Spring is here and it’s time to get outside! After a long winter, it feels so good to spend time outdoors and enjoy the serene surroundings that can only be experienced on the Olympic Peninsula.
One of the best ways to experience the Olympic Peninsula is on foot and there countless amazing Olympic Peninsula hikes of varying difficulties, lengths, and views. It was hard to narrow it down, so I’ve picked just five of my favorite hikes within an hour of Port Townsend.
All of the trails are dog-friendly, just remember to bring a leash and to pick up after your pet.
Several of these trails are located within Washington State Parks and require a Discover Pass ($30 annually) or a $10 parking fee per park. There are two fee-free park days this month, Saturday, 4/14 and Sunday, 4/22.
Location: Port Townsend
Fort Worden has 12 miles of trails that guide you to the Fort’s famous military bunkers and breathtaking views of Puget Sound. Expect to see many of Port Townsend’s “true” including deer, eagles & hawks, seals, and if you’re really lucky - a whale!
Certain trails lead you through Fort Worden’s campus scattered with historical buildings like Alexander’s Castle and the Point Wilson Lighthouse. Others take you to Artillery Hill with the fort’s iconic military bunkers to explore (tip: bring a flashlight so you can explore the allegedly haunted bunkers!)
Location: Olympic National Forest, Brinnon
The steep hike to the summit of Mt. Walker is absolutely stunning in the springtime with rhododendrons, salal, and Douglas Firs lining the path. The trail has many switchbacks and grades up to 25%. Even though the trail is open year round, the road to the summit is only open seasonally and will open later this spring.
The incredible natural beauty and sweeping views at the summit makes this challenging hike so rewarding. There are two viewpoints and at the North Viewpoint you can see the Olympic Mountains and Quilcene Bay. At the South Viewpoint you can marvel in panoramic views of Mt. Rainier and Seattle, on a super clear day you can see the Space Needle!
Dosewallips State Park
Steam Donkey Loop is a 3.5 mile trail located on a former logging site in Dosewallips State Park. The trail is aptly named after the piece of equipment that was used to drag downed logs through the forest. The moderate Steam Donkey Loop is great for breathing in the beauty of the forest, Dosewallips River, and a waterfall. An estuary and elk herd reside nearby, making the trail a prime location to view native wildlife.
If you want to adventure further, take this pro tip from the Washington Trails Association:
If, once you've completed the Steam Donkey trail, you want to continue exploring, you can head to another trail in the park. This one boasts a short route to the delta overlooking Hood Canal, where it is possible see whales and seals from the observation area.
Location: Port Ludlow
The hike to Ludlow Falls is an extremely rewarding and short 1.25 mile interpretive loop. A well-maintained trail leads you through lush woods until you stumble upon a hidden waterfall just a ½ mile into the trail. Ludlow falls is dreamy and romantic, it is the perfect place to bring a picnic (or grab take out from the delicious Fireside Restaurant!) and listen to the roar of the rushing falls.
Port Ludlow has 30 miles of hiking trails and the Beach Loop Trail is another easy, short hike but with sweeping views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
Location: Port Townsend
Fort Townsend, now a state park, was constructed in the 1850s by the US Army. This marine park is rich with military history. Explore the former Officers’ Row with interpretive plaques and the historic torpedo tower.
The park has 6.5 mile interpretive trail and free trail maps are available in the parking lot. The trail takes you through the dense woods full of Douglas Firs, Hemlocks, Cedars, and ferns. This trail is open year round, but the springtime brings colorful rhododendrons that can reach up to 15 feet! The trail is self-guided, but on Saturdays a park ranger will provide the interpretive hike upon request.