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September 18, 2011 / mws

2011 Olympic National Park, September

September 15, 2011   Olympic National Park  ONP Map

For four days we traveled in a counterclockwise loop around the perimeter of Olympic National Park. The plan for the first day was to see Hurricane Ridge. This ridge is named for its intense gales and winds.  Luckily for us, it was not windy when we were there, though it was a cool 44 degrees.

Hurricane Ridge

In the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center, I saw a tee-shirt that said “Olympic National Park Rain Festival from Jan 1 to Dec 31”.  We learned the meaning of that tee-shirt.  The weather changed very quickly here.  We were lucky to arrive at Hurricane Ridge while the mountains were still visible.  We took a lot of pictures on the way up to the ridge and walked around the meadow trails at the top. While we were hiking, the rain started and within 10 minutes, the mountaintops started to dissapear.  We were glad that we took a lot of pics while we were travelling up to the ridge.

Lake Ozette

In the afternoon we drove to Neah Bay on the western tip of the Olympic Peninsula,  A side road took us to Lake Ozette, which is part of Olympic National Park.  This drive was not included on our original itinerary, but it was interesting to see this remote part of the country.

September 16, 2011  Olympic National Park
We started the morning by driving to the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls.  This is a very popular trail for youngsters, oldsters and everyone inbetween. The weather was cooperating today, so we thoroughly enjoyed our hike through the old growth forest.  The name Sol Duc means Magic Waters and indeed it appeared to be magical with the light and mist coming through the forest and over the falls.

Sol Duc Falls

We drove to Lake Crescent Lodge and found the trailhead for Marymere Falls.  This was another easy trail through the woods to see a lovely cascading falls.

Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park Marymere Falls

We took a break at Lake Crescent Lodge to have a late lunch and look around.  The Lake at the Lodge was very picturesque and we spent some time taking photos.  There was one more nature trail, so we hiked the Moments in Time Trail as our last activity on this delightful day.Lake Crescent

September 17, 2011  Olympic National Park
There are many beaches along the Pacific coastline of Olympic National Park.Second Beach

We arrived at Second Beach about an hour before low tide.  It is supposed to be the best time to visit and walk along the beach. It’s about a 20 minute walk to get to the beach from the parking area.  There was driftwood and debris to climb over, but everyone seemed to enjoy it as part of the experience.  The beach is beautiful with coves, lots of driftwood and a sea cave within a short distance.Rialto Beach

After our visit to Second Beach, we decided to try one more beach area…Rialto Beach. This beach is close to Forks, Washington and is famous for the seastack rock formations…another pretty coastal beach.

After the beaches, we headed southeast to see the Hoh Rain Forest.   The Visitors Center had good information and a small museum.  A loop trail called The Hall of Mosses took us through temperate Rain Forest with lots of old growth trees.Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Since mother nature was being kind to us today, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and see one more beach. A lot of other visitors to ONP mentioned Ruby Beach, so we went to check it out.  The beach is located at the base of a bluff, and the parking is conveniently located on the bluff.  A switchback path leads to the beach. Ruby Beach

The beach was more rocky than sandy.  Over the years, coastal storms had deposited massive logs along the high-tide mark. Warning signs at the head of the trail cautioned would-be-swimmers to stay out of  the sea. Strong undertows and surf-tossed logs waited for those reckless enough to try to swim here. The rocky beaches and ocean seascapes provided great photo opportunities.  It was difficult to stop taking pictures here and move on, but there was more to see!   The Forks Motel was our resting place for the night.

September 18, 2011  Olympic National Park

On the trail in Quinault

Olympic National Park Rain Forest

Back on the loop road, we continued south towards Lake Quinault.  Glacier-fed Lake Quinault is surrounded by mossy old-growth trees common in the rain forest. The Quinault Valley that hosts Lake Quinault and the Quinault Rainforest is known as the Valley of the Giants. Lake Quinault is located on the Southwest end of the Olympic National Park.  A 30 mile driving loop takes you around the lake.Kestner Homestead in the Quinault ValleyWe drove the loop road and hiked the Kestner Homestead trail.  Here we found the remaining buildings from the Kestner family who settled in the valley in 1891.

Lake QuinaultAt the end of the loop road we stopped at the Lake Quinault Lodge and had a wonderful lunch in the Roosevelt Room overlooking Lake Quinault.  After our many adventures in Olympic National Park, we headed southeast to Chehalis, Washington to stay for the night.

For more photos of Olympic National Park, click here

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One Comment

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  1. Anonymous / Oct 11 2011 12:29 pm

    Nice trip report for Olympic National Park. This is good travel planning information.

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