A few weeks ago I had the luxury to just get away for a few days to Olympic National Park. David was due to be out of town for three days for a business trip so I thought, “Why not take a trip of my own?” I poured over many ideas – a cabin in the woods, a forest retreat, or a trip to the wild Washington coast? After many hours of research and contemplating my options, I ultimately decided to head to the coast and explore many of the beaches and forests in Olympic National Park. While we’ve done some backpacking out there before, I knew I just needed a few days to relax by myself. With my due date rapidly approaching, I know it will be much harder to take time for myself once the little man arrives.
For lodging, I chose the Kalaloch Lodge. Driving distance of about 3.5 hours from Seattle with no need for a ferry ride, it was easy to get to and they were running a fantastic fall special. I was able to book a private cabin that overlooked the ocean. There really is nothing like waking up to the sound of breaking waves. There also wasn’t any internet access or phone service which made my trip that much more of a relaxing getaway.
The day I arrived, it was late in the afternoon and the sun was setting. There was a little trail that went down to the beach outside of the lodge and the tide was low so I was able to walk down and explore the views. I couldn’t believe the number of drift logs that had washed up on the shore! Apparently they become very dangerous at high tide and with the winter winds rolling through, I can definitely see why.
The next day, I drove about 40 minutes north to the Hoh Rainforest, a place I’ve been simply dying to go! It was sadly a very rainy day but I guess being in a rainforest is the best place to be for that. There were only a few other cars in the lot after driving down 12 miles of road through the winding mossy forest. I set out to explore a bit of the Hoh River Trail. What’s amazing about this trail is the length of it. You can go as far or as near as you want and still see some spectacular sights. I only went about a mile and a half in as I had more I wanted to explore and am well, pregnant, so I can’t do too much lengthy hiking. If you keep going, you can go as far as 17 miles to Glacier Meadows which is just incredible to me! What an adventure it would be to plan a trip all the way out there.
After the Hoh River Trail, I decided to explore the little side trails near the parking lot. There was the Spruce Nature trail which is a 1.2 mile interpretive loop. Unfortunately there was a massive downed tree part of the way through the loop so I only saw a little bit of it. That being said, the trickling streams and giant ferns made me feel like I had just stepped into the scene of my favorite childhood movie Fern Gully. There was also the Hall of Mosses Trail which is just under a mile and explores a little big of higher terrain near the parking lot. It was an easy loop and the scenes filled with draping mosses were simply spectacular.
After I was finished exploring the rainforest I had to get to the beaches. The tide was scheduled to be high during most of the daylight hours so I waited as long as I could to get out there. The beaches south of the Hoh Rainforest are very simple to get to and require only a small hike to see some incredible views. My first stop was Ruby Beach. I was so impressed by the power of the waves crashing against the sea stacks there. After that I stopped at Beach 4. A little longer of a walk down to the beach and not another soul in sight. A little driftwood bridge crossed a small stream that led to the perfect rock to sit and soak in the salty air of the Pacific Ocean. Weather conditions had improved and I was treated to a golden sunset with just me and the sea birds to enjoy. It was a really peaceful moment.
After the beach adventures I headed back to the lodge to have some dinner and another quick walk on the beach at dusk. While I wish I had brought some of my own food to cook (I booked the trip at 5pm the night before!), I was certainly not disappointed with what they had to offer. The food was fresh and healthy and the service was fantastic! I topped off both of my evenings there with reading and building a fire in the wood stove in my cabin. They supplied fresh wood every day which kept it nice and toasty.
The day that I left, I made sure to get up early enough for a little more exploring before heading back to Seattle. I made a stop at the beautiful Quinault Rainforest about 30 minutes south of Kalaloch. It was on my way home and I saw there were some simple trails there that would probably be appropriate for my very pregnant self. I chose to take the 3.9 mile loop that linked up with the Cedar Bog and part of the Falls Creek Loop. A little bit of everything! This trail offered gorgeous views of multiple waterfalls, giant towering cedar trees and a walk along the shores of Lake Quinault. It was simply stunning and the perfect way to end my trip on the coast.
I would highly recommend Olympic National Park and its coastal hikes for anyone looking for a winter hiking adventure not involving snow. What are some of your favorite winter hikes?