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Olympic peninsula trip report

Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Olympic peninsula trip report

Trip Report:

Flight- Southwest Airlines from Chicago MDW to SeaTac on the night of the 24th.
Dates: May 25, 26th
Hotel: Ocean Park Resort, La Push

Hotel review: Location (right on first beach) and view were splendid. The room itself ( a studio with a kitchenette and a king bed), was very rustic and not as clean as it could be. Still, I'd stay there again in a heartbeat. Makes a great base for the beaches and the Hoh rain forest. Is about 15 minutes from Forks. Price ~ $50.

I stayed in Bremerton overnight to get a head start. It took about 2.5 hours to get to LaPush. I was despairing of ever getting there (are we there yet?), when I rounded the last bend to the hotel and caught my first breath-stealing glimpse of the ocean. I was finally there !!

Wed, May 25th
Arrived early(7am) on the 25th and went straight to third beach. Spent about 2 hours there. Absolutely splendid. Each of the beaches have subtle differences and their own unique beauty. With 3rd beach I was charmed by the waterfall at the south end of the beach. You cant really get to the fall unless its low tide, and I was glad I timed that well. Third beach also gave me my first view of the rugged sea stacks.

Then onto Hoh. Grabbed a burger and some gas in a little store +burger joint+gas station on the corner of LaPush Rd and Mora Rd. The drive to Hoh took about an hour.
The hall of mosses and the riverside trail were both fabulous. The layers and layers of green was enchanting. And oh yes, I got lucky with 6 dry days in a location that gets >150" of rain a year!! Spent about 6 hours hiking. The river could be forded in some places and could get onto some islands in the river. Was loads of fun. (I highly recommend taking water shoes - plenty of creeks to ford in the rain forests, the beaches and the mountains).

At around 5pm, drove to Ruby beach (abt 40 mins) and spent a couple of hours wandering around and searching out tide pools. Saw lots of anemone and jellyfish. Ruby beach is definitely one of the more spectacular beaches - very dramatic views. Oh yes, all the beaches had to entered by climbing over driftwood. I'd read about driftwood, but I didn't know that driftwood is basically entire bleached tree trunks that the ocean picks up and tosses around like matchsticks in high tide! Pretty awe inspiring.

Picked up a picnic dinner in a grocery store in Forks and headed over to 2nd beach for sunset. Didn't wander around 2nd beach much, just found a nice rock to sit on and enjoy dinner while watching the sun go down. Ah, this is the good life. Walked up the steep path out of 2nd beach and drove 5 minutes to the hotel. Fell asleep hearing the surf after a very full day.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Thu, May 26th
Spent the early morning (~5am) on the beach with my cup of tea. Was just walking along enjoying having the place to myself, when I saw a fin and then two, and then - Orcas!! I hasn't quite expecting to see whales quite this easily. A pretty playful bunch, jumping up every now and then and making me wish I had a camera with me and glad I didn't cause I could not have standed to take my eyes off them for even a moment. The natives later told me that they were probably following a shoal of Salmon somewhere and were so matter of fact about it and amused by my excitement.

Went to Sol Duc today. A little more than an hours drive and got there around 6:30am. Hiked the Seven lakes basin loop. Lots of snow on the trails but still passable. I didn't see another soul the whole hike. Its a good 18 mile hike with plenty of steep grades. Just me, the forest, the mountains, the ever gurgling creeks and the lakes. I don't really want to go to heaven - its right here on earth. I had picked up some rolls, cheese and fruit last night in Forks and made a picnic of it by one of the beautiful, clear, cold mountain lakes. It was 7:30 by the time I got back, physically tired and mentally energized. Oh, yes, I had to go through SolDuc falls to get to my trail. Oh wow! Its only about a .7 mile hike and gorgeous.

