Waterfall Hikes, Best Whale Viewing Spots, Culinary Loop and more on the Olympic Peninsula


August 30, 2016

By Carolyn Price

Photo at right: Plunging 40 feet over a cliff, Merriman Falls near Lake Quinault Lodge can be spotted just 30 feet from the roadway, or up close via family-friendly trails. Photo courtesy of Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau


Waterfall Trail

Billing itself as the Magical Misty Tour, the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail takes in 23 waterfalls flowing from 60 glaciers in seven regions of the Peninsula: Sol Duc, Pacific Coast, Hoh Rainforest, Quinault Rainforest, Southern Loop, Hood Canal and Elwha/Lake Crescent.

Trails range from paved or forest trail, by boat or backpack. A downloadable detailed map offers GPS coordinates, colorful photos and detailed travel instructions to each waterfall, along with icons that show trails that are wheelchair accessible, offer parking, are boat-only and those that require passes. www.olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com

Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail

The Pacific Northwest Trail is the 1,200-mile trail that ventures from the Continental Divide in Montana to the Pacific Ocean in Washington. The Olympic Region includes a section from Port Townsend through Olympic National Park to the rocky coastline. Maps, information and more at www.pnt.org

Local Wineries

Toast the Olympic Peninsula in style at any of the eight wineries along the northern shores of the Olympic Peninsula. Each local artisan winery produces less than 2,000 cases a year, ensuring local craftsmanship and flavors.

Check out many of the wineries’ selections at the Wine and Beer Garden at the Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival, Oct. 7–9 in Port Angeles. www.olympicpeninsulawineries.org

Park Your Head at these Campgrounds

In addition to great camping in Olympic National Park, there are many other options for RV and tent camping on the Olympic Peninsula. Follow the links below for information.

Olympic National Park: www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/camping.htm
Washington State Parks: www.parks.wa.gov
Clallam County: www.clallam.net/countyparks
Jefferson County Parks: www.countyrec.com/info/facilities
Olympic National Forest: www.fs.usda.gov/olympic

Photo by Roger Hoffman, courtesy of National Park Service

Mountain Goat Hiking Tips

Mountain goats are wild animals and capable of causing serious injury or even death, reports Barb Maynes of Olympic National Park. NP visitors are advised to stay at least 50 yards (half the length of a football field) away from mountain goats and other park wildlife at all times. Check out this video on hiking safely with mountain goats: www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wildlife-safety.htm

Culinary Loop Offers Farm-to-Table Bounty

Encircling the entire Olympic Peninsula is the Olympic Culinary Loop featuring 54 places for foodies and other adventurers who can delight in a variety of farm-to-table bounty.

All within easy reach of Highway 101, this four-county tour showcases the people who grow, harvest, catch, serve and share the abundance from their own backyard.

It’s not a Loop you can experience in a day, nor should you. Take your time to enjoy over multiple days or return to enjoy it in sections.

Along the way, adventurers can experience a variety of farms, bakeries, seafood, fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, handcrafted wine, cider and microbrews, a variety of restaurants and unique bed and breakfasts. www.olympicculinaryloop.com

The Whale Trail

There are 29 known species of marine mammals that live in or pass through our Northwest coastal waters from British Columbia to California including whales, porpoises, harbor seals and sea lions.

But it’s the whales, especially the resident orcas that hold the most interest and the Olympic Peninsula shoreline doesn’t disappoint. There are at least 21 great viewing spots highlighted on The Whale Trail map along the Olympic/Pacific Coast, Olympic Peninsula North and Hood Canal.

Bring your binoculars, watch for blowing spouts and if you’re lucky, you might even catch an orca breaching or looking back at you as they spy hop to get a good look around at their surroundings.

National Marine Sanctuary

We know we’re lucky living so close to so many waterways, but the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary brings it all home. Spanning over 3,000 miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula coastline, the sanctuary extends 25 to 50 miles seaward. Discover what’s beneath our local coast by visiting the Discovery Center in Port Angeles. It’s free. www.olympiccoast.noaa.gov

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