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by Tim V
March 7, 2002
From journal Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula
Port Angeles, Washington
November 5, 2002
LAKE CRESCENT AND SOL DUC
Lake Crescent – Glacier-carved Lake Crescent is a huge emerald lake at 9 miles long and 1 mile wide, and incredibly deep. Get information at Storm King Ranger Station, which is also the trailhead for a short hike to Marymere Falls. You can canoe or kayak on the lake, with rentals available in Port Angeles or at Fairholm store on the west side of the lake. You can relax at East Beach, or try the Spruce Railroad Trail, the only trail at Olympic National Park that allows bicycles. Lake Crescent is accessible from Port Angeles, but there are two lodges on the lake: Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort.
Sol Duc – The scenic drive up the Sol Duc River ends at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort (see my separate journal entry), and at a trailhead. The best short hike from the trailhead is to Sol Duc Falls. You will get an incredible reward for a 1.6 mile round trip hike. This trailhead is also a great jumping off point for long hikes and backpacking into the high country. The 20+ mile Seven Lakes Basin Loop is a backpack filled with flowery meadows, sub-alpine lakes, and scenic ridges. But permits are limited in this area, so contact the Wilderness Information Center at the park for reservations as soon as possible. Sol Duc is a bit of a drive, but is accessible from Port Angeles.
From journal Going Local in Port Angeles, The Olympic Peninsula
RAINFOREST VALLEYS – There are three main rainforest valleys at Olympic National Park. Each gets more than 140 inches of rain per year--that is more than 12 feet! You will be amazed at the ability of vegetation and moss to grow on every surface of everything, not an inch left uncovered. Keep your eyes peeled for elk in these valleys as well. These areas are more readily accessible from a "base camp" of Forks or Kalaloch rather than Port Angeles (although possible with long day trips from PA).
Hoh – This is the most popular rainforest valley. The Hoh Road follows the Hoh River. Before entering the park boundary, you will find numerous state and private campgrounds, a variety of lodging, food and coffee, gift shops, and a great company called Peak 6 that has sporting goods and guided kayaking. Once inside the park, there is another campground, a large Visitor Center with guided ranger hikes and talks, and numerouse trails. You should not visit the Hoh without taking at least a short hike on the Hall of Mosses Nature Trail (0.7 mile loop) or the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 mile loop). The trail that follows the Hoh River is also the climber access to Mount Olympus.
Queets – A 30-minute drive through the rainforest takes you from Highway 101 to the end of the Queets road and the heart of this rainforest valley. At the end there is a Ranger Station, which you will likely find unstaffted most of the time. There is a small secluded campground on the Queets River. The 3-mile Sams Loop Trail is a nice way to see the rainforest without the crowds. The trail up Queets River is only accessible after fording the Queets River, which is best done later in the summer when the water level is safer. There are few visitors to this area of the park, so you will likely find it quiet and serene.
Quinault – There is a great loop drive around lake, but the Quinault area is primarily a backpacking access point. Food and lodging are available in the adjacent town of Amanda Park, and there are private lodges on the lake. This area is one of the lesser visited areas of the park--a great place to find solitude.
The park is essentially divided into 13 separate areas, each accessible separately from spur roads and from points along Highway 101 which encircles Olympic National Park. The entrance fee for the park is $10 per private vehicle, and the pass is good in all of the areas for seven days. There are 16 campgrounds, and over 600 miles of trails. Visitor centers and Ranger Stations are scattered around for information and Ranger programs.
It is very difficult to describe in detail all of the 13 separate areas, so please refer to Olympic National Park, or call 360/565-3130 for more information. Call 360/565-3100 for backpacking information. I will try to give brief descriptions with highlights of the areas by grouping them geographically to make it easier to organize your trip. But first! Please read some very important information at Leave No Trace.
NORTH – These are the areas most easily accessible from Port Angeles.
Hurricane Ridge – This is the highest area you can drive to in the park and takes about an hour. The views into the interior of the Olympic Mountains give you a good sense as to how truly huge this wilderness is. After a stop at the Visitor Center and snack shop, try a sub-alpine hike up Hurricane Hill, about 3 miles round trip. Adventurous drivers can drive from Hurricane Ridge to the end of Obstruction Point Road, where you will find a trailhead. The Grand Ridge trail goes 7.6 miles from Obstruction Point to Deer Park, and is great to do if you have someone to pick you up at Deer Park, or can arrange to swap car keys with fellow hikers coming from the Deer Park side.
Deer Park – There is a really nice small campground at the top of this long, steep, curvy dirt road. The scenic view from Blue Mountain, and its short nature trail, is worth seeing.
Elwha – This lush river valley is the site of the controversial Elwha dam removals. The Elwha River is a great one to raft down (see my separate journal entry), and is an access point for hiking and backpacking. This is also where the 3 mile hike to Olympic Hot Springs starts.
May 6, 2002
From journal A week on the Olympic Peninsula
February 8, 2002
The beaches that we visited are Klaloch and Ruby Beach. Klaloch was an area that we had heard about from friends. While we weren’t as impressed with it as our friends, we did enjoy a long walk on the beach – I even built a sand castle decorated with empty crab shells! There was a really interesting tree growing on the embankment at the back of the beach – part of the bank had washed away, so the tree was hanging on to the sides with roots hanging down into the cave below. The campground was nice, but the sites we very close together. The campground is very popular, so I recommend an early arrival. We did not get to the nearby Visitor Center, but I imagine it is worth a visit. I have always been impressed by the Ranger Programs that I’ve seen at other National Parks – you always get a wealth of information about what you are seeing or will see soon. I highly recommend Ranger Programs – and most of them are free!
We really liked Ruby Beach. From the parking area, there is a short walk down to the beach that winds through a berry patch. Needless to say, it took us longer than it should have to get down because we were berry-eatin’ fools! At the bottom of the trail we had to crawl over some washed up beach logs – not sure if they are washed up onto the beach as a result of natural causes or from the extensive logging industry in the area. The beach itself is made of rock and driftwood, and there are great view of the cliffs and seastacks. We spent a long time hanging out watching the waves and some sea lions swimming around near some rocks just off the shore.
There are some other beaches near Klaloch and Ruby Beach – Second Beach and Third Beach - that are only accessible by hiking at low tide. Backpacking permits are available at the Visitor Center at Klaloch – you can camp on these backcountry beaches, just make sure your tent is above high tide line! This is definitely on my To Do list for my next visit to the area.
From journal Olympic Peninsula Roadtrip
July 8, 2012
From journal Sisters NW Road Trip