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Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Washington, DC
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Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Hi, all.

We have the very happy task of planning an impromptu trip to ONP. We're avid hikers (~10 miles per hike is about our limit) who love to see wildlife. I've been drinking from the information firehose on this forum and kaleberg.com.

Due to the very last notice, we booked 3 nights in Port Angeles and 2 nights in Forks (yes, I know, groan). We have 5 full days to play with. Some things still remain unclear to me, though.

1) I think we have enough time to see Hurricane Ridge, Hoh, Sol Duc, and the LaPush beaches. Do we also have enough time to see Quinault? There are way too many hikes that sound awesome: Hurricane Hill, Klahane Ridge, Hall of Mosses, Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, Spruce RR Trail, Rialto Beach, Second Beach. Based on what I've seen in the forums, I have a feeling I'm already pushing it. Which trails would be best the first week of September? If I'm not pushing it, is there anything big I'm missing?

2) What are the best places/times to see wildlife?

3) The tide charts look like we won't have great low tides at LaPush during our stay in the area (September 1-3). But, things look promising in Dungeness. Should I push something out of the itinerary to add Dungeness in?

4) I haven't seen discussion of mosquitos. Are there mosquitos in this area, or is it a non-issue?

5) We have a full day in Forks Friday before we drive back to Seattle to spend the night before our morning flight on Saturday. What is the best way to get back to Seattle? Is it worth driving the rest of 101 south and east, or should we just double-back to Port Angeles?

Washington, DC
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1. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Did I ask silly questions?

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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2. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

I don't think so. :) If you loved Acadia, wait until you see ONP!

Perhaps the experts are unavailable.

When is your visit?

Edited: 01 September 2013, 03:34
Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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3. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Oh, just saw it, first week of September. It's kinda hiding in your text.

Washington, DC
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4. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Thanks, Voyaging! I appreciate it a lot.

I really loved Acadia--it has been too long.

Port Angeles, WA
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for Olympic National Park
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5. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Your questions are great, just the sort of things you should be thinking about. I will answer in a somewhat scatter shot fashion. Mosquitoes are virtually no problem here, especially compared to the DC area. There are a small number of places, mainly high alpine lakes, where bugs can be a bother if you get right next to the water, but none of the places on your list should have a bug problem.

Much as I love the Dungeness Spit, it can't hold a proverbial candle to Rialto Beach, Second Beach, or Ruby Beach. Even at high tide, both Rialto Beach and Ruby Beach are wonderful places to visit, so give them a shot. Ruby will be a long drive, but if you do venture toward Lake Q, it is close by. You probably should give Second Beach a pass if you can't see it near low tide because its best features, the sea cave and the hidden coves, can be inaccessible at higher tides.

At the Hoh Rain Forest, do the River Trail to 5 Mile Island and back. The Hall of Mosses is only 20 minutes long, and although it features some gorgeous trees, it is inland, so you don't get the amazing combo of the glacial blue waters of the Hoh River and the giant, mossy trees.

You have plenty of time to do everything you mentioned. It's really a pleasure to write those words, as so many visitors try to cram everything in to two or three days - or less. Do try to do Hurricane Hill and Klahane Ridge if you can handle the 1450 foot ascent. The trail gets much less steep after the first 600 feet, I have to tell you, however, that you may run into a 20 minute road delay on the way up to Hurricane Ridge. The park is fixing the tunnels, and the work is ongoing. Just grit your teeth; it's worth the wait.

If you can spare 4 to 6 hours and can handle a 1600 foot to 2200 foot ascent, climb up to Deer Lake above Sol Duc Falls (1600 feet in roughly 2 hours) and then an extra 600 feet to The Potholes. Deer Lake is beautiful, but The Potholes are jaw dropping. The trail is not too steep, but it is rocky, which can tire the feet. Bring lunch. Early September is a great time to do this hike. The huckleberries will be ripe, and the air should be cool during the climb. Just watch out for berry loving black bears.

The best times to see wildlife are early morning and dusk. Elk hang out on the road to the Hoh RF visitor center, and you can often see them in the late afternoon/dusk in the dark woods flanking the roads. Olympic Golden Marmots and Olympic Blue Grouse frequent the higher reaches of Hurricane Hill, and you can sometimes see goats up there. Stay well clear of them if you do. Several people have seen bears up there this year as well. There are numerous bald eagles at the LaPush beaches. I have seen weasels, which are graceful, lovely creatures, at Deer Lake. I spotted one fisher on the eastern shore of Lake Crescent. They were reintroduced into the park a few years ago and have spread throughout the park. You can often see river otters playing on the rocks along the water at Morse Creek Trail just east of Port Angeles and at Salt Creek Recreation area, a Clallam County Park on Route 112 between Port Angeles and Joyce.

Have fun and write a trip report.

Washington, DC
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6. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Thanks, Kaleberg!

