10 Best Day Hikes to Explore at Olympic National Park

I’ve had the honor of exploring much of Olympic National Park (on 3 occasions and counting) and hiking a bunch of different trails there in the process. In this article, I want to share 10 trails there that are perfect for day hikes.

The thing to understand about Olympic National Park is that it is gargantuan and that your best bet in doing day hikes there is the following:

1) Explore the outer edges of Olympic National Park (best places to do day hikes at). Anything deeper than that requires camping permits, overnight hikes and experience in hiking.

2) There are 3 sections of the park for which this is perfect for:

  • The western end (Olympic Peninsula).
  • The northern end (plenty of beautiful day hikes there).
  • Eastern end (also plenty of other day hikes there).

Understand that if you’re going to do a day hike anywhere in Olympic National Park, you’ll have to pick one of these sections, and do as many day hikes there as possible, before moving into a different section of the park and doing more day hikes the next day there.

Since I’ve explored many places in these 3 sections, I will share the spots I’ve found to be great for day hikes (in each section).

Here are the 10 best places to explore at Olympic National Park (for day hikes):

  1. best day hikes olympic national parkRuby Beach
  2. La Push Beach.
  3. Third Beach Trail.
  4. Hoh Rain Forest trail.
  5. Cape Flattery trail.
  6. Hurricane Hill.
  7. Sol Duc Falls trail.
  8. Marymere Falls trail.
  9. High Steel Bridge hike.
  10. Falls View Canyon Trail.
  11. Bonus: Quinault Rainforest (Valley of The Giants).

I’ve explored most of the day hikes on this list and I promise you, they are stunning.

I will be listing the difficult level of each day hike as I give you details on each one and where to find it. Some of them are great for tourists and kids, while others will require a lot of hiking and strenuous climbs.

1) Ruby Beach:

ruby beach olympic national park hike 01

Location: Western part of Olympic National Park.

Hiking distance: 1-2 miles round trip.

Description: I’ve visited Ruby Beach twice and it is one of the most beautiful beaches along the Olympic Peninsula.

It has a long 17 mile hiking trail that passes through it, which is obviously not fit for day hikes, but from the parking area for this beach, hiking down to it, and then exploring the area is something that can take several hours, during which time you’ll be blown away by the awesome views.

The first time I visited Ruby Beach was when it was cold and cloudy, and thus I was unable to see the beautiful sunsets this area is known for. However, if you decide to go, you may be able to catch them there and I highly recommend you do, because the west coast of Washington is perfect for that.

2) La Push Beach:

la push beach olympic national park day hike 02

Location: Western part of Olympic National Park.

Hiking distance: Also 1-2 miles.


La Push Beach is very close to Ruby Beach, so you can literally explore both of these locations in just a single day.

La Push Beach is it’s own beauty and has many areas, beaches and sea caves to explore. But the main attraction for someone looking for a truly adventurous day hike is the trail located right next to it and it is:

3) Third Beach Trail:

third beach trail olympic national park day hike 08

Location: Western part of Olympic National Park too.

Hiking distance: 6.5 miles (one way) from the parking area.

Description: Third beach is an incredibly fun but strenuous hike that is located next door to La Push Beach and while many people do this hike overnight, due to it’s strenuous climbs, it can be done in one day if you start very early, provided the tides are low when you do it.

  • You will be climbing up and down coastal mountains.
  • You will be using rope to do it.
  • You’ll be finding secret beaches along Third Beach’s amazing trails.
  • This will easily be a hike that takes you a whole day to do.
  • You will also be able to find waterfalls right on the beach near Third Beach.
  • This area is one of the top waterfall hikes in Washington State.

4) Hoh Rain Forest Trail:

hoh rain forest olympic national park day hike 03

Location: Western end of Olympic National Park.

Hiking distance: 5-10 miles round trip (requires entrance fee).

Description: Some of the most notable Instagram photos you’ll find on Olympic National Park are actually taken in Hoh Rain Forest, which will gives you an awesome look into what the deep parts of the park look like.

Much of it actually resembles the Redwoods that I explored on my first west coast road trip and if you’ve never seen what the west coast rain forest areas look like, Hoh Rain Forest is highly recommended as it’s one of the most popular trails in the entire Olympic National Park region.

5) Cape Flattery trail:

cape flattery trail olympic national park day hike 04

Location: Northern and western end of Olympic National Park.

Hiking distance: 1/2 mile (total).

Description: Cape Flattery rests outside Olympic National Park, but if you’re going to explore the northern end of it, you simply have to go here.

It is one of the most beautiful spots on the entire coast and has tons of sea caves and secret trails to explore.

The main one for day hikes is only a quarter of a mile long and takes you to beautiful overlooks like the one in the image here, but more exploration around the area will have you find more secret beaches, caves and other awesome spots.

6) Hurricane Hill:

hurricane hill olympic national park hike 06

Location: Northern end of Olympic National Park.

Hiking distance: About 3+ miles round trip.

Description: Hurricane Ridge is the most popular entrance in the northern end of Olympic National Park.

Once you drive into it, you will go through a 10 mile scenic drive that’ll take you to the top of the park, and on the end of it will be plenty of trails available around Hurricane Hill, the main one being Hurricane Hill itself which will basically be a walk at the top of the park.

