Olympic Discovery Trail in Washington

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Olympic Discovery Trail

Stretching between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the paved Olympic Discovery Trail – when completed – will traverse 126 miles of Olympic Peninsula lowlands, providing an excellent way to explore the national park and its surrounding areas. Read More

  • Completed portion is paved asphalt that’s easy to hike or bike, so it’s great for all ages and skill levels. 
  • Provides a chance to visit 4 major towns on the Peninsula: Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. 
  • Traverses both Olympic National Park and Sequim Bay State Park as well as tribal lands 
  • Accommodates bicycles and horseback riders as well

Why should I hike the Olympic Discovery Trail?

Thus far, 40 miles of paved trail are completed on this ambitious project. The largest paved section connects Blyn on Sequim Bay with the cities of Sequim and Port Angeles to the west. Six additional miles of completed trail run south from Port Townsend. Though parts of the trail are currently on local roadways or highways, it’s a relatively safe walk and an easy one as well, with rarely more than a 10 percent grade along most of the pathway. The highest point on the eastern half is 400 feet and the high point on the western portion reaches 1,100 feet.

Olympic Discovery Trail also provides a good sampling of what there is to see and do on the Olympic Peninsula. If you were to walk the entire 126 miles, you’d visit 4 towns and 2 counties as well as Olympic National Park and Sequim Bay State Park, and you’d also traverse some Native American tribal jurisdictions. As you make your way from east to west (or vice versa) the terrain varies as well, giving hikers a good look at the various ecosystems contained within the peninsula.

Equestrians and bicycles are welcome on the trail as well and, in fact, this is a very popular trail with those who love to ride both horses and bicycles. Joggers and roller bladers also enjoy the trail, so be prepared to share the path and make way for those going faster than you if you’re walking.

Where is the trailhead?

There are currently 3 supported trailheads and more will be added as the trail is completed. Hikers can access the trail at the Port Townsend Boat Haven, one mile south of the city center; in Cape George on Cape George Road, about .6 miles west of Discovery Road; and at the Blyn Pullout on Highway 101 at the foot of Sequim Bay.

What can I expect? 

  • Distance: 126 miles; currently 40 paved miles are complete 
  • Average Time of Hike: about a week if you were to walk the entire length. 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet (if you make it all the way to the western portion of the trail) 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Trail Type: one way

Any suggestions on planning and preparing for this trail?

Because this trail makes its way through towns and cities, there are plenty of places to stop for meals, bathroom visits, etc. It’s always a good idea, however, to bring water. Since the trail is not yet completed, mileage is not uniformly measured at this point, so it’s a good idea to keep a trail map handy. Also due to the incomplete nature of the trail, it’s not unusual for routes to change from time to time as temporary portions become permanent. That’s another good reason to carry a map. In addition, you will find yourself on some busy roads until the trail is finished, so exercise caution, especially if you’re hiking with children.

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