Olympic National Park
The 5 Best Fall Hikes in Olympic National Park you HAVE TO DO
Olympic National Park has world class hiking all year long so don’t let the rain and darker, shorter days stop you from exploring this magical place. Fewer crowds and moodier weather bring gorgeous photography opportunities and solitude, so pack that rain gear and those rubber boots and enjoy the best fall hikes in Olympic National Park! Check out this article for more kid-friendly hikes in Western Washington!
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Kalaloch Beach hiking in fall
Kalaloch is one of the very few dog friendly areas in Olympic National Park, and a beautiful sandy beach to walk for humans too. Park at the Kalaloch Campground day use area and walk down to the beach. Once there, you can wander north for a couple of miles before the rocky headlands block your way. You can also explore the tree root cave, also known as the Tree of Life, a tree whose roots are barely holding on to the hillside as erosion slowly does its work, located on the beach near the campground. Check out our Olympic Peninsula Bucket List for more information on the hanging tree at Kalaloch.
You can also wander the other direction towards the Kalaloch lodge until you reach the creek. If you want to explore even further, check out the Kalaloch creek nature trail, a one mile loop through the old growth forest on the other side of the highway from the campground.
After your hike, warm up at the nearby Kalaloch lodge, grabbing a drink or a meal with an impressive view of the Pacific Ocean.
Second Beach: epics rocks and sunsets
Another of the Olympic National Park beaches, Second Beach features a walk through the old growth forest while the sound of the ocean grows ever closer. In just under a mile you’ll arrive at the beach which features rocky headlands, seastacks, incredible tidepools and spectacular sunsets. You can go up to a mile further to the south from the trail along the beach before a headland stops you. You can camp here after securing a permit from the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. Second beach is also one of our favorite springtime destinations in Olympic National Park.
After your hike, warm up at the River’s Edge Restaurant in La Push, enjoy tasty seafood while you take in the view which is likely to include eagles as well as various shorebirds. Google map link to River’s Edge here.
Sol Duc Falls for raging waters
Sol Duc Falls is considered one of the best fall hikes in Olympic National Park for both its colors and its calm. There are a few different ways to do this hike, one is to hike the Lover’s Lane trail from Sol Duc Hot springs up to Sol Duc Falls for a 6 mile round trip loop with 500 feet of elevation gain. It’s a beautiful forest hike ending at one of Olympic National Park’s best waterfalls! Crossing the bridge, you can return on the opposite side of the river for a loop.
If you’d like a shorter way to get there, continue past the campground to the parking lot at the end of the road. From here, you’ll go a mere 1.5 miles round trip with 200 feet of elevation gain to reach the same waterfall. After your hike, warm up at Sol Duc Hot Springs! What could be better on a crisp or rainy fall day than a forest and waterfall hike followed by a hot springs soak? Another great place to stay near Sol Duc Falls is Domaine Madeleine in Port Angeles.
Note: Sol Duc Hot Springs and the Sol Duc Road are closed in winter, open from late March to late October. Check the Olympic National Park website before venturing to Sol Duc in fall.
Hoh River Trail
Without question, another of the best fall hikes in Olympic National Park is the Hoh River Trail through the world famous Hoh Rainforest. Summer crowds are gone, the famous rain returns and ancient trees tower over you while the ferns cover the forest floor. Keep your eyes out for multiple kinds of mushrooms and your ears open for bugling elk (on the OP bucket list)! The trail goes for many mostly flat miles, so make sure to set a turnaround time and stick to it so you’re not caught in this remote area after dark (unless you’re camping! The campground is open year round).
There’s not much in the way of services near this trail, so make sure to bring along plenty of food and water. Warm up options after the hike are at least an hour away in Forks, or down at Kalaloch or even Lake Quinault.
Barnes Creek Trail/Marymere Falls
Rounding out the best fall hikes in Olympic National Park is another gorgeous waterfall: Marymere Falls. Returning rain brings lots of water to this picturesque waterfall located near Lake Crescent and Port Angeles. In addition to the waterfall, you’ll be treated to ancient old growth trees towards the end of the trail. A two mile mostly flat round trip starts at the Storm King Ranger Station at Lake Crescent, goes through the forest, along Barnes Creek and then there’s a short steep climb up to the waterfall.
After your hike, warm up at the Lake Crescent Lodge (late April through November) or in Port Angeles.
Such beautiful sights to hike to and enjoy! Fall hiking is one of the best activities on the Olympic Peninsula, and particularly in Olympic National Park. Remember, fall and winter storms can be unpredictable and even bring in unplanned snow. Always exercise caution around wildlife and be sure to stay on the trail.
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