Picked up more food in Forks and went to 1st beach for the sunset. Slept like a log.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:08 PM
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Dates: May 27, 28th
Hotel: Lake Crescent Lodge

Hotel review: Very elegant. Sophisticated kind of place - I wish it wasn't. To me a national park, a wilderness area, is not the place for sophistication. I guess a formal restaurant appeals to a lot of people, but I really didn't feel like getting dressed up and there are no other dining options without driving out 20 minutes. All I'm trying to say is that I wish they also had a deli or cafeteria for those of us who prefer to be much more casual. The room itself was nice. I had a room in the main lodge with a shared bath down the hall and a view of the lake for about $75/-
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:08 PM
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Fri, May 27th
Woke up early, hoping to see more Orcas and they did not disappoint me. There they were again, at 4:45 in the morning, frolicked around for about 30 minutes before going away. This time I had my binoculars for an even better view. Checked out of the hotel and headed to Rialto beach. Hiked the mile and a half to the 'Hole in the Wall'. I thought I'd seen some sea life in Ruby beach, this was incredible. Fields of corals ,mussels, various anemones, jellyfish and starfish. (You can really tell I'm not from the coast, can't you ? ) Rialto beach was the highlight of my beach hikes.

Drove over to Lake Crescent, checked in to the lodge and started out my hikes again. Went to Marymere falls. Its sooo beautiful. Not stunning like SolDuc falls, but very dignified, enchanting and somehow moving.
Continued on to the Beaver creek trail. WARNING: The Beaver creek trail is not passable after about the first mile or so. The creek must be forded and it must be at least late fall before that be done (if at all). There's a broken bridge there, so maybe the trails just closed. Spent quite some time trying to see if I could go on, but had to abort and return.

Next, the Storm King trail. Oh ow ouch. I wasn't expecting the steep gradient (yeah, I hadn't got the ranger's trail map, my fault). Beautiful views of the lake. I lost steam about 10 minutes from the end of the summit and just sat by a beautiful vista for about an hour, just gazing down at the ripples on a very blue lake crescent. Its a 1.5 mile climb that goes up 2000ft and then does not take you to the summit. I had to go on after the "official" trail ended and there are ropes that you can use to climb up the last part. A little scary, but very worth it. The way up was a little scary, but the way down the unofficial part of the trail, was downright terrifying. Maybe I just didn't know how to do it, but, I'm never doing that again unless I have a much more experienced hiker/climber guiding me.

It was about 4 PM now, and I drove out to get a very late lunch (I had munched on fruits and granola bars all day and was hankering for a meal). Found an absolutely charming diner about 7 miles east of the lodge on WA101. Try to get a seat on the patio if you can. Nice folks, good food and a pretty setting. Drove back to the lodge, wandered around by the lakeshore, made some friends at the bar, had a huge desert for dinner ( a convinced the man at the bar (a hunk, btw ;-) ) to get me one to eat by the lake, cause I did not want to dress up), took a shower and went to bed hearing the much quieter surf of the lake.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Sat, May 28th
A full day at hurricane ridge. The previous night I was trying to decide between Elwha and Hurricane ridge, when the very helpful receptionist at the lodge (Linda), gave me a coupon for free ice cream at Hurricane Ridge and made my decision for me - yes, I can be greedy

Again, got to Hurricane ridge by 6am (an hours drive from the Lodge) and hiked to Lake Angeles via Hurricane Ridge and Klahane ridge. A 14 to 15 mile round trip. Wasn't as strenuous as the 7 lakes basin loop but the only way I knew where the trail was in some places was because of foot prints through the snow.I didn't mind getting the snow on me or my clothes because the temperature was in the upper 70s/lower 80s and I was dry in minutes and not cold at all. In fact it was relief many times. A gorgeous, gorgeous hike. Felt like I was at the top of the world. Some iffy spots where the trail was washed out or icy, but nothing major.

On my way down from Klahane ridge to Lake Angeles, I saw bear about 50 yards in front of me right on the trail. At the time, I thought it was a cub and was rather afraid that the mother would come along ( a ranger later told me that, given my description, it was probably a young adult since black bears don't grow to be all that tall). A could back away, because there was huge snow bank (that had basically slid down) behind me and I didn't want to turn my back to the bear.While I was hoping it would wander away, teddy decided to make itself comfortable and sat down right in the middle of the trail and continued to look at me. After about 15 nerve wracking minutes, it decided I was boring and wandered away. whew! I had a cow bell attached to by back pack to avoid startling bears but I guess this one just got curious... It was another scary but unforgettable experience. I hope to never repeat it but I'm glad it happened.

