Update: Highway 101 reopening likely pushed back to Friday (9/15) at 6:00 PM.
Highway 101 will be closed around Lake Crescent beginning today (Sept 11) at 6:00 AM and is scheduled to remain closed until Thursday evening (Sept 14) at 6:00 PM, as announced by Olympic National Park. Although this is disappointing and inconvenient for travelers planning on exploring the Lake Crescent and Sol Duc regions, many of the Olympic Peninsula's most iconic destinations are readily accessible. Here are five amazing areas to consider exploring during the four-day closure:
September is arguably the best time of year to visit Hurricane Ridge and the sub-alpine region of Olympic National Park as it is the most snow-free it will be all year after the summer melt. There are hikes for all ages and abilities in the Hurricane Ridge region. Hurricane Hill and the Visitor Center hiking trails are great for hikers of all skill levels. Those looking for more of a challenge and a longer day hike should look into Lake Angeles or Klahhane Ridge. Obstruction Point is the ultimate launching point for multinight backpacking in the park if you are confident on an 8 mile gravel road drive (ONP Wilderness Permit required).
By taking Highway 112 and Highway 113 from Port Angeles, you only add 20-30 minutes to your drive when visiting the West End, compared to the traditional route via Highway 101. Thus, the Hoh Rain Forest should definitely stay on your trip itinerary! The Hall of Mosses (0.75 mi) and Spruce Nature Trail (1.25 mi) are well-maintained, flat nature loops with some of the best views you can find in the Hoh Rain Forest. Of course, those wanting the multi-night backpacking experience should consider the 17 mile (one-way) Hoh River Trail with many hike-in camping options along the way (ONP Wilderness Permit required).
Similarly, the Highway 112 & 113 detour also only adds 20-30 minutes for your drive time for a visit to La Push, Ruby Beach, or Kalaloch on the Pacific Coast. This is a great addition to a daytrip itinerary on the west end if you plan on visiting the Hoh Rain Forest. Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach, and Kalaloch provide drive-up access, while Second Beach and Third Beach are accessible via beautiful coastal forest hiking trails (both less than 2 miles).
With Highway 101 closed, now is the perfect time to make the Highway 112 drive from Port Angeles to the northwest corner of Washington State. Better yet, hike the Cape Flattery Trail to the most northwest point of the contiguous United States! This 1 mile boardwalk trail is a bucket list experience leading you to viewpoints of coastal coves, crashing waves, and the rugged coastline, eventually leading you as far northwest as you can possibly walk! For backpackers, Shi Shi Beach is one of the iconic coastal backpacking experiences in the Pacific Northwest (ONP Wilderness Permit required). Or you can hike to Point of the Arches (8 mi roundtrip) in a day hike during low-tide. A Makah Recreation Pass is required for any visit on the Makah Reservation, which you can pick up in Neah Bay, WA.
This is another Highway 112 icon and is often overlooked due to its one-way in, one-way out access. Now that Highway 112 is a primary route for adventures, definitely consider visiting the Ozette Coast. You can hike on the forested boardwalk trails to Cape Alava (3.0 mi), Sand Point (3.1 mi), or complete the entire Ozette Triangle (9.2 mi) adding 3.1 miles of coastal hiking on the rocky beach terrain. Please note this is only feasible during low tide! If you would rather make the most of your trek to Ozette, consider doing an overnight backpack (ONP Wilderness Permit required).
If you would rather not worry about the detour routes, researching the right permits, or finding the correct trailhead, please consider us for a private hiking tour! We'd be happy to outsource the planning process for you and your group.
Happy adventures everyone!