Peaks and Paddles in Olympic National Park

Destination: Olympic National Park, Washington

| Activities: Hiking and Kayaking

Can't decide whether you prefer mountains or beach, boats or hiking? Experience all of these - and more - as we spend a week exploring the beauty of Olympic National Park. Olympic National Park, one of the gems of the Pacific Northwest, is beloved for its spectacular scenery and amazing array of ecosystems. Often referred to as "three parks in one," Olympic National Park encompasses miles of beach along the wild Pacific Coast, the towering peaks of the Olympic Mountains, and an incredible variety of old-growth and temperate rain forests. In August, it's one of the best places in the country to visit! The temperatures are pleasant, some wildflowers are still in bloom, and the usually omnipresent rain abates for a while. On this adventure, we'll use kayaks, rafts, and our feet as we sample the best the park has to offer. Maximum group size: 12


  • Hiking the astounding diversity that is Olympic National Park: sandy beaches and shore-side cliffs; giant trees in the ancient temperate rainforest; and snow-capped peaks and mountain lakes
  • Kayaking on Lake Crescent, a fjord-like lake, and also with the seals, seaweed, and saltwater in the Strait of Juan de Fuca
  • Relaxing to the sound of the crashing waves at the Quileute Oceanside Resort
  • Staying at a national park lodge that has welcomed guests since 1916


  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights double occupancy lodging
  • All meals from dinner on Saturday through lunch the following Saturday, except for one dinner
  • Guided kayaking trips in both fresh and saltwater
  • All transportation once you arrive at our hotel near the airport, including two ferry rides
  • What's not included: Travel to and from Seattle, alcoholic beverages, snacks, guide gratuities, one dinner and travel insurance.

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is rated a 3 and is at the upper level of that rating. The hikes range from range from 5-9 miles. The terrain is hilly, and the trail is uneven in sections. As each day usually includes 4 to 6 hours of activity and the variety of activities (e.g. hiking and kayaking) require a good all-around fitness level. Rating: 1 2 [3] 4 5

Olympic National Park is made up of diverse ecosystems, and we'll explore it in diverse ways: kayaking on a large lake and later in saltwater; and hiking in the Hoh River Rain Forest, the largest temperate rain forest in the U.S., and in the mountains around Grand Lake. Being comfortable in water is important; no experience is needed for any of these activities - we'll teach you what you need to know.

We spend the first night at a hotel by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (also referred to as Sea-Tac, SEA). Our hotel will have a free airport shuttle. Rooms have 2 queen beds and en-suite bathrooms.

The next 2 nights are at the historic Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park. Rooms will have 2 queen beds and en-suite bathrooms.

We will spend the next 2 nights right on the Coast at the Quileute Oceanside Resort. At this location we will have motel units with two beds, an ensuite bathroom, kitchens or kitchenettes, and an oceanside view.

