The Olympic Peninsula is recognized the world over for its unique beauty and ecological diversity. The dramatic coastline of the Pacific Ocean features sea stacks, wide open beaches, tide pools, and Native American petro glyphs. The virgin temperate rain forests (the largest in the world) are nurtured by up to 200” of rain and are home to some of the world’s largest conifers which can be seen draped with deep green moss as well as a multitude of wildflowers.
The peninsula’s high country offers viewpoints from which you can see both the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canada to the north and the peaks and glaciers of the Olympic Range to the east. Unique diversity extends to the flora and fauna as well. Resulting from eons of geographic isolation are many different unique sub-species that still reside on the peninsula including the Roosevelt Elk and the Olympic Marmot. This is an unforgettable women’s hiking trip through one of the most breathtaking natural treasures to be found in the world. Join us!
Today you fly into Seattle, Washington where you are picked up at the airport at 1:30 PM by your guides. From here we will drive to the Lake Crescent Lodge on the Peninsula where we will stay for the next three nights. We will have our trip orientation and introductions at 5:30 PM this evening, followed by our welcome dinner and any last minute questions.
Each step of today's hike offers spectacular alpine scenery! Almost from the start we'll have stunning views across the Elwha River valley of glacier-peaked Mount Olympus (at 7,965' it is the highest peak of the Olympics) and its slightly lower sister peak, Mount Carrie (6,995'). Listen closely and you may hear the sounds of the moving glaciers. The open slopes along the trail welcome ongoing scenery of the interior Olympics until we arrive at the top of Hurricane Hill (5,757') where we'll have views to the north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island beyond. A moment of rest here will give us time to take in all that this hilltop overlooks: endless forests, river valleys, and Mount Baker off in the distance. From the top of the hill, the long hikers will continue on towards the Elwha while the short hikers will head back to the trailhead. This is an out-and-back hike so the final mileage of the hikes option will be determined by the group. Time permitting, we will do a quick hike to the top of scenic 90-foot Marymere Falls on the way back to the inn. Tonight you'll have the option to dine at the lodge or take the shuttle into Port Angeles for dinner.
Today's hike has been called "The finest wild Pacific Coast day hike in the Lower 48". We will drive to the northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula where we will hike to/along a portion of the Pacific Coast that is not accessible by car. We will offer both a longer hike (a 9-mile loop) and a shorter hike (a 6.5-mile out-and-back). In each case, we will hike along much of the way along wooden boardwalks - originally put in place by homesteaders in the 1800s - through a lush hemlock and spruce forest carpeted with deer fern. After 3.2 miles we will reach Cape Alava, reputed to be one of the best places on the coast to see marine wildlife, including grey whales and many species of birds. From here, the shorter hikers enjoy the opportunity to relax and take in the views for a while before retracing their steps. The long hikers will head south along the wilderness beach passing Wedding Rocks, a collection of 300-year-old Makah petro glyphs, and large sea stacks before reaching Sand Point and heading back into the forest to complete the loop.
Today we'll explore one of the Park's famous temperate rain forests before we transfer to the Quinault Lodge where we'll be staying for the next two nights. For many, this is the favorite hike on the Olympic Peninsula. It's an out-and-back hike along the Hoh River on a duff-covered trail. This hike travels through lush green vegetation as fern, mosses, fallen trees, and saplings thickly cover the ground and Sitka spruce tower above. At about 2.7 miles we will catch sight of Mt. Tom and arrive at Tom Creek. This is an excellent spot to enjoy lunch along the river and a good turn-around point for those wishing to complete a shorter hike. For those with ambitions to keep going, we'll next encounter Tom Creek Meadows where a grove of red alder resides along the river. Further along you can't miss the magnificent red cedars that reach high into the sky. If the group is up for it, we'll continue to the 4.5 mile point where we will be treated to enormous ancient spruce. Here or at whatever previous location the group decides, we'll turn around to retrace our steps through this peaceful, rich landscape.
Dramatic cliffs, tide pools teaming with life, and sea stacks are just some of the highlights on today's hike which mostly travels along wide sandy beaches. We've created two hiking options for your coast experience; one shorter (5 miles) and one longer (10 miles). The longer hike will begin at Ruby Beach, so called for the pinkish hue of its sand. Be sure to take in the views of sea stacks and Destruction Island as we begin our journey south to Kalaloch on this point-to-point adventure. The shorter hike will begin at Kalaloch and travel north to Beach 4. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of the wildlife that call this area home: eagles, river otters, and deer. If we are lucky we may see one of the pods of Orcas that are occasionally spotted off the coast. Enjoy the smells of the salty sea air and stunning views that present themselves all along the coast to your destination.
We'll spend our final morning together hiking along beautiful Quinault Lake. This 4-5 mile loop begins by right at the Quinault Lodge and parallels the lake before heading up into the lush old-growth forest that is the "backyard" of the Lodge. Along the trail we'll encounter gigantic Sitka spruce and red cedar measuring as much as 8 feet in diameter and reaching well over 100 feet into the sky. Our journey will take us past beautiful cascades in a narrow river gorge as well as thick walls of salmonberry, elderberry and thimbleberry bushes. We will end the hike back at the Lodge where we will bid farewell to the area. From here, we will depart for the airport, and plan to arrive no later than 3:00 PM.
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