I’m going to start right now by saying do not follow my example and only plan out one day for Olympic National Park, she deserves so much more and I will definitely be making it up in the future! But considering I didn’t have a ton of time and the smoke didn’t make for good outdoorsy conditions, here is my low-impact, one day itinerary for Olympic National Park!
Taking into account the recent fires, still present smoke, the fact that we are not avid hikers and we had our dog with us led to some tighter restrictions than the normal visitor may face but nonetheless we thought it was the perfect way to fill our day!
We used Port Angeles as our starting point for the day’s adventure, some know it for it’s ferry point into Victoria, Canada while others are vaguely familiar because it is home to Bella’s Italia, as in the restaurant Bella orders mushroom ravioli from in Twilight. We stopped at the Visitor Center to speak to a ranger about what to do and where to go considering the complications I listed above and they had plenty of suggestions for us! This is also where you’ll find the big national park sign, a perfect photo op!
While at the Visitor Center we warmed up our legs on the half mile loop onsite that is Living Forest Trail and then hit the road headed west for give-or-take 20 minutes to Crescent Lake Lodge, the most serene lake front you’ll ever experience.
We originally were headed to East Beach at Crescent Lake because it is dog friendly but turned out to be closed due to fire damage and road repairs so we the visited the shore at Lake Crescent Lodge and left Kona in the car considering it a cool day. The cute, white and green painted cabins overlook the most still, glassy lake framed by the surrounding mountains, it’s so tranquil it feels like a crime to speak above a whisper!
From Crescent Lake we headed to the notorious town of Forks, the town that served as inspiration for Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. While the town served as her inspiration none of the movie series was filmed there, though that doesn’t stop the influx of Team Edward and Team Jacob fans (don’t worry my Twi-hards, I’ll still write a post all about Forks!).
While I would have loved to go to the beach that is La Push on the Quileute Native American Reservation and yell “it’s La Push, Baby”, it was bit off our route and out of the way, so we opted to go a little further down the coast to Ruby Beach which is dog friendly! The stoney beach was covered in driftwood reminded me of my childhood summers in Northern California, dragging logs through the sand to make Lincoln Log -style forts.
To finish off our trip on the western outskirts of Olympic National Park we stopped at Quinault Rain Forest, as opposed to Hoh Rain Forest, and did the 1 mile loop walk by the ranger’s station, again leaving Kona in the car to respect the surrounding wildlife. Either of these Rain Forest’s are definitely something that should be a top your itinerary no matter how little time you have! Having spent a lot of time in the California Redwoods as a kid I’m no stranger to tall trees but these are different. The height and density of moss and foliage surrounding you is so thick it is almost claustrophobic.
By the time we reached Quinault Rain Forest the sun was starting to set, not that we could actually see it through the smoke, but we were quickly losing daylight and the drizzling rain that followed us throughout the day had grown a little heavier. With no other visitors in sight and the ranger’s station closed for the day it was just the two of us on the tight trail. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t worried about a bear or cougar eying us from somewhere in the shadows.
From start to finish we explored Olympic National Park and Forest for about seven hours, again not long enough, but enough to give us a preview of all the reasons we need to revisit in the future! And to think, all this outdoor glory is just a two hour drive from Seattle?! Washington really lives up to it’s title as the Evergreen State.