The final 2 nights at a hotel in Port Angeles (Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles or similar). Rooms will have 2 queen beds and en-suite bathrooms.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our trip starts today at our hotel near the airport at 5:00 pm. We'll spend some time getting to know each other, then head out to dinner in one of Seattle's famous neighborhoods: Alki Beach. If it's clear, in one direction we can see downtown Seattle across Elliott Bay; in the other, we can see the Olympic Peninsula, our destination for the rest of the trip. After a stroll along the beach and dinner, we'll head back to our hotel to sleep and prepare for our adventure ahead. (D)
The day begins with one of the most quintessential northwest experiences: a ride on one of the Washington State Ferries. The ferries are one of the lifelines linking the Olympic Peninsula to the rest of the state, and often provide good views of the Puget Sound and Cascade and Olympic Mountains. After the ferry, another hour and a half by van brings us to our destination, Lake Crescent. Once we’ve had a picnic lunch, we’ll don our wetsuits for an afternoon paddle. This area is perfect for beginners and more experienced paddlers too. Lake Crescent is a deep glacier-carved lake known for its brilliant blue waters and exceptional clarity, caused by a lack of nitrogen in the water which inhibits the growth of algae. The official depth of the lake is 624 ft! It has captured the imaginations of many - including President Franklin Roosevelt, who was so enamored of the area that he was inspired to establish the national park in 1938. If weather conditions permit we will paddle on the north side of the lake, to "Devils Punch Bowl", a popular swimming and diving area. (B, L, D)
This morning we will visit Glines Canyon, a great spot to understand the recent changes to the Elwha Dam removal and restoration project. Two dams were built on the Elwha river in 1913 and 1927 respectively. Without fish ladders the dams quickly decimated what had been a prosperous salmon run. After decades of mounting environmental concerns, along with inefficiencies that came from being older dams, Congress authorized their removal in 1992. In the last couple of years, after 20 years of study, planning, and partnerships between numerous groups, the dams finally came down, with the removal of the second one completed in 2014. We will hike to Goblin Gates - a dramatic set of rocky outcroppings that constrict the Elwha's swift waters. This wilder section of the river is above the two old dams and gives a sense of what the Elwha was like before the dams were installed. There will be a couple of hiking options after enjoying your lunch along the river. Once back at the Lodge, we'll enjoy dinner in the old dining room, and have the evening to do as we please - stroll along the shore, chat with new friends, or curl up with a good book in an Adirondack chair by the lake. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we say goodbye to the lodge and head for the western side of the park where we’ll find a different ecosystem, full of coastal beaches and copious rain. Today's hike to Third Beach is a classic Olympic beach trail and begins with a 1.3 mile hike through relatively open (for the Pacific Northwest) forest. A short, somewhat steep descent brings us to the beach along Strawberry Bay, a long, grey-sand expanse bounded by steep headlands at each end. As we walk to the south end of the beach, we get a better view of off-shore sea stacks, which are unique stand alone vertical formations carved out from wave erosion. For more adventure, we'll climb up and over Taylor Point to the next beach south. Climbing over headlands is always an interesting scramble, and Taylor Point is no exception; our ascent will have us using well-placed ropes (for a helping hand up steep slopes) and giant cable ladders (picture a cross between stairs and a ladder). Once up top, we'll traverse 1.2 miles through the forest, paying particular attention to the rooty, ankle-twisty sections; steep steps bring us down to the shore on the other side. If the tide is in, we'll use ropes again to go over a final small headland to a bigger beach. While the trails in the park are usually busy during the summer months, this beach is often less populated, and gives us the chance to admire the flora and fauna, maybe even see an otter! For the next two nights we'll stay at the Quileute Oceanside Resort just north of Forks. Owned by the Quileute Tribe, this area has been their home for over 1,000 years and the Resort is located on their private beach. Hiking distances: Beach only: 3.6-4.6 miles, 300' gain. Beach and Taylor Point: 6 sometimes-rugged miles, 550' gain. (B, L, D)
The temperate rain forests of the Hoh River valley are a grandiose, almost meditative counterpoint to yesterday's cliff scrambling and ocean waves. As the miles go by on this flat, out-and-back hike through a riverside forest, we’ll enjoy walking among giants; sitka spruces, cedars, and maples. Then, the little details start to catch our eyes; mosses draped over huge branches. Red huckleberries juxtapose decaying nurse logs amid armies of sword ferns. You can go as far as you like today; the riverside near the junction with the Mount Tom trail (3 miles in) or the grove of massive cedars at Cougar Creek (4 miles in) both provide natural turn-around points. Hiking distance: 3-4 miles round trip. (B, L, D)
Today we leave the damp west side of the park behind and head back to the north side. While today's adventure isn't in the park itself, no visit to this area would be complete without exploring the saltwater shores along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We'll explore Freshwater Bay by kayak and depending on conditions, we may head east to the mouth of the Elwha River, where we can take in a new beach that's being formed from years of dammed-up sediment. Or, we might paddle west, along rocky shores and cliffs. Either way, we'll catch a glimpse of the saltwater soul of this area, complete with kelp forests and rocky intertidal areas teeming with marine life. If we're lucky, we might even see sea lions, seals, otters, or bald eagles as we glide across the green-blue bay. Tonight we head to Port Angeles, the small city sandwiched between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This city, a gateway to the park and to Canada (via the ferry to Victoria), will serve as our home for the last two nights of the trip. Paddling distance: 6-8 miles (B, L, D)
Our last day in the park brings us to new heights, literally and figuratively. After breakfast, we'll drive up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, which gives us a great first view into the heart of the mountains. From here, the views keep getting better as we drive another 8 miles along a ridge-top gravel road to reach the Obstruction Point trailhead; at 6100', we'll feel like we're on top of the world! Our hike starts with a gradual climb above tree-line along Obstruction Ridge, with breathtaking mountain views, wildflowers, and the occasional snowy patch along the way. From a high point of 6500', the trail drops 1700' in 2.5 miles down into Grand Valley. The reward for this steep descent is Grand Lake, a beautiful mountain lake nestled in a giant bowl. Another half mile brings us to Moose Lake, which is perhaps even grander; sharp Olympic peaks provide a spectacular backdrop to this gem of an alpine lake. We'll linger here as long as we can before we begin the climb back out. Along the way, we might hear the call of the endemic Olympic marmot while we soak up the beautiful views in every direction. Hiking distance: 8 - 9 miles, 1700' of gain. (B, L, D)
Our journey home begins with another drive to a ferry, this time one that will bring us into downtown Seattle. Depending on ferry lines, we may have time to explore the charming town of Winslow (and get treats from the renowned Blackbird Bakery) while we wait. As we cross Puget Sound, if it's clear we can see the Olympic Mountains - and where we just hiked - from a whole new perspective. We'll finish with lunch in the ever-popular Pike Place Market, a favorite Seattle destination of locals and tourists alike. Pike Place Market has been a farmer's market since 1907, and today boasts 190 craftspeople and 100 farmers, along with more than 200 businesses - including the original Starbucks. With great views of the water and Olympics, and fresh local food, we'll celebrate our adventure together before we say our final farewells. If you want to stay and explore more of what Seattle and this area has to offer, you are welcome to depart after lunch (around 2 pm). We'll be within easy walking distance of many city bus routes and light rail to the train station and airport. Otherwise, we can have you to Sea-Tac airport by 3 pm; since summer Saturdays are busy with departing cruise passengers at Sea-Tac, we recommend you plan your flights for 5 pm or later.