I hadn't seen any people on my way to the lake but met some people on Klahane ridge on my way back. Most people were put off by the snow banks and weren't planning to go any further. One of the people I met was a hiking veteran who lived in Port Angeles. She was very knowledgeable about the different lichens and flowers on the mountain and I had a fun and interesting time hiking part of the way back with her. Oh yes, the flowers. Hill sides covered with the tiniest, most colourful flowers I've ever seen! (Yup, you can tell I'm not from the mountains either ) There's nothing growing on the rocky ground but lawns of flowers - delightful!

Anyway, went back, got my free ice cream, and finished out the hiking part of my trip by going the mile and a half up to Hurricane Hill (lots of people here, partly because it was the Saturday of the memorial day weekend). Drove into Port Angeles and had dinner at 'Landings'. A nice unpretentious sea food place with live music at night and delicious food.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Sun, May 29th
The Moore Hotel, Seattle, WA
Cheap (~$45 for a room with shared bath), very clean, excellent location(2nd and Virginia - 2 blocks from Pike's Place market) and friendly, helpful staff.

Got an early start, stopped in Tacoma to see the glass bridge. The entire detour probably took about 30 minutes and to me was worth it. Left my luggage at the hotel (room wasn't yet ready), found a parking spot a couple of blocks away and headed down to Pike's Place Market. Everything about Seattle made me smile. They haven't finished fighting the election and believe in tie-dyed clothes (was this what SFO was like in the 70s ?) - i loved it. Bought a silk scarf that paid too much for, ate a halibut sandwich for lunch and wandered around listening to the buskers and shoppers and shop keepers. Loads of people watching fun.

Made my way to the waterfront and walked down to Pioneer square. Picked up a ticket for the underground tour and then went gallery hoping. Bought a nice original back and white sketch, some cheap souvenirs (mugs, magnets, postcards,..), watched some glass blowing and window shopped to my heart's content. Loved the Elliot Bay book store. The nicest book store I've ever been to - so of course I bought a book and spent about an hour and a half wandering through its aisles and reading sitting cross legged on the floor. Took the underground tour, it was nice, but it could have been more informative or about 20 minutes shorter (it was 1.5 hours long). Anyway, walked back up 1st and 2nd avenue, cleaned up and went to dinner at Cutters. Nice place, good views, good food, a little pricey (drink + entree + desert ~ $55 for one person)
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:11 PM
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Mon, May 30th.
Started later than usual. Checked out at about 10:00, put my stuff in the car and walked over to Seattle Center. Didn't feel like going up the space needle, so didn't. The Folk Life festival was on. Food stalls, music pavilions, buskers, handicraft stores, lots of children, lots of dogs - good fun. Was impressed with the number and quality of the music performances. I need to remember to look up this band called Erwillion - great modern folk music.

At about 1:30 headed back to get to the airport. No hitches in traffic or getting through security. All in all a perfect vacation!

A big thank you to all the people who helped me plan this trip and I'd be happy to return the favor by answering any questions I can.

I'd love to read all your comments about the trip ...
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Thanks for the report, ssachida.

As part of a 2 week trip to Washington this summer, we plan to spend 4 nights near Forks at Manitou Lodge. Did you happen to see it?

You gave great details about some of the hikes we hope to do. We probably (certainly) won't hike as far as you did, but love to just be away from everyone and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Thanks for describing the differences of the various beaches. Even though we're from the east coast, we just can't get enough of the wild Pacific beaches with their great tidal pools. I believe you said Rialto was best for that. Like you, we love to eat our breakfast on the beach.

Thanks, too, for giving approximate times from Forks area to different hikes. We were afraid we'd be spending too much time driving from one place to another, but this seems doable.

Since you headed out early, were stores or cafes open at that time? Any suggestions as to specific food stores, or isn't there too much of a choice?

So glad you posted this detailed report.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 06:19 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Thanks for the great report. We'll be on the OP at the end of August. 2 in 60s, 2 40 and a one-yr-old. So long hikes aren't on the agenda, but you had some gerat ones.

Would Ocean Park Resort be a good place for our family group, you think?
We were thinking of the nearby Forks Motel. A friend who used to live in Seattle advised saying on the north (dry) side instead. So we're trying to decide.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 06:54 PM
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Thanks for a wonderful report. We'll be in ONP in August for 4 days and you provided some great information for our trip planning. Like Clouise we're also staying at Manitou Lodge near Forks, so would love to hear if you know anything about it.
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 07:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Great report ssachida. We went to many of the same places last year, but didn't have the stamina for some of your long hikes. Sounds wonderful.

yes, actually some of us do like elegance in the National park. I loved the restaurant at Lake Crescent. But I can understand why you would like a more casual option.

