend – Alysha has them and loves them, and they’re a solid, affordable pair of boots (men’s version here). 

Make sure to check the tide chart before you go – this hike is best done at low tide if you want to be able to walk through the hole in the wall (plus, the tide pools around there are fun too!). 

Shi Shi Beach & Point of Arches

  • Length: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

This trail is spectacular, and the full length is worth the trek because it takes you out to Point of Arches, which is one of the best examples of the rugged and wild Pacific Coast that makes Olympic National Park special. 

It’s an eight mile hike, which sounds hard, but there’s very minimal elevation gain – you essentially only drop 200 feet in one go to get down to the beach, and then climb that same amount on the way back. The rest is at sea level, along sandy Shi Shi beach. 

This also makes a good backpacking trail if you want to experience camping on the beach. It’s a four mile hike in, and spending the night on the beach means you’ll get to enjoy sunset on the coast and camp on a sandy ocean beach – something you can’t do in too many places in the United States. 

Make sure to spend some time at the tide pools near Point of Arches, and look up! Bald eagles love Shi Shi and the other coastal beaches in Olympic National Park. You’ll find them in the treetops, just watching life go by (and patiently waiting for the

The trailhead is on the Makah Tribe’s land, so you’ll need to purchase a $10 parking permit to park at the trailhead near the fish hatchery. You can find more information here

Cape Alava Loop – Ozette Triangle

There are a couple of ways to do this hike, and we wholeheartedly recommend taking the long way, which involves a long (but flat) hike along boardwalks and beaches, making a big triangle that starts and ends at the Ozette Ranger Station. 

You could do a shorter version, which is just an out-and-back from the ranger station to the beach, but we think it’s worth taking in the spectacular Pacific Beach. There’s not many places where you can hike three miles on a rugged (and gorgeous) sandy ocean beach. 

On both trails from the trailhead to the beach, you’ll walk along a well-marked boardwalk through the dense forest, with occasional breaks in the trees giving you a glimpse of the surrounding landscape. Once you’re on the beach, there’s really no marked trail to speak of, but there’s also no need for one. 

After three miles on the beach, you’ll reach the turn that takes you back inland, and it’s another three miles from there to the trailhead. 

We highly, highly recommend hiking boots for the beach portion of the hike. Walking on the beach in tennis shoes is no fun at all. Believe us. While there’s only a tiny amount of elevation change on the trail, the sand makes those three miles more difficult than they should be. 

Second Beach

There are three beaches aside from Rialto in La Push, helpfully named First, Second, and Third Beaches. Of the three, Second Beach is by far the best beach thanks to the sea stacks just off the shore, and it’s a short stroll through the woods to get there. 

Like most of the coastal hikes here, there’s very little elevation change to speak of, since you’re at, you know, sea level. The forest is pretty dense, and it’s just over two thirds of a mile to the beach itself. 

You can continue walking 1.5 miles south down the beach from there to investigate the driftwood and get different views of the sea stacks and needles offshore before you return the way you came. At the 1.5 mile mark, the beach ends thanks to the headland jutting out into the ocean, and you’ll have to turn around and make your way back. 

For the purposes of the numbers below, we’re assuming you hike from the trailhead to the beach, and then head south for a half mile before returning back to your car. The maximum length of this hike would be just under 4.5 miles, and that’s if you go all the way out to the end of the beach and back.

When to Go Hiking in Olympic National Park

In general, the rules about hiking in the Pacific Northwest largely apply to Olympic National Park. However, because of the lower elevation of most of the park, more of the hiking trails in Olympic National Park are accessible year round than in other Washington national parks and main hiking areas.

Summer is the best time to go hiking in the park. It’s the warmest season with the lowest precipitation (go figure). 

Spring and fall are also pleasant times to go hiking. You’ll need to be prepared for more precipitation (like, a lot more) and plenty of mud, but most of the coastal hikes and hikes around Hurricane Ridge are accessible. Some might have snow in early spring and late fall, but it depends on the year. Just after Labor Day is a very pleasant time to visit the park, when you’ll have the great summer weather without the crowds that descend on the park in the summertime. 

Winter is great to beat the crowds, and most trails are actually still accessible. Higher elevation trails, like the ones around Hurricane Ridge, are probably going to be snow-covered, but the coastal hikes are still available to committed hikers. I say “committed hikers” because it’s very likely going to be raining, windy, and cold. 


MORE TO EXPLORE IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

If you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve got you covered with all sorts of super detailed travel guides to our favorite places in Washington and Oregon.

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