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Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Charlotte
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Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Couple in our 50's with a 14-year-old daughter, arriving via SEATAC 7/3 or 7/4 and leaving 7/13. We want to visit Seattle for about a day, ONP for five or six days, and something else wonderful in the area, perhaps Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, or the San Juan Islands. We love to hike (up to about five miles). We are not campers, but don't need fancy accommodations and don't want to pay for fancy. We have taken one whale-watching trip and aren't interested in another. We'd like to include a bit of time on the water, whether that means a ferry trip, kayaking, or some kind of tour. We love beautiful scenery, wildlife, and new experiences. We enjoy the occasional museum and are entirely uninterested in shopping. The main purpose of our trip is to explore ONP. We definitely are interested in enjoying the Hurricane Ridge area, the beaches and tide pools, and at least one rain forest. Any and all suggestions are welcome, including number of days to stay in various places (Port Angeles, Forks, and somewhere near the Quinalt Rain Forest?), where to visit other than ONP, etc. Thanks very much in advance.

Renton, WA
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1. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Go to www.kaleberg.com for a ton of information. She will probably be along in a few hours with suggestions.

Port Angeles, WA
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2. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

ONP should have just about everything you want, and you are allowing plenty f time to enjoy it. Your only problem is that you are coming during a holiday week in peak season, so some trails may be more crowded than usual, and you might not be able to get your first choice of lodging.

ONP is unique among parks in its ecological diversity. During your visit, you will want to sample each of the three ecosystems to be found here: marine beaches, temperate rain forests, and mountains. I will suggest some trails that cover each and try to give you an idea of the best base from which to visit them.

Mountains: The most accessible alpine areas are Hurricane Ridge and Deer Park. Port Angeles is your best base for this; the Hurricane Ridge Road actually starts in town, and Deer Park Road does as well. At Hurricane Ridge, drive 45 from the entry station to the Hurricane Hill Trail. Hike this exquisite, 90 minute round trip, trail and enjoy spectacular views of both the Olympics and the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. The wildflowers are magnificent up there. The trail has only a 700 foot elevation gain, but much of that gain is compressed into a few steep, rather tiring stretches. Take your time. The trail is open to the sun for all but one short stretch, so bring sun gear. Over the holiday week, lines may form at the Hurricane Ridge entry station. They are a constant feature of summer weekends. To avoid the lines, get there before 10:00 am.

The Deer Park Trails start at the end of Deer Park Road. This road can be a hairy experience for some. It is unpaved for the last few miles, and it runs right up the mountain. Once you embark on the unpaved stretch, you are committed, as there is no easy place to turn around. Any car can do it, but use caution and use pullouts in the face of another car approaching. At the end, there are some beautiful trails into the mountain, although I believe that the Hurricane Ridge views are better. The main drawback of the trails up there is that they are upside down hikes, where you start by descending and then have to climb back up. I much prefer to get my climbing down first, but some people don't mind upside down trails. I would suggest just trying out a few and going on until you decide you have descended enough.

Beaches: Rialto Beach and Second Beach, both in or near LaPush. It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach these beaches from PA. It takes about 30 minutes to reach them from Forks. You can drive to RB. You must hike 20 minutes through the woods to reach Second Beach and then clamber over driftwood, but it's worth it. Rialto Beach will be more crowded, but it is so big it never gets really crowded. Even in peak season, Second Beach is never crowded. They are both lovely beaches, but they are distinct enough from each other that it is worth visiting them both.

Rain Forests: the Hoh Rain Forest and the Quinault RF are the two places to see. For the latter, base yourself near Lake Quinault. Plan to spend 2 nights there. Unfortunately, I have never been happy with the lodging situation near the Hoh Rain Forest. I usually just bite the bullet and drive two hours to get there from Port Angeles. Forks is closer, 1 hour's drive, but I dislike Forks. If you stay in Forks you could visit both the Hoh RF and the beaches. Try to find a rental so you will have some place to cook and something to do at night.

Do not miss the Hoh RF. It is justly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend at least half a day there and hike the easy 10 mile round trip to 5 Mile Island and back. If you can only manage one long hike on your trip, this is the one to do. Bring a picnic lunch and eat it on the riverbank.

Other hikes:

Not far from Port Angeles: Lake Crescent. There are are several hikes along or near the lake, a lovely, pristine body of water know for its sapphire color. Marymere Falls and Barnes Creek run inland throught he woods away from the lake. The park has replaced a ling missing bridge on Barnes Creek, so you could turn this into a multi-hour hike if you wished. The hike to the falls and back is only 40 minutes but very worthwhile.

The Spruce Railroad Trail is another Lake Crescent hike. It runs along the lake, offers lovely lake views and a chance to swim, and it takes you past the Devil's Punchbowl, one of the most photographed spots on the lake. If you decide to go for a swim, do it when other people are around. The water is cold in the Devil's Punchbowl. I prefer to swim off the rocks beyond it, but the Punchbowl is so enticing, it's hard to resist.

