Best Hiking Trails in Olympic National Forest
The Olympic National Forest circles much of the Olympic National Park in the northwest corner of Washington state's Olympic Peninsula. The area is renowned for its diversity in flora, fauna, and geography, with pristine Pacific Northwest old-growth wilderness, coastal beaches, temperate rainforest, rivers, five wilderness areas, snow-capped mountains, abundant rainfall, low elevation lakes to alpine tarns, and a rain shadow effect to the east. The national forest spans more than 633,600 acres with a network of over 250 miles of trails and a large selection of campgrounds, including a few cabin rentals.
First begin by deciding what terrain you'd like to explore—mountains, lakes, rivers—as this national forest encompasses so many options. If you're visiting from Seattle and only have a day, stick to the eastern side of the forest (which has the most hiking options), and is closest to the Seattle ferries, or loop up from the south via US Route 101.
Check out the scenic and popular 7 mile out and back Lena Lake Trail, the longer and more challenging 11 mile Upper Big Quilcene Trail or the 8 mile [Mt. Townsend Trai(https://www.gaiagps.com/hike/trail/united-states/washington/mt-townsend-trail-839/). The 6 mile Mount Ellinor Trail is another popular choice with great views.
When to Go
Like many areas of the Pacific Northwest, the months of May-September are ideal. But because of the lower elevation of some of the area, the Olympic National Forest can be visited year-round if you don't mind the rain, and higher elevations can be great for winter snow sports, like snowshoeing.
Check out day use fee areas, here, and get prepared for your adventure with one of the many passes accepted, including the popular Northwest Forest Pass. Call one of the local ranger stations for more information.
Leashed pets are allowed in the Olympic National Forest.