Backpacking the North Fork Skokomish River Trail

In the Footsteps of the 1890 Banner Party:
Backpacking the North Fork Skokomish River Trail

I jumped at the chance to explore the North Fork of the Skokomish River with a friend who knows many of its secrets. Donovan told me we’d be backpacking in the footsteps of the famous O’Neil expedition of 1890, and we’d also be following the path of a little-know group of explorers – the Banner Party........
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Olympic Discovery Trail Bike Trip

Bicycling the Olympic Discovery Trail

Trisha and I took a few days off after the busy summer had ended to bicycle over the route of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). While we journeyed along the trail, we were also journeying back in time. The route of the ODT is over the former tracks.......
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The Bailey Range Traverse

The Bailey Range Traverse

High along the spine of the Quinault and Queets River watersheds in the middle of Olympic National Park lies Skyline Ridge, a little-used trail that is as spectacular as it is challenging. “Not for the careful or timid,” said a 1928 U. S. Forest Service trail inspection report.......
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Building the Hayes River Rescue Patrol Cabin

Building the Hayes River Rescue Patrol Cabin

In July 1969, while the first man was walking on the moon, I was driving my ’64 El Camino from southern California to Port Angeles, Washington to participate as a volunteer with the Student Conservation Association. I was right out of High School, seventeen and just months away from registering with the draft board for the Vietnam War.......
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Skyline Ridge Trail Backpacking Adventure

Skyline Ridge Trail Backpacking Adventure

High along the spine of the Quinault and Queets River watersheds in the middle of Olympic National Park lies Skyline Ridge, a little-used trail that is as spectacular as it is challenging. “Not for the careful or timid,” said a 1928 U. S. Forest Service trail inspection report.......
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Coming of Age on the Elwha

Coming of Age on the Elwha

It is required of all fathers to indoctrinate their innocent children into the wonderful world of wilderness packing, fishing and camping. This rite of passage for emerging generations results in ill advised, poorly planned and outrageously idealistic excursions by the male parent.......
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Exploring the Crescent Mine 2013

Exploring the Crescent Mine 2013

I have a confession: I’m lured by stories of vanished gold, hidden gems, old maps, and especially all manner of lost mines – so I was very excited when my friend Lynn Johnson asked me to take a walk along the Olympic Discovery Trail and visit the abandoned Crescent Mine. Andy Stevenson joined us......
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Cameron Creek and Grand Valley Backpacking Adventure

Cameron Creek and Grand Valley Backpacking Adventure

It’s not easy getting three college kids with busy summers together for a three-day wilderness outing, but after much planning, convincing, cajoling, rescheduling and compromising, the morning of our annual family outdoor adventure arrived. We drove to the Slab Camp Trailhead and at 8am slid on our backpacks. My wife Trisha lifted her pack gingerly; she had managed to remain active even with a decade-old back injury.......
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Grand Ridge with the Klahhane Club 2013

Grand Ridge with the
Klahhane Club 2013

I enjoyed the day hike along Grand Ridge because much of it was above tree-line. The National Park Service lists this trail as the highest in the Olympic National Park. The trailhead starts at Deer Park Campground at 5,200 feet and climbs to over 6,500 feet. It is a remarkable trail......
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Historic Canoe trip on Lake Mills

Historic Canoe trip on Lake Mills

Andy Sallee sent in this wonderful story about his canoe trip from years ago. Andy says, "I'll miss Lake Mills when it’s gone and look forward to sharing stories about it with my grandchildren." Thanks for preserving a slice of history, Andy. - The Incidental Explorer......
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FISHING FOR THE BEARDSLEE TROUT

FISHING FOR THE BEARDSLEE TROUT

It was opening day of trout season on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. I dressed quietly in the grayness of the early morning, slipped on my fishing vest and crept down the creaky stairs and through the dark lobby in my stocking feet. I laced up my boots on the front porch of Lake Crescent Lodge. I was hoping I’d catch a rare Beardslee Trout, I just didn’t want to catch the very last one......
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Anderson Pass 2013

Anderson Pass 2013

I loved hiking over Anderson Pass in Olympic National Park. This three day journey has it all; lush lowland forests, subalpine terrain and a snow choked pass if you are crazy enough to hike it early in the spring. I appreciated the wilderness and the solitude, more so since early park planners had wanted to build a highway over Anderson Pass......
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Storm King Trail

Storm King Trail

For those wanting to summit a mountain in the Olympics without having to commit too much time to any one hike, Storm King Trail near Lake Crescent is a great option; short enough to complete in a morning or an afternoon, and physically demanding enough to make you feel like you really earned it once you’ve reached the incredible views of the lake and valley below.....
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The Enchanted Valley