Sol Duc Falls:

The Sol Duc Valley starts just past the western shore of Lake Crescent. The road through the valley is quite pretty. It parallels the Sol Duc River and features several interpretive kiosks that describe the lifecycle of the salmon. You might see some leaping in the river. The Sol Duc Falls Trail is short but gorgeous. There are trails above the falls, and they lead to beautiful places, but they are long and feature elevation gains from about 1600 ft to 2400 feet.

Near Forks: The Bogachiel Trail. This is an awesome hike, but it is muddy, muddy, muddy. If you want to do it, write back.

Third Beach: This beach is near Second Beach. It is very lovely, but it requires a longer, steeper hike throught the woods to reach it.

Near Lake Quinault: Ruby Beach, a small but beautiful beach of great PNW character.

Kayaking: call Adventures through Kayaking, 888 900 3015, for kayaking on Lake Crescent or for sea kayaking tours on Freshwater Bay near Port Angeles. The tours are wonderful.

Poulsbo, Washington
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3. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

I will start by telling you seeing Orcas in their natural environment is very different IMO than seeing larger whales. That said it would be hard for us to pick for you what would be best for you to visit. All the places that you have suggested are fantastic destinations and all very different.

We have had a lot of great weather so snow in the mountains is melting pretty fast. It may be a little early for Rainier, but it is a beautiful National Park. I love it anytime, but on a clear day the summit is beautiful and although there may be snow at vistas the roads will be clear. A visit requires at least a full day as does St. Helens, which is all about the power of nature and its rebirth.

The San Juan's are very unique and a great place to just slow down. The ferry ride alone is worth a visit, but to make it worthwhile at least one overnight should be considered.

Olympic requires at least three nights to get an idea of what makes it unique. If you want to include Quinault I would suggest four nights. My suggestion would be one night in Port Angeles. Visiting Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls. One night around Forks. Pick a place with a kitchen or a grill and a campfire. And two nights at Lake Quinault. You need to let us know what you are willing to spend for a room. Forks for instance has basic motels, but for a little more you can be in a much nicer situation and location.

From what you describe I would consider two nights on the San Juan Islands. World famous for kayaking and by far the best experience in Washington on a ferry. Choose between Orcas and S

an Juan Island. I like Friday Harbor. It is very popular for a reason. It is very late for finding rooms on the Islands, so what is available may decide where you stay.

It is also getting late for finding places to stay on the Olympic Peninsula. Google Forks Chamber of Commerce and Quinault Rainforest and see what is available.

Charlotte
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4. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Thanks. Tons of info on that website.

Charlotte
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5. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Oops; that last post was supposed to be a response to bobmrg. To kaleberg and glaciermeadows: thanks so much for your very detailed responses! I know that we are late in making plans, and a holiday week would not be my first choice, but that's what we have to work with. We now have airline tickets, and will arrive on 7/4 in the late morning and have a late-night flight out on 7/12.

As far as lodging budget, we'd like to keep it around $125/night if possible. We want to be out and about, so the lodging just needs to be clean, safe, comfortable, and in the right locations. I'm looking at the Days Inn in Port Angeles, the Quinalt River Inn in Amanda Park, and maybe the Forks Motel. I'll also check airbnb.com. I have no ideas for lodging in/near Seattle.

The more I research ONP the more I see that we would love to do, and I'm rethinking the idea of adding another destination. That said, glaciermeadows' suggestions about the San Juans sound lovely.

Second Beach sounds like a fun adventure, what with the hike through the woods and climbing over driftwood to get there. That's just the kind of thing we'll enjoy doing. We'll include Rialto and Second beaches. I visited the Hoh Rain Forest long ago and found it magical. My family has never been to a rain forest, and I'd like to include both the Hoh and the Quinalt. The long hike in the Hoh is definitely in the plan.

The very muddy Bogachiel hike...I'll have to look into that one. Speaking of mud and things wet, will we need to have actual hiking boots for this trip? We live in the south (North Carolina), and usually hike in tennis shoes. I'm more used to dealing with heat than rain and mud when it comes to hiking. Is there some way to hike while wearing a rain parka and not feel like one is in a sauna?

Regarding the Deer Park trail, that road sounds like one that would have me closing my eyes while my husband drives it. Yike. I also much prefer hikes that start with the climbing before muscles are tired, so that hike may not be for us.

I understand that the Hurricane Ridge entry station may involve a wait; will we be able to park once we get in?

I will work up a draft itinerary and post it for help. Thanks so much to everyone for helping us make a good plan. We are excited to explore the beauty of ONP.

Port Angeles, WA
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6. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Don't worry about parking on Hurricane Ridge. The rangers control access onto the road. If the parking lot fills up, the rangers halt entry until enough visitors have left to free up spots. There is one big lot at the HR visitor center; that's the one that the rangers use as a basis for controlling access. There are also three much smaller lots next to Hurricane Hill, which is a 5 minute drive from the visitor center. The road to Hurricane Hill starts right at the far end of the visitor center lot. If the closest lot to the Hurricane Hill trail head is full, just drop back to one of the two farther lots.

