Best Hikes in Olympic National Forest (WA)


The Olympic National Forest is located on the Olympic Peninsula in the northwest corner of Washington, surrounding Olympic National Park. The Olympic Peninsula is synonymous with diversity. Landscape settings range from temperate rain forest to rain shadow, saltwater beaches to snow capped mountains, and large lowland lakes to mountain tarns.

With so much diversity, the Olympic National Forests boast nearly 300 miles of trails for hikers to explore. The best hikes located below range from mountain summits to rainforest loops. Official Website.

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Nearest Metro AreaSeattle, WA
Area Size632,000 acres
EstablishedFebruary 22, 1897
Hiking Trails296 miles

Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Olympic National Forest

  • Duckabush Trail #803 – 13.4 miles out and back
    • This trail follows the Duckabush River into The Brothers Wilderness and enters Olympic National Park at 6.7 miles. The trail enters a burned area at around the two mile mark and continues beyond Five-Mile Camp, the origin of the 2011 fire. Going over Big Hump is steep and the tread is loose rock. The grade becomes moderate again west of Big Hump all the way to the Park boundary. There are numerous camps along the trail.  There is a scenic place to rest near the river at 2.4 miles after Little Hump. The most popular camping and fishing area is at 5 mile Camp.
  • Lower Lena Lake Trail #810*** – 7.2 miles out and back
    • Enjoy a setting of forested second growth to old growth forest and beautiful 55-acre lake. The popular 3.6 mile trail to Lena Lake and Lena Lake Campground is well maintained and is a moderate grade with long switchbacks. Beyond Lower Lena Lake, the trails are much steeper and receive less maintenance.
  • Mount Ellinor Trail #812*** – 6.2 miles out and back
    • The lower trail climbs gently through the forest for the first mile, and then becomes steeper and increasingly rough. At timberline, 2.5 miles from the lower trailhead, the trail intersects the winter climbing route to the right and the summer trail route to the left. This is a good turnaround point for inexperienced hikers. Nice views of Hood Canal, Lake Cushman and the Cascades from rock outcrops near base of the chute. Summer route to summit: The trail switchbacks to the south ridge of Mt. Ellinor, then follows the ridge to the summit at 5,944′ elevation. There is also a winter route to be used during months with snow.
  • Mount Rose Trail #814 – 6.4 mile loop
    • This trail is in Mt. Skokomish Wilderness and travels through a quiet, old growth forest. Peek-a-boo views of Lake Cushman, Prospect Ridge, Dow Mountain, and Lightning Peak may be seen on the ascent. From the ridge loop trail, you can catch views of Bear Gulch Valley, Mt. Ellinor, Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, and the distant Huckleberry drainage may be seen.
  • Mount Townsend Trail #839*** – 10.8 miles out and back
    • This trail within Buckhorn Wilderness is heavily wooded the first few miles and opens up to meadows and spectacular mountain views. Trail grade is 20% first 3 miles to within 0.5 mile of summit. Mt. Townsend is a long broad summit. The trail along the summit ranges from flat up to 8% grades.
  • Mount Walker Trail #894 – 5.0 miles out and back
    • A 2 mile steep, forested hike through Douglas-fir, spring blooming pacific rhododendrons, salal, and Oregon Grape to the north summit of Mt. Walker. Grades up to 25%. Walk the road at the top for .5 miles to reach the south viewpoint. Mt. Walker is the only peak facing Puget Sound that has both a road and trail to its summit. 
  • Murhut Falls Trail #828 – 1.6 miles out and back
    • This 0.8 mile trail goes through second growth to old growth forest around Murhut Falls. This trail is maintained only during the summer months. View the falls from the top of the bank at the falls. Peek-a-boo views of Mt. Jupiter and Jupiter Ridge. Good place for camera shots of the high, picturesque Murhut Falls.
  • Putvin Trail #813 to Lake of the Angels – 6.4 miles out and back
    • This trail enters Mount Skokomish Wilderness and after 3 miles enters Olympic National Park. The trail is very steep and difficult in places; gaining over 3000′ in elevation in 3 miles. There are a few campsites scattered along the trail. Once Lake of the Angels is reached, one can find numerous way-trails and paths leading in many different directions.
  • Quinault Loop #854*** – 4.0 mile loop
    • A 4.0 mile loop trail through old-growth rainforest and along the lakeshore trail. Dense old-growth conifer forest with lush understory of rain forest vegetation. Excellent opportunity to view the Olympic temperate rain forest and Quinault Lake. Points of interest include Cascade Falls, Cedar Bog, and interpretive Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail. 
  • Tubal Cain Trail #840 – 17.2 miles out and back
    • This 8.6 mile trail within Buckhorn Wilderness travels through conifer forest to a historic mine site. Remnants of historic Tubal Cain copper and manganese mine are visible on this trail. You can take a side spur trail up the Tull Canyon Trail to the site of a 1952 B-17 crash site. Continuing on the original trail cross a creek and switchback up alpine meadows to Buckhorn Lake. Continue past the lake, to Marmot Pass for ridge line views and mountain scenery.

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