Day hiking in the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas needs to be a bucket list item whether you are a nature lover or not. If you’ve done any exploring throughout Washington, you understand the diversity of climate across the state and the allure of the beautiful landscape. Spending time outdoors in Washington is truly a one-of-a-kind invigorating experience with the type of stunning natural beauty you’ll remember and feel far after you’ve left. Fortunately, locals and visitors alike have the privilege of endless scenic adventures on Washington’s land, which offers incredibly diverse climates and landscapes.
As such, it’s a no-brainer that day hiking is a favorite pastime in the Evergreen state. The particular climate in the peninsulas – home to charming cities such as Forks, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, Bremerton and Keyport – is a rarity in North America. The incredible Olympic Mountains sit in the center of the peninsulas, producing the state’s wettest climate in the famous Olympic National Park and Hoh rainforest. The temperate rainforest is characterized by heavy rainfall and humidity, fostering its lush green wilderness and enchanting landscape. To help you experience all that our state has to offer, our INNSiders have compiled a list of beautiful trails to explore in the rainforest peninsulas.
Madison Falls Trail in the Olympic National Park is considered an easy hike. It’s relatively short with low elevation and is open year-round for visitors to enjoy. Take a leisurely walk to a gorgeous waterfall complimented by a vibrant green shade of moss and wilderness all around. For those who grow weary along the way there are benches along the route to rest.
If you’re craving striking views of the Olympic Mountains, visit Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge on a clear day. This hike is a moderately challenging out-and-back trail nearly 3.5 miles long. With views of scenic mountain ranges, vivid alpine flowers, snow capped landscape and peaks at wildlife throughout, this hike is the quintessential Pacific Northwest excursion.
Sequim is a picturesque city in Clallam County located near the base of the Olympic Mountains. It receives beautiful sunny days and moderate temperatures year-round, making it an irresistible destination for day hiking in any season.
The Rain Shadow Loop is a popular excursion for day hiking and is half a mile of trail round trip. Although it’s short in length, prepare for a steep climb to the top of Blue Mountain. At the end, take in the incredible 360-degree views of the Cascades, river valleys, Vancouver Island and much more.
If you’re looking for a bigger commitment, south of Sequim the Upper Dungeness River trail is nearly seven miles round trip but is described as an “easy stroll.” Perfect for a beautiful, quintessential PNW day hiking experience, this stretch of trail is suitable for all ages (weather permitting). As you travel parallel to the river you’ll be enveloped in a towering Douglas-fir forest and vibrant layers of green wilderness.
Take your day hiking adventure to the beach! Hole-In-The-Wall from Rialto Beach begins at Rialto Beach parking area, a short drive west from Forks. The 3.2-mile walk itself is along the beach, so it’s important to plan ahead and check the tide schedule. Visitors report countless sightings of sea critters – small and large – and several types of birds along the route, as well as captivating sea stacks. From the majestic rocky terrain to its abundance of coastal wildlife, this beach stroll experience is one you’ll never forget!
Mini Trail is an easy, short and paved loop suitable for all ages. Although this walk is mini, there are access points to other longer hikes such as Spruce Nature Trail and Hall Of Mosses Trail. If their names don’t give it away already, this area is characterized by an outstanding ecosystem whose rainforest climate creates majestic layered beauty of flora and fauna.
The Murhut Falls trail is an ethereal day hiking venture in the Olympic National Forest. This hike is classified as “easy” and leads to a spectacular 130-foot, two-tiered waterfall that plunges into a small pond surrounded by bright green moss. Visitors average approximately two hours on this trail – you’ll have plenty of time to explore the Port Ludlow community and the Puget Sound.
Lena Lake sits toward the southeast corner of the Olympic National Forest. This “easy” 6-mile hike peacefully wraps around you with majestic fir and cedar trees. Pack a lunch and enjoy the serenity of the lake and tree-filled hills. This day hiking experience is as picturesque as it gets!
A 10-minute drive north of Port Townsend will bring you to Fort Worden State Park and the Point Wilson Trail. The Strait of Juan De Fuca borders this trail and shines under views of Mount Baker, the San Juan Islands, Cascade Mountains and more. Families can revel in the views along this easy 2.5-mile walk and stop at the lighthouse to rest and recharge. Port Townsend is a gem with loads to explore.
There’s plenty to explore in the rain forest peninsulas. If you find yourself day hiking in the Olympic National Forest, stay for a weekend at one of the incredible inns in the region.