Thanks so much to Kaleberg, and others. You helped us plan, and have a fantastic time in ONP. Our trip report is below. I have posted pictures on this site
for anyone interested. If you do look at the pictures, and have any knowledge of birds or wildflowers, I would LOVE and really appreciate the input. If you want to look at only individual albums and not bother with all of them, I have posted the links separately at the bottom of this report.
We landed at Sea-Tac airport at about 5 p.m. on Friday (not an ideal time, but as it turned out, it was not too bad). We had some issues with our car rental (and the folks at Thrifty were super helpful in dealing with them), but once that was sorted out, we were on our way by about 6 p.m. We stopped for dinner in Tacoma, and headed out to Sequim. We spent our first night at the Econo-Lodge in Sequim. It was pretty basic, clean and no problem at all. The next morning, we were pleased that we got a good start (about 8 a.m.) and were hoping to have an early and quick breakfast at Crumb Grabbers Bakery, but unfortunately they open much later. So instead we stopped at Hurricane Ridge Coffee Company, and had our coffee, and a couple of breakfast treats, and were on our way.
We began by stopping at Purple Haze Lavender farm. I love lavender, so it was a real treat for me! We were there the weekend after the Lavender Festival, which was just fine. All the lavender was still in bloom, and we missed the crowds! We went to the store there and picked up a few lavender products, both for myself and as gifts, and headed out to Jardin de Soleil, one more lavender farm. This was pretty too, but after these 2, we did not feel we needed to stop at any more.
Then we headed out to the Dungeness Spit for the hike to the lighthouse. This was a fabulous hike! We started the hike a little before noon, and were at the lighthouse by about 2 p.m. (low tide was at around 1:30 p.m. that day). We saw lots and lots of birds, though I have to say we had a hard time identifying the birds. So if any of you out there know what these birds are, and have the patience to look at my pictures, I would love to know! Thanks so much! We had carried a picnic lunch, which we ate at the lighthouse, and at around 2:45 p.m., we headed back. This hike is so beautiful, we took the luxury of stopping often to take pictures. As a result the entire round trip took us about 5 hours (not counting the time we stopped for lunch).
After the hike, we went and spent a short time at Port Williams beach, and at the Friendship Garden. Port Williams beach was OK, I would not go back there if we make it back to the Olympic Peninsula. I liked the Friendship Garden, thought it was a beautiful place to spend a half hour or so.
We had hoped to catch dinner at the Alder Wood Bistro, but since we had not made reservations, the wait was really long to get a table. So, instead we went to Fortune Star and had dinner there. The food was good, and the portions were huge! We ordered only a couple of items, but had so much left over that we got a large amount packed to take home, and enjoyed having it for dinner the next night.
Our next stop was for groceries at Safeway in Sequim, and then we went to check into our cabin in Port Angeles. We stayed at the Pond Cottage (part of the Olympic View cabins) for the next 4 nights. We loved the cabin! It was small, but had everything you might need for a brief stay, and despite its size could easily accommodate a family of upto 5. It was certainly more than enough for the 2 of us. The only problem was (as I had been warned prior to our trip by all of you on TA), that being in Port Angeles, we had a lot of driving to do every day. One of the things we have done on our past trips, that has worked incredibly well for our family in these situations, is to listen to books on tape. We find that it helps the time go by so much faster, and it helps distract our older daughter who gets terribly car sick (she was not with us on this trip). So we had our book on tape for the trip - Dan Brown's Deception Point, and that certainly eased the pain for driving for hours everyday!
For the next 4 days, while we were at the cabin, we had breakfast at the cabin, packed a picnic lunch, and had dinner back at the cabin.
The next morning, we drove to Hurricane Ridge. After spending a short time at the Visitor Center, and enjoying the views there, we headed to the Hurricane Hill hike. Another lovely hike! We saw lots of Olympic marmots and mountain goats on the way. The mountain goats made us uncomfortable since they had babies, and came up so close to us! Of course, this made for some great photos!
After the hike, we came back to the Visitor Center, had lunch and left. Our next stop was in the Ehlwa Valley. We went to Madison Falls, which are a short hike away from the parking lot. Nice falls and lovely views of the Ehlwa river across the street!
Heading out, we went to the Lake Crescent area. We did the hike to Marymere falls here, and the Moments In Time trail. I really liked the brief Moments in Time trail, it has great interpretive panels, and reading them prepared us well for all the forests we saw later in the trip. We had thought we might be able to go to the Sol Duc falls as well on this day, but this was enough for a day, so after this we went back to our cabin.
The next day we went to Hoh rainforest. Here we again chose a 10 mile hike - the Hoh River-5mile island hike. The hike goes up and down a little bit, but is largely flat. It passes a beautiful waterfall on the way. We had lunch at 5 mile island and came back. Again, we had plenty of stops to take pictures, and the hike took us about 5-5 1/2 hours.
