From Bellingham, I drove south on I-5, then took Highway 20 at Burlington to Whidbey Island to get on the ferry at Coupeville. It really shortens the trip not having to drive south of Seattle then back to the Olympic peninsula. The ferry lands at Port Townsend and it’s an easy hour drive to Port Angeles and the main visitor center at the park. I visited with my daughter and son-in-law. After arriving at the park, we got some trail map info, the necessary pictures at the main entrance sign and Alex picked up her junior ranger badge workbook.
Mike biked up to Hurricane Ridge. The Ranger suggested we postpone our visit there until later in the day as it gets very busy from 10-2, and often they close the road up if there is no parking. It was about 11 after taking the 8:45 ferry and driving to the park.
So we left Mike to his bike and Alex and I drove to Salt Creek and Tongue Point for a hike along the beach and tide pools. This is on the north shore of the peninsula, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a beautiful drive and walk.
We drove along 101 through the Storm King area and the southern shore of Lake Crescent. Another beautiful drive. Next we went on to the Sol Duc falls, a spur road off route 101 which circles the park. There are no roads through the park, which is great and preserves the wilderness, but it does make for long, long drives to get to the various areas of the park to visit.
After Sol Duc, Alex headed back to the visitor center and went up to Hurricane Ridge to pick up Mike after his bike ride. While I wanted to visit that area, I didn’t want the about 4 hour round trip there and back. I went on to Kiahowya and some pet friendly hikes along the road, then stopped at Bear Lake and on down to Forks.
I made it to the Hoh Rain Forest spur road but decided to visit the next day so headed north to meet Alex and Mike. We stayed at a rest area in Forks. Alex made an excellent dinner, fresh salad and beef stroganoff, on their camp cookware, GSI, Halulite Microdualist Cookset for Two
I plan on upgrading my equipment but going to get the cookset for one: GSI, Halulite Minimalist, Cookset for One since it is literally half the price and all I’d need.
The next morning we drove over to Rialto Beach, which is part of the long skinny area of the park running along the Pacific Ocean. We all had a great long walk along the beach with Boo and their dog, Luca. The tide was coming in as we walked north but we saw lots of star fish along the rocks before the water covered them. I found a few anemones as well. We walked up the beach to some big arches and rocks before turning around to get to our car.
We headed back up 110 to get to 101 then continued south to get to the Hoh Rain Forest spur road. As I mentioned 101 circles the park, and some of the areas to visit are in the Olympic National Forest and free so I hadn’t paid the usual fee. But there was a station at both Sol Duc and Hoh Rain Forest. The day before I drove in with Alex, who has a yearly pass. The next, I parked right outside the station. I left Boo in my car, under a shady tree, with windows down and a bowl of water. I hopped in Mike and Alex’s truck to continue on to the rain forest visitor center.
We did a couple short trails here, the Hall of Mosses, less than a mile, and the Spruce Nature Trail, just a little over a mile. Both are beautiful. Lots of spruce, hemlock, cedar, club mosses draping over the trees. Good informational signs are on both trails. The most interesting explain the nurse trees. Because the forest floor is so crowded, with ferns and shrubs growing so densely, seedlings can’t germinate on the forest floor. Instead the trees sprout on “nurse trees”, old fallen trees, where they have room to grow. The nurse trees eventually rot away so many of the trees then look like their roots are on stilts.
We returned to 101 then headed to Kalaloch, another ranger station on the Pacific coast, where Alex turned in her junior ranger badge paperwork, and took the oath, to earn her 40th junior ranger badge of her trip. Both Luca and Boo also earned the BARK ranger tags (Bag your poop, Always keep on leash, Respect wildlife, Know where you can go). After a short walk on the beach by the Kalaloch Lodge, we all headed out. I said my goodbyes to Alex and Mike and headed south to Aberdeen then Portland to get on 84 east. Alex and Mike were going to Olympia for the night before continuing their travels with Mount Rainer.
Plan on 2 or more days in this park and it takes quite a while to make the drive around the circumference of the park. There is definitely more to see in the park than I did with my short visit and plenty of other attractions in the area to spend more time on the peninsula. So glad I made it here, even for a short time, as I had not visited this part of Washington yet.