And I'm with you about Eliot Bay Bookstore. There are not enough wonderful, independent bookstores like that left. It reminded me of the now defunct Wordsworth in Harvard square, only bigger. We spent a couple hours in there
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 08:13 PM
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Thanks for your kind comments and yes the ONP is wonderful.

Clousie and Dona, I did not notice the Manitou Lodge. However, Forks isn't as dreary as I was lead to believe by some posts on this forum. Sure it isn't as classy as Port Angeles, but is definitely not bad, and yes it is a very central location. I picked La Push because I wanted to stay on the beach.

Yes, the tidal pools in Rialto were excellent. Make sure you check the tide charts and go at low tide though. I think you have to have a -ve tide to get to the hole in the wall (atleast thats what someone at LaPush told me). It was -2.x when I was there. Also remember that it is a 1.5 mile beach hike and that takes longer than on solid ground. Be prepared to ford a small stream. I just took off my shoes, crossed the stream, and put them on again. I noticed some people giving up and going back when they got to the stream - don't!

I don't think any of the stores were open at 5 or 6 am. I think most stores open at 7am (atleast thats when the grocery store in La Push opened). I'm not a breakfast eater so I didn't mind. I'd advise you to get something the night before if you want a very early breakfast, then again, I didn't drive through Forks very early and you may have more options there.
Food Stores. I liked the grocery store in Forks - sort of like a super walmart with clothes, hardware and all sorts of other stuff besides food. The grocery stores at LaPush and Mora junction were souped up SevenElevens more than anything else. There is also an Albertson, besides other grocery stores in Port Angeles.
Restaurants. There's a restaurant in La Push called 'RiverSide' - I didn't actually eat there but a couple told me that it was adequate. The restaurant attached at Mora jn., is a small burger joint nothing else, but I liked it. I noticed a Mexican, a Chinese and a Vietnamese place in Forks, but did not eat in any of them, so can't comment. Most of my meals were picnics, who can be indoors in a place like the ONP ?
Will definitely recommend Landings in PA and Grandma's on WA101 7 miles east of Lake Crescent lodge.

Vera, I'd suggest splitting your stay between the western and northern parts of the ONP or if you don't have much time, to pick just one part. Driving from La Push to Hurricane ridge or from Port Angeles to Ruby beah can be upwards of 2 hours. Also please keep in mind that my driving times were with almost zero traffic. I'd highly recommend LaPush if you are okay with rustic slightly run-down accomodation. Cleanliness was just so-so - I found soap scum on the soap dish by the batroom sink - not such a big deal to me. Forks is more central than LaPush but LaPush is on the beach, so it depends on what you want more. You can also get cottages at LaPush that could probably accomodate more people.

china_cat, I hear you, both, about Lake Crescent and about the book store. I haven't been to the northeast yet. Maybe I could visit Masachussets (sp?) this fall, hmmm... thats an interesting thought.

I hope that answered some of your questions. I do hope that you all have great trips.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 03:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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What a great trip you had! And how lucky are you with no rain?

We did Hoh Rain Forest, Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls and Second Beach. Would love to go back and explore more - especially Hurricane Ridge. Another thing that's on my very long to do list, is hike to Enchanted Valley. That'll be a challenge since I don't backpack - but I read a lot about guided backpacks into the Valley, so maybe someday?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 11:06 AM
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Hi Karens,
Yes, I was very lucky with the rain. Imagine no rain in the land of Rain Forests!
I don't back pack either, but some of the hiking trails sure do make me want to. Do you live in the NW? Its a 4 hour flight + 3 hour drive for me and I wonder when (if) I'll get to do it again
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 01:02 PM
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Hi SS. Sometimes I truly wish I lived in the NW, but I live in the NE. I would have loved to have had more time to see more of the Olympic P., but we only had a week, and we crammed a lot into that week. We spent several days at Olympic, then drove partially along the northern Oregon Coast, and then to the Columbia River Gorge. The Gorge is a great place to hike and one of the prettiest places in the country.
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