The next day, was the high point of our trip, and the high point of my entire summer!! We drove to Ozette in the morning, and did the Ozette to Cape Alava to Sandy Point, and back to Ozette, triangular hike. Each arm of the hike is about 3 miles long. The first and last arms are thru lush rainforests on a boardwalk (the first arm also goes thru a prairie), and the middle arm is on a rugged beach with tons of driftwood and seastacks. I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed ourselves on this hike and especially the walk on the beach. The first arm (Ozette to Cape Alava) took us about 1 1/2 hours, the last arm (Sandy Point to Ozette) took us a little more than an hour. Both those were pretty close to the times that the ranger that we had spoken to at Ozette had estimated. However, the middle arm which he told us normally takes about 2-2 1/2 hours, took me a whopping 3 1/2 hours, partly because of our frequent stops to take pictures, and partly because I am not sure-footed at all, so it just took me a long time to negotiate the rocks, driftwood and the headlands. Despite the fact that it was slow going, it was incredible! We saw a number of bald eagles, other birds (again I am challenged as to what the birds are, and would love any input from the experts), a whale carcass, and the Wedding Rock petroglyphs! I have to sheepishly admit though, we made one terrible mistake on this hike, and that is we forgot our binoculars in the car! I believe if we had them we would have also seen seals in the water, and possibly a number of other birds. We also made one small mistake on this hike, and that is we did not spend any time at Sandy Point beach. Once we got to Sandy Point, we were unsure of the way back up (there was unfortunately no clear sign that we could find), so we tried going up a couple of different ways in an effort to identify the way back. We should have first spent some time at Sandy Point before trying to find a way back. Anyway,as a result, as we were exploring different routes back up, we had headed up far enough along the right path, that we did not feel up to going back down to Sandy Point and then coming back up..Oh well! It's good to know what to do differently next time!
One of the things I had done prior to going on this trip was to print out this brochure that has information on a number of waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula-
From the brochure, it seemed like there were a couple of waterfalls - Hoko and Beaver Falls- on our way back from Ozette and we wanted to try and see them. So, after the Ozette hike, we asked a couple of rangers for directions to these falls, but neither of the rangers was able to tell us. However, as you drive out, there is a small restaurant on the way. We stopped there, and the woman there was really knowledgeable. Both falls are somewhat difficult to find, but she tried her best to give us directions. Despite the help we received. we were not completely successful in finding Hoko Falls. We could hear them, and saw the run off, but could not easily find a good spot to see them. We did however see the beautiful Beaver Falls. The best landmark for Beaver Falls is the sign for Beaver Quarry. The falls are right across the street from this sign. The sign is a little over 3 miles after you pass Beaver Lake. If you can, I would encourage you to stop and see these falls.
The next morning, we checked out of our cabin and went to Sol Duc and saw the falls there, since we had missed seeing them earlier on the trip. This was going to be our day at the beaches, so after seeing Sol Duc Falls, we went to Rialto Beach, and hiked the mile and a half to Hole in the Wall. I really liked Rialto beach as well, and the hike to Hole in the Wall was great! Ellen Creek had very little water, so crossing it was easy. While I did walk to the Hole in the Wall, I did not walk thru it, again because of my difficulties negotiating the rocks. My husband did walk thru and got some lovely pictures of the other side. After Rialto, we spent some time at Second Beach, and at Ruby Beach. Unfortunately, we did not see any of the beautiful marine life in the tide pools. I am not sure why that is. One of the rangers said something about it having to do with the height of the tide. I was a little disappointed that we missed this...but again, maybe it is OK. We will have something to look forward to for our next trip! We stopped and picked up Subway sandwiches at Forks, and had them for dinner at Ruby Beach.
That evening, we drove upto Quinault and spent the night at the Riverside Cabins. I got the cabin at the last minute, and it was adequate for one night. Food is an issue for us, we try not to eat out as much as possible. So I was delighted to see that our cabin had a refrigerator! We rushed out and picked up milk and cereal from the store, and the nice lady there gave us a couple of bowls and spoons, so we were all set for our breakfast the next morning. After breakfast the next day, we had a few hours before we needed to head back to Sea-Tac airport. We went and saw the World's Tallest Sitka Spruce, which was a few minutes away from the cabins. Then we went to the Gatton Creek Falls hike. I loved the falls. The pictures don't do these falls justice, because you can only really capture the falls themselves. But when you are actually there, you stand on a bridge with the falls on one side, and the run off on the other (both of which are beautiful!). Then, once again from my Waterfalls brochure, I wanted to see Merriman Falls. We asked at the local store for directions and drove there. These are nice falls on the side of the road. Our final hike of the trip was the interpretive Rain Forest Nature trail. This seemed to be a fitting end to the most beautiful 6 days in the Pacific Northwest.
We headed out of Quinault, and drove to Sea-Tac airport, with a brief stop for lunch. We really had a great time, lots of great hikes (thanks again, Kaleberg!), beautiful beaches and waterfalls, and spectacular scenery! We will be back :-)!!
Sequim - Lavender farms, Port Williams, Friendship Garden.
Sequim - Dungeness Spit
Sol Duc Falls