Towering waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, epic mountaintop panoramas, rugged coastline, lush rainforests, diverse wildlife and miles of breathtaking trails. If you’re into exploring wild and natural lands and want an epic multi-day backpacking trip where you can experience all of this, then put Olympic National Park on the top of your list.
Olympic National Park is a top backcountry backpacking destination in the US. Located in Northwest Washington you’ll find around a million acres of protected rugged and expansive wilderness. From black bears to mountain goats, fields of blooming wildflowers to clear alpine lakes, this National Park has something for everyone and is truly a backpacker’s paradise.
So, if you’re ready to explore the backcountry of Washington, then grab your pack and boots because we’re going to hit the trail and discover 5 breath-taking backpacking trips in Olympic National Park.
Enchanted Valley via East Fork Quinault River Trail
Enchanted Valley is a legendary hike in the area and if you were to pick one backpacking trip to do, this might be it. This 3 to 5 day 30 mile out and back trail will surround you in lush old growth forests, colorful meadows, more waterfalls than you can count and panoramic mountain views.
Along your hike you’ll come to an old Chalet along the Quinault River, a great area to camp in for spectacular views of the valley and towering mountains surrounding you. Wildlife sightings such as black bear, mountain goats and elk can be common, so be aware, stay on trails and enjoy the excitement of being in their home.
A permit is required along with a bear canister to store food and fragrant items. It’s rated as difficult due to steep climbs and lots of miles, but it’s well worth it! Check conditions before you go, but generally April through September is opened.
Hoh River to Blue Glacier Trail
A diverse hike filled with easier miles along the forested Hoh River and a steady climb to the frozen world of Blue Glacier. This 34 mile out and back trail can be done in 3 to 5 days and a permit is required.
The first 12 miles of your hike are along the glacier fed Hoh River where you’ll see countless waterfalls, grand valleys and neon green old growth forests.
From there get ready, because you’re going to climb 3,000 feet in just under 4 miles. Although it’s not super steep, it’s steady and you’ll work hard. But the views of Blue Glacier are incredible! And you might even feel like you’ve summited Mt. Everest.
Like most trails in the area, wildlife is abundant so make sure to be aware of your surroundings and take along a bear canister. This is a popular trail, so be sure to reserve your campsites ahead of time. And the best time to go is June through September.
Seven Lakes Basin – High Divide Loop
High alpine lakes, old growth forest and numerous waterfalls make themselves right at home on the Seven Lakes Basin Trail.
A 19 mile loop that can be done in 3 to 5 days, or longer if you want more time for epic stargazing from Seven Lakes Basin. You’ll start your hike through lush forests and don’t be surprised if you spot deer or elk grazing in the meadows.
After a few miles among the trees, you’ll climb up to find subalpine vegetation and stunning views of Seven Lakes Basin. You can spend a night or two here exploring the eight lakes in the basin and let your mind wander and relax in the tranquil area.
You can either go back the way you came or make a loop and follow the High Divide Trail where you’ll have epic views of Mount Olympus and Heart Basin.
The best time of year for this trail is July through September. A permit is required, and reserving is recommended. Watch out for wildlife like bears and take a required bear canister with you.
Olympic North Coast Trail
If mountains aren’t your thing and you prefer the sounds & sights of a secluded and roaring ocean, then check out the rugged Olympic North Coast Trail.
You’ll hike along the wild and rugged Washington coastline and this coastline is unlike any other. Undeveloped and secluded, wild and rugged, breathtaking and tranquil, this is some of the wildest coastline in the US.
Whale watching, ancient Makah Petroglyphs, towering sea stacks, tide pools and unbelievable sunsets are just a few of the unique things to explore and look for on your 3 to 5 day backpacking trip. Be sure to check the tides before you go as you’ll have the fun challenge of navigating around them.
This is a one way 22 mile trail, so you’ll want to set up a shuttle. A permit is required, and you’ll need a bear canister.
If your time is more limited, but you want a delicious taste of what Olympic National Park has to offer in an overnight, then Royal Basin is a fantastic choice.
An 18 mile out and back trail follows along the Dungeness River, the second steepest river in the US. Then you’ll follow along Royal Creek making its way to the breathtaking Royal Lake. Royal Lake is surrounded by tall trees, steep rocky cliffs and breathtaking views.
From here trails make it easy to explore beautiful waterfalls and the rocky moon like Upper Basin, which is about another 45 minute hike and well worth it! There are designated camping spots in the area, so this makes for a great place to call home for a night or two.
Permits are required and this is a popular hike, so reserve ahead of time. May through October are the months to go and bear canisters are required.
Backpacking in Olympic National Park is an absolute paradise. With so many trails, so much wild beauty, you’ll never get bored.
This is the summer to take your backpacking trip to Olympic National Park! And if you need any backpacking equipment, check out TNX for all your rental equipment needs.
*Like any backcountry backpacking, make sure to plan ahead, check conditions, buy the necessary permits and respect the wildlife. Happy trails friends!