A first-rate adventure in our favorite 1,500 square mile national treasure – spend time on foot in our favorite places in Olympic National Park! Join the Northwest’s favorite guides on an unforgettable exploration of the quiet corners of UNESCO World Heritage Site Olympic National Park.
We combine great hikes, good people, the best accommodations in the area and lots of laughs with an examination of what natural silence is, why it’s important, and what it feels like to engage with it. Olympic National Park is considered one of the last bastions of natural silence in the U.S.A. and the quietest place in North America. You’ll follow in the footsteps of Roosevelt elk and black tail deer, discover tumbling waterfalls that feed into the crystalline Hoh River, explore wild beaches at low-tide, sample up to a dozen types of wild berries and decompress under canopies of moss-draped big leaf maples spreading out overhead. Get outside, slow down, tune in, and enjoy this magical place with us.
The flow of the tour has been carefully crafted to maximize your time outside and provide quality access to as many of the highlights the National Park has to offer as possible. Each of the lodgings has accessible walks and trails nearby, providing opportunities for self-exploration. We’ll be walking, exploring and learning together each day as well – tailoring the distances and timing to you as we circumnavigate the Park. We aim to minimize transfer and vehicle time, but the Olympic National Park is massive and remote that some vehicle time is required each day. All of the hikes can accommodate a wide range of ability levels and interests.
DAY 1: Quinault Rainforest and Moclips Beach
To the Northwest Coast natives, Quinault means “river with a lake in the middle.” It is the name of the land and lake as well as the tribe who lived there. The Quinault River basin famously holds six different species of record-sized trees. While it is a bit of a drive from Seattle this morning, don’t worry; once we reach the lake you will be in the Big Trees before you can get out of the van! Walk a trail along the lake to see some of the largest western red cedar, Sitka spruce, and Douglas fir trees on the planet. Learn about the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the U.S. while you sample wild berries – YUM! In sharp contrast to the soaring inland forests, the coastal beaches are lined with forbidding-looking tangles of gnarled spruce and wind-whipped shore pines. There is even a “burl forest!” Keep an eye out for scurrying shore birds, surf-riding scoters, and soaring bald eagles as we wander across fine sands. Depending on the day, your guide may choose to flip these two destinations, but no matter the order, you’ll end up back at Lake Quinault to spend the night at the historic lodge gracing its shores.
5 miles (or more), mostly flat
DAY 2: The Hoh Rainforest
Cited as being one of the quietest places on earth, and truly one of the “bucket-list” destinations in the Park, the Hoh Rainforest allows us to step into an ancient time when our presence in the forest was guided by a need to hear but not be heard. Hoh means “whitewater,” an apt description for the boulder-strewn, braided ribbon of a river formed from the glaciers on Mt Olympus. Begin at the Visitor’s Center on the Hall of Mosses Nature Trail and continue up the Hoh River Trail for lunch by the river, and with any luck, track down an elk herd along the way. Colonnades of spruce stretch toward the sky high above the canopy, big leaf maples spread out over green meadows, and lichens and mosses run wall to wall and floor to ceiling. In this silent forest, there is more biomass per acre than anywhere else on the planet. Inevitably, you will run out of adjectives for “green!” From the Hoh, we continue around the peninsula to Port Angeles on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Enjoy more water views from your room at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles, and celebrate a fabulous trip with some of the Northwest’s finest “tavern-chic” cuisine!
Hall of Mosses and Hoh Rainforest Trail: up to 10 miles and 10,300 ft. gain (optional), 800-1000 ft. elevation
DAY 3: Hurricane Ridge
Wildflowers. Olympic Marmots. Mountain Vistas. Ferry-ride.
Today we celebrate our last day with an ascent to the literal high-point of the tour – Hurricane Ridge. This land is shaped by wind – gusting to over 70 mph, with snows 30-35 feet deep. We climb up through alpine meadows and tree islands, spying black-tailed deer, mountain goats, and Olympic marmots (an endemic species of giant ground squirrel) until we reach Hurricane Hill. There we are met by sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the north. Following our trip into the high-country, our return to Seattle concludes with a spectacular ferry ride across the Puget Sound.
5 miles, 700 ft. gain, 5100-5800 ft. elevation