About mud and shoes: I, too, hike in running shoes, but I use hiking poles, especially if I am going to be going up or down muddy slopes. There are several trails such as the Bogachiel and Shi Shi Beach, where poles can be a Godsend. These trails are not steep, but they both have stretches that involve slippery, muddy descents. If you are interested in buying poles, Brown's Outdoors in Port Angeles sells good ones. Yak Trax pulled over running shoes or sneakers can provide traction for short, slippery stretches as well.

The Bogachiel Trail is underused but very beautiful. Unfortunately, you have to drive potholed Undie Road to reach the trail head, and the last time I did so, the road was in really bad shape. Once you reach the trail head, you hike down to impressive rain forest frequented by elk. Even if you don't see the elk, you will see their wallows. The trees are huge, and the trail takes you to the sparkling Bogachiel River where you can actually swim. There are, or at least there were, ropes on the descent down to the river. Unlike the Hoh, an icy, glacial river, the Bogachiel is relatively mild in temperature. You can continue hiking up to a plateau where the highly prized native blackberry grows. You actually could hike on for days into the back country, but I have only done day hikes on this trail. Lovely and unusual as this trail is, however, it is incredibly muddy. The mud gets all over your shoes and slows down progress. For this reason, I only take this trail well into the summer and never after a wet spell.

I doubt that you will need a rain jacket much during your visit. We are having a fairly dry June, and even though the true dry season does not usually start until the second week of July, this year it appears to have arrived early. Go ahead and bring a light shell, but you probably won't need it much. The Hoh RF is likely to be quite sunny during your visit.

Temperature at the beaches will likely be cool, probably the low 60's. Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge will probably be in the low 70s. Forks and the rain forests will be warmer as they farther from the moderating influence of the ocean.

I think the Days Inn in Port Angeles is a good choice.

Charlotte
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7. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Thanks, Kaleberg. Good to know that we can park once we get to Hurricane Ridge.

About the hiking poles, I have recently discovered them, and agree that they rock. Unfortunately they aren't permitted in carry-on luggage, and we don't check bags now that there's a charge for that. I don't want to pay $40 to pack poles round-trip. When we flew to Utah to visit their national parks (gorgeous!), I just ordered some cheap poles through Walmart and had them waiting for me at our destination. At the end of the trip, I gave them away to another hiker. They aren't the Cadillac of hiking poles, but for $20 for the week I was satisfied. I'll probably do the same thing this time, since that worked out so well. Thanks for the head's up about Yak Trax; hadn't heard of those.

The prospect of temps in the 60's and 70's in July sounds divine.

Looking at the idea of a side trip to the San Juans, it seems that it will take quite a lot of time to get there and back. Am I right that we would drive to Anacortes and take a ferry from there? So, if we did that starting at Seattle, about a 80-mile drive, get to the ferry terminal two hours ahead, then the ferry ride itself? We go to the coast (Atlantic) fairly frequently, so the beach vibe, which we love, would not in itself be a new experience. Opinions, please, about whether the San Juans themselves are so very different as to be worth two days of our time. We want to take advantage of the chance to see and do things we can't do around our own neck of the woods.

Thanks again for helping us plan our adventure.

Oregon/Washington
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8. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

weneedavacationsoon--I too am a die hard believer in trekking poles! I saw an inexpensive set of poles at Costco the other night, for around $20, so you could also stop there on the trip and grab those.

Charlotte
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9. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

I notice that both you destination experts have advised having cooking facilities if we stay in Forks. Is this code for "There's nowhere there to get a decent meal?" As far as the lack of night life, that will not be a problem after a day of hiking and sightseeing. Dinner, a deck of cards, and a good book will take care of that nicely before we make it an early night.

Port Angeles, WA
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10. Re: Itenerary help, please, in and near ONP early July

Oh, I don't need to couch it in code. There is no good place to eat in Forks, and some of the bad places are really bad. Look up posts from Forks visitors over the years. Some are more tolerant than others, but some are really funny in their shock at the poor quality of Forks food. There is an honest, if bare bones, burger joint outside of Forks near LaPush, 3 Rivers Resort. Don't let the "resort" mislead you. Very rustic accommodations are called resorts out here. I have been told there is also a good taqueria in Forks itself, but I have yet to try it.

Get a kitchen. You can buy groceries, save a little money, and eat a much better food. There is a perfectly good supermarket in Forks, or you could bring groceries from any of the supermarkets or grocery stores in Port Angeles. PA has two Safeways, an Albertsons, a large organic grocery called Country Aire, and a small, very sweet, organic grocery called Good to Go, where they bake great pastries. They also have a terrific Farmers' Market Saturday and Wednesday mornings from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in downtown PA. You will be in town when lots of fruit and vegetables are coming into market, and the local fish seller, Wild West Foods, has superb, locally caught fish. The produce, meat, milk, and fish of the Olympic Peninsula are incomparable. Some of the restaurants in Port Angeles and Sequim have started turning out excellent food using our local ingredients, but, unfortunately, this trend has not yet reached Forks, land of mystery meat and frozen vegetables.