Ridges, Rivers, Rainforest, and Waves in Olympic National Park, Washington

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13243A, Lodge


  • Hike in a different ecosystem each day with a naturalist guide
  • Enjoy the spectacular lakeside of a historic lodge
  • Experience the wonders of the Olympic National Park trails


  • All meals and accommodations at Rosemary Inn
  • Transportation to trailheads and all park fees
  • Soak in a hot springs and walk on a beach


DatesAug 11–16, 2013
StaffAnn Daigle

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Come join us for an adventure of hiking with others each day in the amazing Olympic National Park. Your experienced Sierra Club leaders and an Olympic Park Institute naturalist will help guide you through the day's activities. We will be staying on the shores of beautiful Lake Crescent at historic Rosemary Inn. After breakfast we will take daily hiking tours into the park. We'll return each afternoon to Rosemary Inn, Nature/Bridge, where we will have time to relax, go for walks, eat dinner, and share evening programs of speakers and campfires by the lake.

Olympic National Park in northwestern Washington State has been designated as both an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage site. These designations acknowledge the valuable diversity of the park's natural wonders. This area is home to both freshwater and saltwater beaches, rivers and lakes, mountains and glaciers, valley streams and waterfalls, rare temperate rainforests, and hot springs. The park encompasses two parts of the Olympic Peninsula, the interior mountains, and the coastal strip, and is 95% wilderness. Though rugged, the Olympic Mountains are all less than 8,000 feet in elevation, so we do not have to acclimate to high altitudes. The park has a great trail system for our access to the wilderness.


The trip will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 11. We will meet at the Rosemary Inn-Nature/Bridge, west of Port Angeles, Washington. After getting acquainted, we'll take our first hike or a canoe ride on Lake Crescent. Following this afternoon activity, we will check in at Rosemary Inn by 5 p.m. Dinner will be at 6 p.m. The trip will end around 2 p.m. on Friday, August 16. Transportation to trailheads will be provided each day in a minibus.

After breakfast we will travel by minibus with our naturalist to go hiking in the Hoh Rain Forest, on Hurricane Ridge, through the Sol duc Valley (with a swim in the hot springs at the end of the day), to Rialto Beach, to Marymere Falls, and into the Elwha River Valley. These plans aren't set in stone though. Each day the leader and naturalist will determine which hike to do, taking into account the weather, the needs of the participants, and the tide schedules.

Guest speakers will be invited to join us for evening talks. If schedules permit, we may have a S'Klallam Elder storyteller and a National Park ranger-led discussion on the Elwha Dam removal project.  We also plan to have evening campfires by the lake.



Getting There

Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula is the closest town and is about a 30-minute drive to Rosemary Inn-Nature/Bridge on Lake Crescent. The nearest large airport is Seattle-Tacoma, across Puget Sound from the Olympic Peninsula. SeaTac airport is approximately 3.5 hours by car from Lake Crescent. Those arriving by car may use ferries from the Seattle area or from Victoria, British Columbia. Commercial shuttle services may be taken from SeaTac airport to Port Angeles. A small airport in Port Angeles has regular connections to SeaTac.

From Port Angeles a local taxi is available to Rosemary Inn. Carpooling and taxi sharing is encouraged. The trip leader will send all participants a list of others coming on the outing, along with their contact information so that they may form carpools or make other arrangements to travel together and thereby reduce costs.

Accommodations and Food

We will stay at Rosemary Inn, a part of Nature/Bridge. The inn is on the National Registry of Historic Sites. We will be staying in simple cabins with six rooms. Each room will accommodate two people. The cabins all have toilets and sinks in their buildings. There is an additional modern bathhouse/shower facilities in a separate, nearby building. Sheets, blankets, and pillows will be supplied. You must bring your own towels.