The Enchanted Valley

My friend Donovan had been touting the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park to me for a couple of years. Donovan is a former park ranger and we serve together on the board of the Washington’s National Parks Fund. Finally we agreed on a date, which luckily, was during an unusually warm and sunny spell of early spring weather. I found the Enchanted Valley a combination of improbable beauty and interesting history. My favorite type of adventure!....
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Ski and Snowshoe on Hurricane Ridge

Ski and Snowshoe on Hurricane Ridge

The morning was sunny in Sequim so Trish and I set off for a day of outdoor adventure with our good friends, Joel and Lynn. We carefully drove the winding road up Mt. Angeles and parked at The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area. The ticket seller told us the Poma Lift wasn’t running because it needed a new cable.
Without the Poma Lift the diamond and double diamond trails were closed too. People were skiing at the rope tow, so Joel bought us four tickets and we carried our skis to the base of the slope.....
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Cabins of the Elwha River Valley 2013

Cabins of the Elwha River Valley 2013

We parked at the Whiskey Bend Trailhead at eight in the morning. It was 35 degrees, overcast, but blessedly there was no rain or snow falling. We were headed up the Elwha River Valley on a five-day, winter backpacking adventure.....
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Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

The trail to Cape Flattery is a short walk, but it may take you a while to get back to your car depending on how much time you spend staring at the sea.
My brother Mark traveled from New Hampshire to visit last autumn. Of course it rained the entire week – hard....
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Heather Park Trail

Heather Park Trail

Heather Park is a trail that gains almost 4,000 feet in elevation while giving you magnificent views of mountains, forest and sea for its entire length. Those benefits usually mean a difficult climb; unless you can drive up to top and hike the trail in reverse!...
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Anderson Glacier Bike and Hike

Anderson Glacier Bike and Hike

Anderson Glacier is a magnificent but isolated area of Olympic National Park. I've always wanted to backpack to Anderson Glacier, but the 34 mile round-trip translated to an extra two overnights on the trail for me, so for the sake of time I always chose a different backpacking adventure. That all changed when a park ranger told me that you can get to Anderson glacier in one day by bicycling along the washed-out Dosewallips River road ....
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A Novice Climbs Mt. Olympus

A Novice Climbs Mt. Olympus

Though I’ve backpacked on many wonderful trails and scrambled up my share of mountain peaks, until now I’ve never made a technical climb. A technical climb is a steep ascent on a carefully planned route using ropes, climbing boots with spikes, and other specialized gear. I’ve always felt a bit jealous of climbers I met on the trail, with their rakish attitude and dangerous looking equipment dangling from their backpacks. ......
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Dodger Point Legacy

Dodger Point Legacy

Mount Olympus and the Bailey Range loomed through the fog to the west and Hurricane Ridge appeared to the north across the Elwha Valley. Everywhere I looked mountains appeared through the clouds. It was obvious that I was not in New Jersey any more......
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>Constance Pass Backpacking Adventure

Constance Pass Backpacking Adventure

Constance Pass is a magnificent place deep in the Olympics, a perfect family backpacking adventure. My wife Trisha, college-aged children, Becca and Garrett and I planned a three-day journey.......
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>Marmot Pass Hike

Marmot Pass Hike

“Why did you choose this trail?” I asked a hiker who was lacing up his boot on the bumper of a car with California license plates. He said, “I read a guidebook. It said if for some terrible reason you’re allowed one hike in the Olympics in your lifetime, this one should be it.”......
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>Marmot Pass

Marmot Pass

What’s the pace of a 2 year old hiking up to Marmot Pass? 56 butterflies, 149 decimated ants, 62 rocks, 114 flowers and 2 chipmunks per hour. Haha!......
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Sol Duc Falls Hike

Sol Duc Falls Loop Hike

Threatening clouds floated overhead as my boyfriend Patrick, my father Bret, and I embarked on our day hike in the Olympic National Park. We had chosen a manageable six mile loop starting and ending at the historic Sol Duc hot springs.....
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>Plenty of places to picnic

Madison Falls Path and Picnic

If you are looking for an outing that combines a wheelchair access path, picnic area and a beautiful waterfall then Madison Falls in Olympic National Park is hard to beat. My elderly Mom was visiting us and she doesn’t walk much so this path was perfect......
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All together now

WHALES FROM AFAR

The day started on the tail end of a brisk sunny morning. The timing was early for some, standard for others. It was 8:00 AM. Employees from different departments mingled for the first time, blinking at each other and sipping coffee....
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Olympic Light

Upper Royal Basin an Amphitheatre of Snow

I toted my tele-skis up the Dungie main fork than on up the Royal Creek valley about 5 more miles in late July. With the extra bulk of ski boots, poles, and skis on my shoulders I caught many attentive hikers with thoughtful and bemused comments – like “goin to ski the glacier?”....
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>Return of the River

