Our favorite activity is hiking, and we have found plenty of trails within
a day’s drive of the Evergreen Coho SKP Park. There are three basic kinds of
hikes on the Olympic Peninsula: beach hikes, mountain hikes, and rain
forest hikes. In this article I will give a few examples of each type of
hike, although there are many more to be explored.
I have not
included driving directions or detailed hiking descriptions. I suggest
you use an Internet search engine to find more facts and maps of the
trails. There are several good guide books you can buy. My favorite is
“Day Hiking-Olympic Peninsula” by Craig Romano
published by “The Mountain Books”. I bought this in Costco’s in 2008
Portage and Lagoon
This easy hike is
found on South Indian Island. It is about three miles
round trip and has 50 feet of elevation gain. The hike begins in the
county park, immediately past the
Indian Island Bridge. You start off on the
Portage Trail, walking through a tunnel of blackberry bushes. The Portage
Trail ends at a dirt road, and the Lagoon Trail begins a tenth of a mile
later. If it is low tide, you can walk along the beach and lagoon when
the Lagoon Trail ends.
to Point Wilson Lighthouse
This hike starts in
the town of Port Townsend. There is a path
leading down to the beach at
the back end of Chetzemoka Park. In all but the highest tides, you
can follow the rocky beach north. The walking is difficult
at first, but gets easier as the rocks become smaller and eventually turn
to sand. When the beach reaches the impassable marine museum pier,
walk inland around the pier, and then back to the beach. When you
reach Point Wilson, you can explore the exterior of the lighthouse.
This Jefferson County
park is on Marrowstone Island. It has one of the nicest beaches we have
found in the area. At low tide you can walk for miles in either
Located at the
west end of Sequim, the Dungeness Spit is a classic hike. It is 10
miles round trip if you hike to the end. You start off with a 130
foot drop down to the beach, but the rest of the hike is flat. Low
tide makes for the easiest walking. We have often seen seals in the
water staring back at us, and once we came across a seal cub on the
beach. The volunteers will give you a tour of the New Dungeness
Light Station at the end of the spit.
bicycle/walking trail begins at the Boat Haven in Port Townsend and
continues to South Discovery Road near the Discovery Bay Golf
Course. It is a trail that continues to grow. The Larry Scott Trail is part of the
Olympic Discovery Trail that will eventually run from Port Townsend
to Port Angeles. The surface is smooth and has very little
elevation gain. It starts off following the shoreline, crosses
Highway 20, then passes through farmland and forests. It is a great
“striding out” trail.
is at the end of Obstruction Road off Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic
National Park. It is the highest maintained trail in the park and
contains some of the most spectacular scenery in the state of
Washington. You start off on the wide open slopes of Grand Ridge
immediately. The views never end. If you do the whole ridge to
Deer Park it is 15 miles round trip, but we shorten it by going only
as far as the end of Elk Mountain (5 miles roundtrip,
900 feet elevation gain) or to Maiden Peak (9 miles roundtrip, 1500
feet elevation gain). The views of Olympic Peak and the Needles are
Accessed from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Klahhane
Ridge Trail takes you away from the crowds. You can get to the
ridge several ways, but we like to use the Switchback Trail, which
is located just prior to topping out on the Hurricane Ridge Road.
The trail is five miles roundtrip
and has 1700 feet
elevation gain. If you are lucky, you will see the resident
This is one of
the many trails near the town of Quilcene.
Expect company, because Mount Townsend is one of the most
popular hikes in the Olympics. It is so beautiful; you may not even
notice that you have hiked 8.2 miles roundtrip and climbed 2900
near Quilcene, this journey will take you 10.6 miles roundtrip and
3500 feet in elevation gain. My guide book says, “If for some
terrible reason you are only allowed one hike in the Olympics in
your lifetime, this should be it.” That says it all. Just do it!
Rain Forest Hikes
The access road
for this pretty hike is located near the town of Sequim. The length
of the trail is about eight miles roundtrip. It has several ups and
downs, but still only has a total elevation gain of 800 feet. You
will hike through old growth conifers as you walk along the trail.
We noticed that even if the day was hot, the temperature was always
noticeably cooler near the river. The end of our day hike is where
the trail pinches out. Supposedly, the trail continues on the other
side of the river, but there is no bridge and the crossing would be
and Thompson Spit
new state park just in the planning stages. This trail has been
built but no one knows much about it. The guide book I
mentioned above gives detailed driving directions to the trailhead.
Because the trail is so unfamiliar to all but local folks, you will
pretty much have the place to yourself. You will hike through a
lush temperate rain forest on the way to the beach. Then you can
hike east along the coast to a picturesque lagoon with a lone tree.
like we were in another world as we hiked through the misty
forest along Tunnel Creek. We encountered only one other
couple during our entire hike. The ferns, mosses, and old
growth hemlocks lent a primeval feeling to our experience.
The hike is accessed from a National Forest road out of
Quilcene. If you hike to Harrison Lake, as we did, you will
travel 8.5 miles roundtrip with 2450 feet of elevation gain.
Big Quilcene River
is popular because it goes for many miles with relatively
little elevation gain. If you terminate your hike at Camp Jolly, you will have
traveled 10 miles roundtrip and will have climbed 800 feet.
The trees are huge and magnificent. We took several breaks to
eat the wild huckleberries along the trail during our July
See you on the trail.
know if you would like to see more local hikes.