We'll eat in the dining room of the main lodge. Vegetarian and special diets can be accommodated if you let us know in advance. The first meal at Rosemary Inn will be dinner on day one and the last meal will be a sack lunch on the final day of the trip. The meals are served buffet style. After breakfast we will pack a sack lunch for the day, and be ready for departure to our day's hike. We will return to the Inn each day for dinner at 6:00 p.m. Because Rosemary Inn provides accommodations to a variety of groups, others may be there during our stay.

Rosemary Inn is on the south shore of Lake Crescent, within Olympic National Park. The environment around Rosemary Inn is truly magnificent, with a beautiful waterfront, an old-growth forest on the grounds, and a spectacular alpine view across the water. The sunsets on the lake are breathtaking.

Trip Difficulty

Day hikes are moderate in difficulty and will range from five to ten miles in distance, with up to 1,600-foot gains and losses. The hikes are generally on well-maintained trails or on sandy, rocky beaches. You should be in good physical condition and able to hike all day, every day, while carrying a daypack. We might encounter mixed weather, from cool, rainy days to lovely, summer warmth. The principal criteria for acceptance on this trip are physical and cardiovascular fitness and an open attitude toward moderately challenging group hikes. A regular fitness program including hiking with some degree of hill climbing is beneficial. Minimum age is 18.

Equipment and Clothing

You will need a sturdy daypack, good wet-weather gear, two water bottles, quality broken-in hiking boots, warm fleece tops or sweaters, clothing to layer for different weather needs, sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat to bring with you on the hikes.

The leader will send a more detailed equipment list to registered participants.



  • National Geographic Map: Trails Illustrated Map #216, Olympic National Park
  • Olympic National Park-National Park Service


  • Warren, Henry C., Olympic: The Story Behind the Scenery.
  • Wood, Robert L., The Land that Slept Late.
  • Wood, Robert L., Olympic Mountains Trail Guide.
  • Molvar, Erik: Hiking Olympic National Park.
  • McNulty, Tim: Olympic National Park - A Natural History.
  • Romano, Craig: Day Hiking, Olympic Peninsula.



Sierra Club outings were started by John Muir in 1901. Muir wrote "If people could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish." Our wish is that on this outing you share our belief in the need to protect our wild areas. We will be practicing Leave No Trace wilderness etiquette throughout our trip in order to minimize our impact on the environment.

Nature/Bridge is a great example of environmental stewardship. They built their campus with sustainability as a priority, focusing on "green" practices such as: composting, using recycled materials wherever possible, salvaging wood for use in their buildings, and using low-flow toilets and showerheads as well as high-efficiency lighting and heating.

The harvesting of old-growth and surrounding forests has sparked controversy throughout the Pacific Northwest. We'll also discuss saving the salmon, and dam removal on the rivers. All are complex issues, involving jobs and the clash between traditional ways of life and ecosystem protection for many species, including endangered mammals and birds. The Elwha is the Olympic Peninsula's largest watershed, and prior to the construction of two dams in the early 1900s, it was known for its impressive salmon returns. Today, the Elwha River is the site of one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects in National Park Service history. Removal of two dams on the Elwha River will restore the river to its natural free-flowing state, allowing all five species of Pacific salmon and other anadromous fish to once again reach habitat and spawning grounds.

The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.



Ann Daigle has led outings for many years in the Northwest, Southwest and Rocky Mountains. Leading several trips a year, she is an avid hiker and backpacker and loves sharing her passion of the wilderness trails with all who will join her. Ann and her family live in the Pacific Northwest on a small ranch. When not on the trails she spends her time out of doors caring for their many adopted animal pets, trails, and gardens. Please contact her if you have questions about this trip.

Assistant Leader:

Betty Connor has enjoyed a lifetime of experiences outdoors. She has led many trips in Alaska, one in Ecuador and most recently as an assistant leader for the Sierra Club. For 27 years she camped, kayaked, canoed, hiked, fished, snow-shoed, and skied in Alaska. As biology and marine biology teacher, Betty has spent years learning about, teaching about, and loving the outdoors. She is an environmental activist with the WSU Beach Watchers and Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group involved in salmon stream restoration and research in Washington state.

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