Return of the River

Olympic Peninsula photographer John Gussman says "Dam removal began on the Elwha River in mid-September 2011. Originally anticipated to be a two to three year process, removal proceeded quickly and by late spring 2012, the Elwha Dam was completely gone.......
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>Reclamation and Renewal on the Dosewallips

Reclamation and Renewal on the Dosewallips

This entry was from the 2011 Celebrate Elwha! Writers Contest. I think it’s a wonderful narrative and it makes me want to head right up the Dosewallips! – The Incidental Explorer.
Story and photos by Mary Ann Kae
If you crave solitude on a day hike, it’s not difficult to find in the Olympics if you can work the geography, weather and calendar to your advantage. ......
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>Whale Watching with Puget Sound Express

Whale Watching with Puget Sound Express

I arrived in Port Townsend for a day of whale watching with two friends and my friend’s dad. We had booked our trip with an experienced company, Puget Sound Express. After browsing through the whale-themed paraphernalia in their gift shop, .....
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>Protection Island Wildlife Cruise

Protection Island Wildlife Cruise

We awoke around nine in the morning, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then made the short drive down the road to the John Wayne Marina in Sequim. It was my pleasure to be a guest of the Wirtas.....
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>Goats Notes for Mt. Zion

Goats Notes for Mt. Zion

A large group gathered at the park and ride in Poulsbo. Some were headed to the Dungeness for a hike to Camp Handy or Boulder Shelter, but most were headed to Mt. Zion for an easy hike of about 5 miles round trip......
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>Hiking to Lillian Camp

Hiking to Lillian Camp

Lillian Camp is a lush camping area along a tumbling river. It’s a perfect day-hike in the spring when the high mountain passes are still choked with snow.......
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>Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent Lodge

Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent Lodge

We drove to Lake Crescent and pulled up to the Marymere trail parking lot, slightly tired from rising early and ready for a leisurely hike and lunch at Lake Crescent Lodge..........
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>Goats’ Notes Deer Ridge

Goats’ Notes Deer Ridge

With an eye on the weather, Karen, in her wisdom, called an audible, opting for Deer Park which would hopefully be in the mountain rain shadow, rather than our first choice, Tunnel Creek, further east and likely in the rain path........
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>Backpacking the Dungeness

Backpacking the Dungeness

Brian and I used the Memorial Day weekend to take a wee little backpacking adventure. I know usually when we go on outings like this, I just post pictures, but I’m going to try an be better about documenting the fun.........
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>Goats' Notes - Lower Big Quilcene

Goats' Notes - Lower Big Quilcene

It was to be another great day on the trail. After some recent snowy and steeper hikes, a longer, flatter hike was planned. Because the trailhead was so close to the Quilcene Ranger Station, two of the three carpool cars decided to take a scenic in and out drive towards the Upper Big Quil prior to starting .........
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>Goats’ Notes Mt. Townsend

Goats’ Notes Mt. Townsend

It was to be a great day, almost mid-summer like temperatures in the 70’s. The trailhead, even though heralded by other hikers earlier as not approchable due to ice was free and clear...........
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>Sleepy Hollow - Poor little Cinderella of a trail

Sleepy Hollow - Poor little Cinderella of a trail

It was a solid 8AM downpour and my hooded and hard-hat-ed hiking companions with shadowy faces showed the look of a long winter but I wasn’t about to scuttle the planning behind this trip – after all we’re on a scouting mission!........
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>GOATS’ NOTES TUNNEL CREEK

GOATS’ NOTES TUNNEL CREEK

The weather forecast for the Tunnel Creek area was much better than last week (40% chance of showers vs 100% chance of a “soaking rain”) so it was a go. The drive to the trailhead was uneventful........
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>Goat Notes Tubal Cain Trail

Goat Notes Tubal Cain Trail

A herd of Goats with diverse ambitions met in Poulsbo for the drive to Tubal Cain trailhead. Once there, some elected to try for Buckhorn Pass, while others settled for Tull Canyon, the plane wreckage, and the mine.......
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Select from latest Adventure videos!

North Fork Skokomish River

Olympic Discovery Trail

Bailey Range Traverse

Skyline Trail


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What is ExploreOlympics.com?

ExploreOlympics.com is a website of Olympic Peninsula adventure stories sprinkled with a dash of history and a bit of science. Let our stories, photos, maps and videos show you where to go and what to see. No expertise needed! The Olympic Peninsula is a magical mix of sea and mountains, farmland and forest, rivers and sky, so whether you’re planning a family backpacking trip or you’re an armchair traveler, our goal is to inform, inspire and entertain you.

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