Nov. 4, 2011

Top 5 Recommended Daytrips To Olympic National Park

Soaring mountains, towering rain forests, glacier-carved lakes, lush river valleys, and rugged beaches. Where else other than Olympic National Park can claim these diverse and breath-taking characteristics?

Olympic National Park

In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation creating Mount Olympus National Monument to protect the summer range and breeding grounds of Olympic Elk.  In fact, when re-designating it as a National Park in 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt nearly named it "Elk National Park" due to it being home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt Elk in the world. The largest herd of Elk in the world; how big is Olympic National Park? This incredible park encompasses nearly one million acres of land, with 95 percent specifically designated as wilderness. Olympic National Park also protects 73 miles of wild Pacific coastline (added to the park in 1956) and is also home to the third largest glacial system in the contiguous U.S.  The park boasts the second largest ecosystem restoration project in the history of the National Park Service (next to the Everglades) which encompasses the tallest dam removal project ever in US history with the removal of the Glines Canyon Dam.  In 1976, the Olympic National Park became an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1981 it was designated a World Heritage Site. In other words, it is really really big! And, really really cool! Today, whether you have only a few hours or all day to visit, Olympic National Park makes a great day trip destination.  Olympic National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  However, before you go, check the opening and closing dates of park roads, campgrounds, visitor centers, and ranger stations at the Olympic National Park Webpage. You can also check current weather conditions here. Where is Olympic National Park? At nearly a million acres, Olympic National Park takes up a substantial amount of the Olympic Peninsula. Here is an overview map showing several key places of interest and the proximity to Seattle:

Olympic National Park Map

From Seabrook, the closest entrance to Olympic National Park is the Lake Quinault US Forest Service Ranger Station. It is roughly a 32 mile drive on the curvy Moclips Highway.

Olympic National Park Map

View above map in Google Maps.

Olympic National Park Map

View above map in Google Maps. From Seattle, Olympic National park is roughly a 150 mile drive. While there are many entrances to the park, we recommend the Lake Quinault US Forest Service Ranger Station as a great starting point.

Olympic National Park Map Seattle

View above map in Google Maps. Over the next couple weeks, we are going to share a list of our favorite day trips on the west side of the park. We figured with a park so huge, we better focus on what we know best, the Washington Coast! This week, we're featuring the Lake Quinault Lodge and Hiking Trails. Short or long, leisurely or invigorating, you'll find a great variety of hikes here. There are more than 15 well-maintained trails for you to explore, each offering a different perspective on the diverse rainforest ecosystem. These hiking trails are a great way to experience the Quinault Valley, so you may want to plan a second day to hike some of the other trails in the area. After your hike, be sure to stop in at the Lake Quinault Lodge for an incredible dinner in the Roosevelt Dining Room or just warm up with a cup of coffee in front of the majestic fireplace in the lobby. This rustic and historic lodge was built in 1926 and offers a step back in time the moment you step through the door. Quinault Lodge Lake Olympic National Park Here are the four most popular hiking trails for you to consider on your day trip: The Big Spruce Tree Trail: Only a couple minutes in length and an easy walk, this hiking trail is a great warm up. The hiking trail goes to the largest Sitka Spruce Tree known and can be accessed from a gravel pull off at the Rain Forest Resort Village about a mile from the Lodge in Washington. US Forest Service Nature Trail System: Located across from the Lodge are several miles of inter-connected, beautiful nature hiking trails complete with occasional interpretive signing. Hikes as short as a half mile are available. Maple Glade: If you are a rain forest enthusiast, this is what you came to Washington to see. The Maple Glade Hiking Trail is only a half mile in length but absolutely beautiful. Huge, Big Leaf Maples are found throughout the Washington area and are draped with streamers of moss and ferns. In the early morning or late evening the low angle of the sun back lights the huge leaves and the forest displays every color of green one can imagine. This is an easy hiking trail with no hills and is maintained by the Park Service. The Big Cedar Trail: This short trail, recently constructed by the Washington Conservation Corp, does have some high steps as you climb the hillside. Once at the top, which is about a 15 minute hike, you will see the enormous Cedar Tree some have called the "Hobbit Tree" in Washington. If you've hiked the trails of Lake Quinault Rainforest, we would love to hear about your experiences. Share your story with the Seabrook Family in a comment below and you'll be entered to win a $25 gift card to the Mill 109 Restaurant & Pub. We'll be announcing the winner in next week's post and sharing the story of Kalaloch Lodge and Ruby Beach.
By: Ivo Andov    Comments: 2
My husband and I got engaged while hiking in the Lake Quinault Rainforest in March of 2010. I had just moved back to Grays Harbor and was about to start my dream job when he offered to take me hiking at Lake Quinault, a favorite activity of ours when we were dating. It was a beautiful spring day and we were about halfway through the trail when he stopped on one of the wooden bridges to show me some "tadpoles" he saw in the water below. I stopped to investigate and when I turned around, confused at the lack of tadpoles, he was on one knee with a ring box and asked me to marry him. I was so surprised it took me several seconds to exclaim "Yes!". Of course we were hiking, so I was wearing old jeans and a sweatshirt with no makeup, not exactly the way I had imagined things! My new fiancee told me that was how I looked when he fell in love with me (we met working for the Parks department) so it was perfect for this special moment. We giddily walked to the Lodge Gift shop and bought a bottle of wine to celebrate and a magnet that still hangs on our fridge with a picture of us proudly showing off my new ring. Lake Quinault will always have a special place in our hearts and holds a lot of wonderful memories for us as a couple.
Cassie Lentz November 9, 2011 10:54am
That is a wonderful story Cassie, thank you for sharing it with us. Lake Quinault truly is a magical place :)
Ivo Andov November 9, 2011 11:14am

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