(28 reviews)
4.5 Food
4.1 Lodging
4.8 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Lois P.
3 years ago

Katie B.
3 years ago

Lois P.
3 years ago

Yes. It was my first trip with AGC and I will be going on other trips. The guides were great. The other women were great. I was comfortable spending time with everyone. I was glad I was able to be in the slow hiking group so I didn't slow anyone down. The best hike was to Obstruction Point. Mountains are my favorite.

Kristin K.
3 years ago

I did not like the overnight in Forks. The accommodations were lacking, no air conditioning , holes in window screen, no glasses or eating utensils. I think this stop should be replaced. There is no charm to this town. Everyone is over the Twilight movies. The hike to the dam was a waste since path washed out or what ever. Wasted day.

Barbara R.
3 years ago

I signed on to this trip in large part to travel with a friend. I am not a kayaker (she is), but I was excited to hike in a national park I had not yet visited. Although the beach day hike wiped me out, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment having finished it. I also loved hiking at altitude with the fabulous views of the Olympics. I did not commit to doing this hike in its entirety because I wanted to get a look at the descent to the lakes before making a decision. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication here as the group split into two well before the descent was reached. I confess to a little disappointment; however, in retrospect, I'm not sure I could have kept up with the pace given the ground that had to be covered.

Linda K.
3 years ago

I enjoyed the variety of the hikes and also the kayaking that was included.

Maya L.
3 years ago

Excellent leaders, very nice group of women, varied itinerary.

Sarah K.
3 years ago

Good variety of activities. Good accommodations and food. Great guides

Lori K.
3 years ago

Third beach and Hurricane Ridge to Moose Lake hikes.

Bonny M.
5 years ago

Scenery and activity level. Did not expect to love kayaking so much! I went for the hiking and also found a new activity.

