Corralled by the Pacific Ocean, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal, the 3,600-square-mile chunk of land that comprises Washington’s Olympic Peninsula lays claim to some pretty weighty and interesting geographical titles—including Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, and that one square inch of the Hoh Rainforest that has been labeled the “Quietest Place in the U.S.” It is a wild, remote and mostly untamed region. So much so, that it was some of the last unexplored and unmapped territory in the lower 48.
While there undoubtedly remain secrets hidden within the peninsula’s rainforests, beaches and mountains, a great number of treasures have been revealed. And if you’re a fan of waterfalls, the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail serves as one of the best outlines for adventure in the Northwest. There’s a lot to see and do on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail route—here’s just a sampling.
ENCHANTED VALLEY / VALLEY OF 10,000 FALLS
Though the actual number of cascades might fall a bit shy of the oft-touted 10,000, the one- or two-day backpacking trip into the Olympic National Park’s Enchanted Valley is still one of the most renown backcountry experiences in the Northwest. Even without the archetypical old-growth forest scenery along the way, the destination would be worth the 13- mile hike in. Especially in spring and early summer, when countless ephemeral waterfalls spill down from on high, weaving a watery lace-like pattern over the mountains that protect the unspoiled valley. If you’re a waterfall hunter seeking adventure with a side of solitude, this is a trek you’ll want to make.
WHEN YOU GO:
For a complete guide to the hikes on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail, including a map, go to olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com. To learn all about travel on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, go to olympicpeninsula.org.
Just a few miles east from the turnoff onto Sol Duc Road, you’ll come upon the clean, clear waters of Lake Crescent. Highway 101 traces the distractingly picturesque southern bank of the lake to the Storm King Ranger Station and the trailhead to Marymere Falls. The nearly 120-foot cascade is accessed via another family-friendly, well-maintained path beset by a verdant understory of ferns and mosses. The 1.8-mile loop then parallels Barnes Creek beneath ancient maples and conifers before climbing to
a viewing platform near the base of the cascade. Marymere eases narrowly over a notch at the top of a rock face, spreading out gracefully on the descent to the splash pool. Explore the space—there are a handful of great angles for photography.
Lake Crescent Lodge, olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/ lake-crescent-lodge – Since 1915 Lake Crescent Lodge has been an iconic base camp for visitors to Olympic National Park. The lodge features an array of overnight accommodation options along with paddleboard, canoe and kayak rentals. The Lake Crescent Dining Room serves elevated Northwest fare complemented by an award-winning wine program.