It’s great for day hikes (but beware of much wildlife here).

7) Sol Duc Falls trail:

Sol Duc Falls trail olympic national park day hike 11

Location: Northern end of Olympic National Park.

Hiking distance: 3 miles round trip.

Description: Sol Duc Falls is also one of the most iconic spots to visit in all of Olympic National Park.

There is a 12 mile drive you have to do into the exit to Sol Duc Falls before you get to the parking lot and trailhead to start walking there.

And on the way, I do recommend you stop at a few areas beforehand to see things like salmon swimming upstream and seeing the other beautiful areas.

I had no idea Olympic National Park had this, but it’s an added treat if you go to this area.

Anyway, back to Sol Duc Falls:

This hike is relatively easy to walk on for most people and the waterfall itself is also quite beautiful! You can easily do this hike in a few hours.

There is another trail on the opposite end of the falls, but it leads you back to the campground of Sol Duc Falls and I would recommend going back the same way you came to this spot to make sure you don’t get lost.

8) Marymere Falls trail:

Marymere Falls trail olympic national park day hike 09

Location: Northern end of Olympic National Park (right in the middle of Crescent Lake).

Hiking distance: 3 miles round trip.

Description: Marymere Falls is a beautiful, yet simple hike through the woods and then uphill to the waterfall itself which many people take.

It is kid friendly and you’ll be able to see a lot of nice rainforest areas of Olympic National Park.

There are simple walks along the trail, and beautiful wooded areas to explore. What surprised me most about this area was how huge the trees were.

They aren’t bigger than the Redwoods, but they are far larger than any trees I’m used to seeing where I live, so this added beauty to the trail made the hike through it the better for us.

The whole hike to Marymere Falls and back to our car took us about an hour, so it’s a really short hike, but highly recommended.

9) High Steel Bridge:

high steel bridge olympic national park hike 07

Location: Eastern end of Olympic National Forest.

Hiking distance: Less than 1 mile.

Description: High Steel Bridge is the first official spot I saw on my Pacific Northwest road trip in the Olympic park area, but it was right outside the national park region).

You can drive up to and over the bridge, park your car and explore the region around the bridge which is a beautiful view of it, as well as a gorge underneath it, and a waterfall too.

Note: A lot of people might mistake this bridge for Vance Creek Bridge, which is actually close to it. I recommend going to High Steel Bridge over that one any day due to it’s safety (and legality).

10) Falls View Canyon trail:

Falls View Canyon trail olympic national park day hike 05

Location: Eastern End of Olympic National Park.

Hiking Distance: 1 mile round trip.

Description: Upon my second visit to Olympic National Park, whilst heading up to Vancouver Island (for what we called our western Canada Road trip), I stumbled onto this trail head with my friend and we were very happy that we did.

It’s a short, but quick hike down to a fairly skinny looking waterfall, but it does take you through the Olympic National Park forest area.

We really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

11) Bonus! Quinault Rainforest (Valley of The Giants):

quinault rainforest olympic national park 02

Location: South western end of Oylmpic National Park (by Lake Quinault).

Hiking distance: There’s several hiking trails in this region, some spanning for miles.

Description: I only recently discovered that this place exists in Olympic National Park and it’s very close to the 101 road, if you’re coming up to Olympic National Park from the western end of it.

Quinault Rainforest is basically more of the same kind of beauty you would expect to see across not just the national park itself, but the Pacific Northwest. However, what makes this particular spot more unique than any other in Olympic National Forest is the giant Quinault trees which are basically the Redwoods of Washington State and the reason why the nickname for this place is Valley of The Giants.

Stuff to bring with you on these hikes (my gear recommendations):

Questions about exploring Olympic National Park? Frequent ones you’ll see:

What is the best month to visit Olympic National Park?

March through October is usually the best period to visit Olympic National Park. There are usually less tourists earlier in the year because it’s colder, but the nature is still amazing in the park.

How many days do you need at Olympic National Park?

Because it’s so large, you would need at least 4 to 7 days to explore much of Olympic National Park.

Is Olympic National Park worth visiting?

Absolutely. In addition to the nature, wildlife and more, there are also beautiful coastal areas connected to Olympic National Park worth seeing.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Olympic National Park?

It is very rare to see the northern lights in Olympic National Park but they do happen there. The best areas to see them in the park would be either on the northern coast or west side of the park.

Making sure you get to do all of these day hikes in Olympic National Park:

places to see in olympic national park infographic

The truth is, getting to all of these places is tough because of how far apart each hike is relative to which section of Olympic National Park it’s located in.

If you’re seriously looking to do all of the day hikes on this list, my advice would be to:

  • Start at the western end of the park.
  • Work your way to the northern end.
  • And then finish at the eastern end if possible.

But if you are traveling from the eastern end and working your way up (backwards basically), that’s also an awesome way to do it.

I found that the most beautiful amount of spots are in the first 2 sections of the park (western end and northern end of Olympic National Park) so with this approach, you’ll basically be saving the best parts of the park for last.

And while there’s certainly many more beautiful day hiking spots in this park, this specific list focuses on the day hikes you can do there and in many cases, you can do multiple ones all in one day!

If you’ve explored a lot of Olympic National Park and have any day hikes (that aren’t on this list) that you’d like to recommend, let me know below!

This is a park I will be returning to again and again.

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