Sheila B.
5 years ago

I loved the meals together, the guides were amazing and full of knowledge! I always felt safe. The beautiful hikes in the rainforest and down to beach! We could have kayaked longer on Lake Crescent, I felt. The bay kayaking was a blast and we felt we were in qualified kayaking hands with Liz and Stephanie. We had one day where it was a little slow, but we probably needed the slow!

Ysela L.
5 years ago

Location and itinerary were best. A whale watching day would have enjoyed if it had been included but may to extend trip time to do that. I enjoyed the number of hikes planned. Wished the ocean kayaking day had been a full day of kayaking. Accommodations in Forks,WA were lacking. I did not complain directly to my guide because honestly the company outweighed the lacking accommodations but they were really lacking. Bathroom floor was sunken due to a prior leak. The travel times between the locations was a bit of a bummer but I don't think that could be avoided. Thats why we had to be ready by 7:30 each morning. The diversity of the hikes was the BEST.

Carol F.
5 years ago

The hikes were the highlight of the trip for me - I loved hiking through the Douglas Fir forests, the mountains and to the ocean. The hikes were challenging and gave me a feeling of accomplishment when I finished them. The kayaking was also fun and I must admit that the accommodations and food well exceeded my expectations. The guides took very good care of us and made the trip fun - they even baked us a wild blackberry pie!

Ginger W.
5 years ago

The weather far exceeded my expectations: I expected dreary, rainy weather -- all we had was sunshine! The food (from restaurants and from the guides) was very good. Nice selection; all healthy. The Lake Crescent Lodge was terrific, the Red Lion Inn was very nice. The Olympic Suites Inn at Fork was a disappointment in terms of condition of the room, but the size and amenities were good (nice to have a kitchen).

Michelle K.
5 years ago

The variety of environments was wonderful. On the coast hiking one day, and then later in the week in the mountains.

Maryjane L.
5 years ago

The hikes seemed harder than other trips I have taken that were rated the same. I was uncomfortable either the fast pace, leaving very little time to appreciate the surroundings.

Karen I.
5 years ago

Challenging pace of activities, but not overwhelming. Good company. Great guides.

Lisa H.
5 years ago

The beautiful scenery, the diverse hikes and kayaking, and fabulous guides.

Barbara C.
6 years ago

Beautiful part of the country. Hiking was challenging but not overwhelming.

Lois C.
6 years ago

Highlights include the first night's dinner at Alki Beach, ride on Washington State Ferry, late afternoon visit to Hurricane Ridge, and hike to Strawberry Beach. Also, Olympic Raft

Julie B.
6 years ago

I really enjoyed having the local guide that knew the local fauna and flora. I also liked the variety of the trip.

Gwen E.
6 years ago

The hikes, just challenging enough! I was disappointed to miss the rafting, but I totally understand conditions.

Jane B.
6 years ago

The outdoors and the hikes were terrific. The group size required long waits and large vehicles.

Norine M.
6 years ago

It was an incredibly diverse trip. It could not have been better!

Colleen B.
6 years ago

The beach hike was great.

Christy D.
6 years ago

Where do I begin. The guides were great. All had excellent knowledge of the area and were very easy going. The weather was great. The hiking and kayaking had awesome views. There worst part was knowing I had to leave and go back to work!

Joanne F.
6 years ago

Highlights were: Crescent Lake Lodge hiking to sue and point guides amazing guides were both incredibly competent no idea they had never met -- they worked really well together, very profession. Every step of way they were taking care of us -- everything. There is always one in every group that doesn't fit in but did not happen on this trip -- wonderful levels. Kayaking was highlight for me -- many others liked the hiking more.

Susan G.
6 years ago

  1. Where do we eat?

    Most breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. The guides will cook meals during the time you are in Forks. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch or occasionally lunch will be picnic style.
    1. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

      We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant if we know well in advance. Although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, ie. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
    2. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

      You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
    3. I have never kayaked before, is this the right trip for me?

      This is the perfect trip for new and more experienced kayakers who are comfortable in water. The first day there will be instruction on safety and basic kayaking strokes. The guides are experienced kayak instructors and will teach you everything you need to know.