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5 Best Hikes in the Olympic National Park This Fall

When it comes to finding the best hikes in the Olympic National Park, you’ll probably find as many opinions as you will trails.  There are what seems to be an endless variety of hikes to take within and around the park – and probably more than one person could realistically hike in a lifetime.  However, we weigh in with what we think are 5 of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park to take this fall, particularly for people who have yet to visit this incredible park.

The Olympic National Park is special, especially in the fall when the summer crowds begin to fade away. While you won’t find blazing fall foliage akin to what you’d find in Vermont, there are still plenty of stunning fall colors to behold, all set against the emerald greens and blues the Pacific Northwest is famous for. The park is also vast, which is why there are so many opinions about what constitutes the best hikes in the Olympic National Park.

Whether you’re new to hiking or a seasoned expert, we’ve included some of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park for everyone.  As always, we’re happy to offer even more recommendations for great hikes in the area, or perhaps even great restaurants or bars to hit when you’re done, and maybe even a massage therapist?  If you’re ever interested in learning more about the Olympic Peninsula, our Sequim Real Estate Agents are a vital local resource.  Contact us today!

Discover beautiful colors on these best hikes in the Olympic National Park

Best Hikes in the Olympic National Park

When it comes to choosing the best hikes in the Olympic National Park, seasons matter! Summer is, without a doubt, the most popular hiking season in the Olympic National Park. The weather is beautiful, the trails are dry and in bloom, and we have more daylight hours to explore. The trails are also much more crowded during this time of year.   Despite any potential weather-related drawbacks, we think the fall offers even better hiking opportunities. During the fall, the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful world transforms itself into something even more magical – an otherworldly place filled with contrasting colors, snow-topped peaks, rushing rivers, and plentiful wildlife.

Fall also happens to be the perfect season for hiking – especially if you’re looking to hit up the best hikes in the Olympic National Park. The trails are less crowded, it’s still mild enough outside and relatively dry through the early part of the season, and it’s wonderful. Though this list is relatively subjective, we’ve taken the time to weed through thousands of hikes in the area to narrow it down to what we think are 5 of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park to take this fall.

  1. Royal Basin is considered by many to be one of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park, and we agree.  It’s a tough hike, but the stunning fall scenery you’ll encounter along the way more than makes up for the challenge.  At first, you’ll start along the Dungeness River, walking along the moss-covered forest floor. Eventually, you’ll climb higher through a series of traverses, reaching Royal Lake. Here, the views are spectacular, especially as the colors reflect on you in this stunningly blue alpine lake.
  2. If you’re looking for sweeping mountain views and alpine surroundings, head to Deer Park.  A popular route is from Deer Park to Maiden Peak, where you’ll enjoy the majestic fall colors of mountain meadows and high alpine plants and great views of the Olympic Mountains and the Salish Sea.
  3. Another contender for being one of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park, especially during the fall months, is Staircase Loop on the Skykomish River. It’s relatively uncrowded in the fall, which makes exploring this beautiful area all the better. The trail here is just two miles which means it’s a good one for beginners. You’ll enjoy beautiful river views, a forest floor covered with mushrooms, and the beautiful sights and sounds of a forest in transition.
  4. There’s nowhere better to see the contrast of the changing seasons than the Hoh Rainforest.  Here, the normally vibrant green moss draped over the trees contrasts sharply with the shifting maples. On the ground, mushrooms or every size and shape make their presence known, and in the rivers nearby, bright red salmon swim their way to their spawning grounds. It is simply mesmerizing. There’s a lot to chose from here, but the Mineral Creek Falls trail (5-mile island) is amazing in the fall.
  5. While it may not be the most colorful place during the fall, the Ozette Triangle still deserves a place on our list of one of the best hikes in the Olympic National Park to take this fall.  These coastal trails and beaches are busy during the summer, but come fall, they once again return to their sleepy coastal bliss, filled with nothing but eagles, starfish, and endless sunsets.

This Fall drive through the park and find the best hikes in the Olympic National Park

More Great Things to do on the Olympic Peninsula This Fall

We’ve given you quite a bit to think about with this list of best hikes in the Olympic National Park, but if you’re still looking for more, you’re certainly not short on options!  Here are just a few of our favorites, but of course, you can always read our blogs for even more great ideas.

  1. Head down to the wonderful Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge in Sequim, where you’ll find plenty of birds and wildlife to watch as you stroll along the longest natural sand spit in the United States. 
  2. If hiking isn’t your speed, why not hop on a bike and explore the reaches of the Olympic Discovery Trail?
  3. Enjoy some wine tasting at the Olympic Peninsula Wineries and Cideries. Another great place to enjoy a drink is Finnriver Cidery.
  4. One of our favorite things to do each fall is hopping in the car and head out for a scenic drive.  Whether you head out west towards the coast or up in the mountains of the Olympic National Park, you’re sure to be rewarded with some stunning fall views.
  5. Watch the salmon spawning, and walk across the historic railroad trestle bridge at Railroad Bridge Park. Another great place to see the salmon spawn is the Elwah River, where you can also witness the power of Mother Nature in this wild river restoration.
  6. Head out for some leaf-peeping!  Here are some of the best spots to spot fall foliage around the Olympic Peninsula.
  7. Browse the many quaint downtowns found on the Olympic Peninsula.  Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Angeles all have ample shops and restaurants worth browsing!
  8. Fall is a great time to watch for wildlife – which includes the fall bird migration. Other than the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, some of the top places for birdwatching include Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, the Clallam Bay, Sekiu and Neah Bay areas, La Push Kalaloch beaches, the Hood Canal shoreline, and Olympic National Park.

Need more ideas?  We’re happy to help!  Just contact one of our incredible real estate agents today.