Located in Washington, the hiking in Olympic National Park offers more than a half-dozen beautiful hikes and backpacking trails. The best Olympic National Park hiking based on popularity are considered to be Hoh River Trail, East Fork Quinault River Trail, South Coast Trail, South Fork Hoh Trail, and North Wilderness Beach. For a detailed trail description and printable trailhead map, just select a Olympic National Park hiking trail below.
Starting from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, the Hoh River Trail is a 17.5 mile trek through forests of Douglas Fir, Hemlocks and Big Leaf Maples with ever-present cougar, bobcat and elk. The first 11 miles of this rain forest hike are an easy, gradual ascent through lush rain forest. There are sitka spruce, hemlock, red cedar, and bigleaf maple shelter a forest floor carpeted with an incredible array of plant life.
West of Forks along the wild Pacific shoreline, the 15 mile South Coast Trail is the best wild beach hike in the US. The trail runs from the LaPush trailhead in the north to the Oil City trailhead (near the Hoh Indian reservation) in the south and follows beaches, overland trails, and headlands that can only be passed during low tide.
West of Forks along the wild Pacific shoreline, the 21 mile hike along North Wilderness Beach from Sand Point in the north to Rialto Beach in the south is an amazing adventure. This 20.8-mile hike from Rialto Beach (near Ozetta) to Sand Point (near Mora) follows beaches, overland trails, and headlands that can only be passed during low tide. Along the route, you will find rich tidal pools, harbor seals, bald eagles, and gray whales.
Northwest of Olympia and Hoodsport near Lake Cushman, the 16 mile North Fork Skokomish Trail follows the river closely through virgin forest carpeted by moss, sword ferns and salmonberry. Starting from the Staircase Ranger Station, the trail leads into the remote backcountry quickly. At Nine Streams, the route climbs out of the valley and over First Divide to the Duckabush River.
Southeast of Forks, the South Fork Hoh Trail is a remote, off-the-beaten-path rain forest trek. Just as beautiful as the much more popular Hoh Trail, this shorter jaunt is a quieter paradise that leads through virgin Sitka Spuce and western hemlock in a jungle-like rain forest setting.
South of Port Angeles, the scenic Elwah River Trail follows the river upstream for 27 miles (1,200 feet - 2,700 feet) into the Elwha Basin. The spongy trail passes through dark, moist forests of red cedar and douglas fir with beds of ferns and moss.
Northeast of Aberdeen and Lake Quinault, the East Fork Quinault River Trail is by far the most popular backpacking route in the park since it passes through the Enchanted Valley. From the Graves Creek trailhead, its a 13+ mile hike up 1,400 feet to the beginning of the Enchanted Valley, a vast glacial cirque with numerous waterfalls tumbling off the sheer cliffs. Think of it as a mini Yosemite in a temperate rain forest of hemlock, cedar and bigleaf maple.