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Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

Massachusetts
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Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

Hi, My husband and I have begun to plan a trip in early September to Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and Mount Olympic.

We plan on 3 days in Seattle, then travel to Mount Rainier and Olympic, each for 3-4 days of light day hikes (up to 4 hours; light to moderate difficulty), provided the mountain weather abides by our plans! We plan to make Ashford and Port Angeles our bases in at Mount Rainier and Olympic, respectively.

My question -- before we book our lodging -- is which park should we perhaps favor with the "extra" 4th day?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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Amsterdam, The...
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1. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

I would add the extra day to ONP since you have a much larger area to deal with compared to Mt Rainier. You'll also want to split those days between PA and the coast.

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2. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

Thanks, Pala32. We were leaning in that direction, but wanted to hear from a local. :)

Port Angeles, WA
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3. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

You won't be going to Mt. Olympus; the only way to reach it is by a challenging overnight hike. In September, you will have two choices for light alpine hiking in Olympic National Park, both of them wonderful. There are several gorgeous day hikes in the Hurricane Ridge area. For details, check www.kaleberg.com, and look for the following hikes: Obstruction Point Rd., Klahane Ridge, Lake Angeles, and Hurricane Hill. The hikes referenced range from 4 hours to 90 minutes round trip. Elevation gains range from 700 feet to 2450 ft.

You can also hike up above Sol Duc Falls to Deer Lake, 1600 ft. gain, and on to The Potholes, a further 550 ft. gain. This is a beautiful hike that is thrillingly different from the Hurricane Ridge hikes.

I second the recommendation to spend more time in ONP because you can (and should!) visit the magnificent rain forests and the haunting beaches of that park. Mt. R is wondrous, but it lacks ONP's variety. As you refine your plans, please write in for more specific suggestions about lodging, food, hiking, and other activities in and near ONP. September is usually the perfect month here: crisp, sunny, and uncrowded. The nights are starry, and the days are golden.

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4. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

You should plan a hike on one of the wilderness beaches in ONP. The most accessible are Rialto Beach (north of La Push) and Second and Third Beaches (south of La Push). The turnoff to La Push is just north of Forks on Hwy 101. I personally like the hike from the parking lot at Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the Wall (about 2 miles), where you can easily spend several hours checking out the tidepools on a low-tide. Besides multicolored anemones and starfish, you'll also likely see sea otters and bald eagles.

See: www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/hole-in-the-wall

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5. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

I agree to add the extra day for Olympic. My advise would be to not base yourselves the whole time in Port Angeles. Spend at least one night in the Forks area or Lake Quinault. Yes Forks itself is pretty dismal, but there are some nice places to stay, which means you are closer to the beaches and rainforest. Quinault itself is surrounded by gorgeous rainforest and only 30 minutes from some great beaches.

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6. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

Hi Kaleberg! Thank you for taking the time to give us specific suggestions on hikes and the related website. As our time will be limited, we will have to choose carefully, and we appreciate the suggestions. Thanks, too, for the invite to write back for more specific suggestions, too, as we refine our plans!

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7. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

Hi Kurosowa! Thank you also for sharing one of your favorite hikes, the specific directions, and related website (and I love sea otters!) We look forward to checking it out!

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8. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

Hello, glaciermeadows! We know we cannot do everything and thought we would focus more on the mountains with this trip, because we have some great beaches and coast here in New England, but we'll take another look at our plans. We would find the rainforest intriguing.

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9. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

I have to be honest with you what makes Olympic so special is that it offers temperate rainforests along with its mountain range and wild coast. I grew up in New England, and our beaches are very different and within the National Park. Besides its location it is the three eco systems that make Olympic unique and special. Our rainforests and giant trees are not to be missed.

Port Angeles, WA
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10. Re: Extra Day for hiking in September -- Mt. Rainier or Olympic?

I hope the website is helpful, NewEnglandNeighbor. Like Glaciermeadows, I, too, lived for years in New England, and I loved the beaches there. However, as GM has said, the beaches off ONP are very different. They are cold, mysterious, haunting places full of sea stacks, driftwood, and rock formations. The dark forests come right down to the sand, and streams trickle through them to the sea. Alas, however, you will not see sea otters at Rialto Beach or at any of the others. Sea otters are rare off this part of the coast. At most an occasional young male will swim into the region and spend a little time here.* I have seen only three sea otters here in 15 years, and those were in the Straits of San Juan de Fuca rather than in the open Pacific. There are many river otters, but even they seem to prefer the more sheltered waters of the Straits. Monterey is the place to go for sea otters.

*We get the very occasional young bachelor elephant seal, too. One molted off Port Angeles a few years ago.

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