While Mount Ellinor is not the highest mountain on the Olympic Peninsula (Mount Olympus is, at 7,979 feet), nor the site with the most accessible high alpine views (Hurricane Ridge, in Olympic National Park is), it is one of the most popular hikes in the region, along with Sol Duc Falls and the Hall of Mosses. As well, on a clear day, Mount Ellinor has some of the best views of Olympic National Park and the peninsula as a whole from its 5,954 foot summit. Mount Ellinor also is one of the best places to see mountain goats in the entirety of Washington. While all of these items are positive - great views - ability to view wildlife - what is bad about the Mount Ellinor hike is the vertical gain. While there are many ways to climb Mount Ellinor - Upper Trail; Lower Trail; Winter route - all of these ascents feature a fair amount of vertical gain in a short distance. But for those willing to accept the pain, they will find that despite its popularity, Mount Ellinor’s summit is worth the potential suffering.
Out of all the mountains in the continental United States, few have a mystique that approaches the stature of Mount Rainier. And, out of all the mountains in the continental United States, few have the visual impressiveness of Mount Rainier, which among other reasons is why the mountain and its surrounding regions became the United States fifth National Park. At 14, 411 feet Mount Rainier is not the tallest mountain in the continental United States, but it is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range, and is one of the most challenging peaks to climb in the United States. While most of the visitors to Mount Rainier National Park do not climb the mountain in its entirety, many of the trails in the park traverse sections of the mountain, and provide excellent views of the mountain's many glaciers and snowfields.
While there are three temperate rainforests inside the boundaries of Olympic National Park (Hoh, Quinault, and Queets), the most popular and well-known is the Hoh Rainforest. In addition to its notoriety, the Hoh Rainforest is also the only one of the three to be named a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Before it received this type of recognition, however, the Hoh itself was one of the main reasons for establishing Olympic National Park, as the park itself was created to preserve “the finest example of primeval forest…”. Located on the slopes of the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains, the Hoh is also a spot that receives a great deal of precipitation, averaging over fourteen feet of rain per year. All of this rain has encouraged the growth of tall stands of sitka spruces and western hemlocks, and many other plants throughout the forest. While there are many trails that explore the Hoh Rainforest, the easiest and most accessible introduction to the region is the Hall of Mosses trail.
Olympic National Park is one of the National Park system’s crown jewels, and to many people, may be the brightest jewel in the crown. Because of its beauty, in the last ten to fifteen years, the park has seen increased traffic and visitation in many areas. Even though Olympic has gradually become more popular, like the National Park system as a whole, it still has large areas of wilderness in which adventurous travelers can experience silence and solitude. One of these areas is the Staircase region of the park, which is located in the southeast corner of Olympic National Park. The Staircase region was named by Lt. Joseph P. O’Neil during his 1890 expedition to explore the southern Olympic Mountains because of the enormous cedar staircase that he and his men constructed up and over a rock bluff, which was ultimately known as the “Devil’s Staircase”. While the enormous cedar staircase is now gone, what remains is the serene silence of old growth Douglas fir forests. One of the best and most accessible ways to experience the Staircase region is along the Shady Lane trail.
For most people, Washington is the land of trees, mountains, rain, waterfalls, and the Space Needle. While Washington is more than all of these things, it is a state with stunning waterfalls. Like any location, all of the state’s waterfalls have the own unique charm and features, which makes rating them a subjective task at best. However, in my opinion, the one of the best – if not the best waterfalls in the entire state of Washington is Sol Duc Falls, which is easily accessible by a short hike in Olympic National Park. If the “best waterfall of Washington” claim wasn’t enticing enough, the falls are also located in a historic area of the park, the Sol Duc region.
One of the reasons to visit Olympic National Park is that it is one of the most unique biomes in the continental United States, if not the world. Although there are many factors that have led to Olympic National Park becoming such a unique location, one of the factors has been the frequent and abundant rainfall that the region has received throughout the years. Even though rainfall totals vary, in general, the park receives at least 140 inches of rain per year; and all of the rainfall that the park receives has also led to the formation of large rivers, and spectacular waterfalls. While the park has many accessible waterfalls that visitors can view and explore, the easiest waterfall to view and visit is Merriman Falls, even though the waterfall is technically slightly outside of the park’s boundaries in the Olympic National Forest.