Traveling around the Olympic Peninsula in the fall can be sublime. The days are usually warm, evenings cool and mornings have that crisp, clean warmth. Here’s a quick 3-day itinerary to see the best of the best.
Day One. Starting in Seattle or Tacoma. Be ready for a busy day. Enjoy the splendor of the
leaves changing color along Hood Canal. Grab a bite to eat at one of the several places with local seafood. Check out the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop for suggestions. You’ll probably see bald eagles and herons, and perhaps a herd of Roosevelt elk. If you pack a lunch, stop at Triton Cove State Park. Continue on Hwy. 101 North to Port Angeles. From
there it’s about 45 minutes to the top of Hurricane Ridge. Hopefully, there will be new snow on the mountain range. Stunning hike to Hurricane Hill! You can see the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, and the interior of the Olympic Mountains. Overnight in Port Angeles or the surrounding area.
Day Two. Heading west on Hwy 101. Enjoy the beauty of Lake Crescent. Take a walk through the woods to Marymere Falls, one of the falls on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. The trailhead can be found turning off Hwy 101 with the signs to Lake Crescent Lodge. The lodge is open until January 1, then closes for the season. Continue around the lake to Hwy 113, the to Hwy112 West. Hwy 112 is one of the newer Scenic Byways in our state. At this time of year the leaves along this route, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkling water to the north, is one of the favorite drives. Scenic it is! Head to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, the most NW tip of the contiguous US. There is a short hike, mostly on boardwalk to the overlook to Tatoosh Island. You’ll often see whales and an array of marine animals and shore birds. Make a stop at the Makah Museum. World-class exhibits you won’t soon forget. Either stay along Hwy 112 or wander into Forks or La Push on the Quileute Nation for the night.
Day Three. Check out the Visitor Center in Forks, Land of Twilight. You’ll be amazed at the map with pins representing visitors’ homelands. There’s John’s Beach Combing Museum in Forks. Take a look at what washes up on our shores. Traveling south on Hwy 101, make a turn into the Hoh Rain Forest. Walk the Hall of Mosses for that other-worldly experience of hiking through canopies of drippy moss. Catch the Ranger-led walk if you can. Back to Hwy 101 and a stop at Ruby Beach. One of our favorites. Continuing south, Kalaloch Lodge has dining and accommodations right above the beach. Or further down Hwy 101, you’ll find Lake Quinault with many types of lodging and dining. Interesting fact about Lake Quinault. The National Park owns some of the property around the lake. The Olympic National Forest owns part of the land and the Quinault Nation has jurisdiction over the water.
The morning of the fourth day, head back to Seattle/Tacoma/Portland/Olympia. It’s closest to keep going on 101, making almost the entire loop.