I was on kaleberg.com and looking at your tide charts. It looks like we'll have a decent low tide at the LaPush beaches on the 4th, our arrival day in Forks. Is the idea that we get to the trailhead an hour before low tide or we get to the places we can only see (Hole in the Wall) at low tide? The 5th and 6th low tides are not in green font, but look lower than the 4th. Would we still be OK to go to the beaches on the 5th and 6th?

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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7. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

If I hear one more post on how horrible Forks is I think I am going to scream and stop giving advise on TA ! This is a remote wilderness area and about visiting a National Park! Forks is a place to sleep, be close to the Hoh and the Ocean beaches. Sit on a river or watch a sunset. Panda I am not flaming at you personally. I just do not understand what people expect from a remote depressed logging town other than nice people, proximity to some of the gems of this unique place called Olympic National Park and some truly nice places to stay. Everyone's expectations of this place is unrealistic.

So not that I got that off my chest my feedback. I agree with Kaleberg' s suggestions. The must sees on your list in my opinion if you do not mind the effort are Klahanne Ridge, Sol Duc Falls Rialto and or Second Beach and the Hoh. Rialto is much easier to get to, and yes you can walk the beach to Hole in the wall anytime, it is just more difficult at high tide. Quinault is every bit as beautiful as the Hoh, just different. It has some real advantages over the Hoh, but you need to spend a couple of nights there to take advantage of it. Please anyone who is planning on staying in the horrible Forks area write me first and I will give you the plus and minuses of this town. I know it better than anyone else on this forum. And yes it does have pluses. If it did not I would never stay there myself and I have traveled to a lot of places. Do not take this personally, I just get tired of defending Forks, which yes does deserve defending.

Washington, DC
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8. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Hi glaciermeadows!

I'd love to hear what the pluses of Forks are. I was just trying to anticipate the tide of people I thought would try to dissuade me from staying there--our arrangements were already set.

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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9. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

Panda somehow people always seem to focus on the negatives of Forks. We have had people recently give their impressions on Forks after just driving by. Read a recent post where someone described their stay in the Forks area as Luxury in the woods and magical. There are some women from Nebraska that have rented the same cabin in Forks two years in a row having relished their experience. A couple from the Netherlands that stayed at yet another cabin that they thoroughly enjoyed. And the gentleman I met a Rialto Beach from Germany who said that the highlight of their NW visit was their stay on the Ocean.

I am not saying that everyone is going to have the same experience or feel the same way. Port Angeles to its credit has come a long way since I moved here 36 years ago. I still feel that by far the worst part of the drive on the Olympic Loop is driving through the strip malls of Aberdeen and Port Angeles, although I gladly admit that Port Angeles has far far more to offer the visitor and is a nicer town. I try to refrain from stating this, because I do not think it assists the visitor in anyway. Like every place PA has its advantages and disadvantages. Forks is the same. More disadvantages to be sure, but also as I said its advantages. Not everyone travels the same. Some people are looking for simple and cheaper alternatives. Some people want to cut down on the driving. Not everyone needs the best motel or Bed and Breakfast in the area. Everyone travels differently. I would rather have a room on a river or the Ocean than in the nicest motel around. I would rather cook over a grill or sit with new found friends around a big campfire or catch every sunset on the Ocean rather the eat at a three star restaurant. That is me. I am not saying everyone wants what I want. That is why we are here is to give people alternatives. And deep down having traveled as much as I have, I would imagine that there are at least a percentage of people that like the same things as I do. Also I base that on the many messages I get on TA from people.

As I said Forks is depressed due to logging shutting down. It has very little revenue from anything anymore except from a very very short tourist season. I have read about people slamming Forks for trying to capitalize on the Twilight craze. These people are just trying to survive. I do not choose to stay in Forks because I am trying to boost their economy, I stay there because of its proximity to as I said some of the most incredible spots in the NW IMO and the fact that there are terrific places to stay! I stay there to be as close to wild untouched places possible. It is not for everyone. I understand that some visitors want a choice of good restaurants and for more to do in the evenings then watch elk at dusk or walk in the forests when all the tourists have returned to their resort. And I understand. The food in Forks is for the most part just average. I never eat at McDonalds or the Olive Garden, both of which I find to be no better than average. Yet there must be travelers who do find these places adequate. It is not my vacation it is the visitors and they of course must decide how they want to spend it. Believe or not there was a time when Forks had a pretty good restaurant where you could get local seafood and a good place for breakfast that was frequented by the local workforce. They closed as the jobs left town. They also had a good Mexican Restaurant at one time until it changed. That is the past. The present is why I always recommend one burger place and getting a place with a kitchen. I fully understand a visitor not wanting to cook on vacation. It is just an option for those that want to experience the Hoh Rainforest at its best time. The other being just after sunrise.

I only started this rant because due to what others have said about Forks has already set you up with a negative impression and you have not even landed in Seattle.

By the way the best place to see elk is along the rivers, in maple glades, campgrounds like the Hoh early and late, and in meadows both in the mountains and outside the Park Boundries. They have great camouflage they can hide amongst. If you have any questions write me.

10. Re: Tides, Wildlife, Bugs, and Driving

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