Olympic National Forest in Washington

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Olympic National Forest

Covering 633,600 acres, the Olympic National Forest surrounds a sizeable portion of Olympic National Park and its diverse ecosystems provide opportunities to enjoy a large variety of recreational activities.

  • Choose from among 250 miles of hiking and backing trails 
  • Select one of 40 trails available for horseback riding 
  • Camp at one of dozens of campground’s in and near the forest 
  • Go cross country skiing or snowshoeing during the winter months 
  • Go fresh or saltwater fishing in the forest’s many bodies of water

What can I see and do in Olympic National Forest? 

  • Hiking/Backpacking: There are literally dozens of trails inside the Olympic National Forest, some suitable for day hikes and others that necessitate backpacking. Of the 250 miles of trails, at least half of them are accessible all year long. There are also 8 interpretive nature trails that can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. 
  • Fishing: Because the forest is full of waterways, there’s a variety of options for anglers, including lake and pond fishing, river and stream fishing, and a few saltwater fishing areas. Most fishermen come here to catch salmon and steelhead but you’ll also find a variety of trout and some warm-water species as well. 
  • Mountain Biking: Many, many routes are open to mountain bikers ranging from gravel roads for novice riders to some very challenging and steep terrain for those who are experienced. Many trails are open during spring, summer, and fall for nearly year-round riding. 
  • Horseback Riding: There are about 40 trails within the Olympic National Forest Washington that are accessible to equestrians. The ideal time to ride is from late spring to early fall. 
  • Non-motorized Boating: There are a handful of areas within the forest that are suitable for small sailboats and other non-motorized watercraft. Check with the ranger station for specifics. 
  • Swimming: Many of the waterways in the national forest are not suitable for swimming, but you will find areas near several of the campgrounds where it’s okay to take a dip, such as those near Lake Quinault or Lena Lake. 
  • Hunting: Hunting is allowed in some portions of the park. Hunting season and the regulations that accompany hunting in the forest are determined by the state. Contact the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife for specifics. 
  • Scenic Driving Tours: The best way to see large portions of the forest is to drive Highway 101 all the way around the Olympic National Park. There’s also a scenic drive around Lake Quinault and two Hood Canal auto tours that are quite lovely. 
  • Winter Recreation: Some trails within the Olympic National Forest are suitable for cross-country skiing and/or snowshoeing. Accessibility changes with the weather, so winter athletes should always check with the forest ranger’s office before setting out. 
  • Camping: The campgrounds within Olympic National Forest are too numerous to count. You’ll find all sorts of options here, from hike-in or boat-in sites to less-primitive campgrounds that accommodate sizeable RVs. In the Hood Canal Ranger District and near Lake Quinault, there are also cabins.

Where is Olympic National Forest?

Because the forest covers a good portion of Olympic National Park and the peninsula in general, there are dozens of points from which you can access it. Contact the National Forest Ranger’s office or the National Park Service for a map of the forest. Remember, 14 percent of the forest is un-roaded so there are areas you can only access on foot.

How much does Olympic National Forest cost?

It’s free, but you will have to pay to enter the National Park.

Who can I call if I have more questions?

For more information, contact the US Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service at its Olympia office at 360-956-2402.

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