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Your guide to Olympic National Forest
All About Olympic National Forest
Stretched across Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula is Olympic National Forest, an emerald paradise encompassing nearly 650,000 acres of lush woodlands covering the hilltops of the rugged Olympic Mountains and magnificent Olympic National Park. The area boasts an extensive network of multi-use trails that meander through the dense, verdant landscape full of scenic views. Shi Shi Beach, Ruby Beach, and Kalaloch Beach are just a few of the focal points that dot the national parkland’s picturesque coastline.
The breathtaking sea stacks, stone-covered beaches, and hiking trails winding along the Pacific Ocean in this vast expanse of untouched coastal wilderness provide excellent spots for exploring tide pools and temperate rainforests. Olympic National Forest is awash in diverse plant life, fungi, and lichens, which sustain various fauna, such as the Olympic torrent salamanders that roam the area. Recreational opportunities are plentiful year-round, including skiing at Hurricane Ridge in the colder months.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Olympic National Forest
The Olympic National Forest can experience up to 50 inches of rainfall in the winter, nourishing the landscapes and making them vibrant with life in the spring through fall seasons. While the weather can change drastically throughout the Olympic Peninsula, July and August often remain warm, and most roads and facilities are open, offering a range of programs. The spring months experience excellent conditions for hiking and spotting wildlife, including mountain goats, marmots, and deer. In winter, Olympic National Forest boasts mountains blanketed in fresh snow, transforming the area into a haven for winter sports enthusiasts.
Top things to do in Olympic National Forest
The Hoh Rainforest
The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States and is one of four rainforests situated on the Olympic Peninsula. Here, you can explore the lush territory by foot on numerous trails that cater to varying skill levels. The Hall of Mosses is a popular loop that’s less than a mile long, with old-growth forest, temperate bigleaf maple trees, and Sitka spruces lining its path. The trail leads to an enchanting grove of maple trees draped in a curtain of green and brown moss. The Spruce Nature Trail spans a little over a mile and winds along the Taft Creek and the Hoh River. The Hoh River Trail is the main hiking trail spanning 18.5 miles and leading to the Blue Glacier moraine, which looks up at Mount Olympus.
On the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula, just north of La Push, is Rialto Beach featuring rocky shorelines, piles of driftwood, towering sea stacks, tide pools, and the unique Hole in the Wall rock formation. The beach includes a two-mile walking trail filled with raw natural beauty, from waves crashing over Gunsight Rock and offshore sea stacks to the Tree Graveyard. Plus, there are many opportunities to spot wildlife, including whales, otters, sea lions, seabirds, and eagles.
Expanding 17 miles south of Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is a breathtaking mountain area in Olympic National Park full of hiking trails, scenic ridge tops, and subalpine lakes. Big Meadow trail is a paved half-mile loop that winds through open meadows and provides stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. Cirque Rim, a mile-long paved trail, provides views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Port Angeles. And the Hurricane Hill trail, a paved 3.2-mile roundtrip hike, leads to panoramic views of the mountains and ocean. During the winter, Hurricane Ridge transforms into a popular skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing spot.