Arriving in Forks, Washington, a small logging town which also happens to be the setting for the Twilight books and movies, we immediately witnessed the town’s earnest efforts to capitalize on the Twilight craze.
It was a surreal experience. Vampires and werewolves unseen in the background. Brilliant rivers and lakes, verdant meadows, towering trees, rugged peaks, and a wild coastline. And then there were the various forests: lowland, montane and subalpine.
Our route from La Conner included a ferry, Island Girl’s first ferry this summer, but definitely not her last. The ferry shortened our route by at least half and the total cost was less than the cost of gas for driving the long way around the south end of Puget Sound.The ferry departed from Coupeville on Whidbey Island and arrived in Port Townsend, a lovely town known for its many Victorian buildings.
This is logging country and there was lots of evidence of it – huge logging trucks, the Timber Museum in Forks and signs designating years for logging of specific plots of forest.
Olympic National Park protects 922,651 acres in the Olympic Peninsula and a diversity of wildlife. Home to eight American Indian tribes, the park is also a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.
Our first stop was in the Hoh Rainforest for a short hike. It was strange to be in a rainforest on a clear, sunny day, but this was the dry season. Still, it was a lush forest with giant spruce and hemlock trees, and alders and maples covered in moss.
Angel came along on a tour of the Quinault Rainforest, which allows doggies on its trails on the south side, the national forest side. Unlike the Hoh Rainforest which is entirely in the national park.
Our tour was a loop around Lake Quinault and a section of the Quinault River, where we had a picnic lunch. Then we hiked around a couple of waterfalls on the south side of the loop: the 60′ Bunch Creek Falls and the 40′ high Merriman Falls. A very peaceful and seemingly less traveled part of the park.
And we just had to visit the mountains. Hurricane Ridge, at 5,200 feet, offers a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island.
A nineteen-mile road climbs 5,000 feet from the town of Port Angeles to a visitor center, picnic areas and trails. Angel was with us so we were confined to developed areas.
Wildflowers framed the road and black-tailed deer were everywhere.
Particularly fun were two adorable fawns frolicking with each other (and their dad?) in a meadow. With mom camouflaged in the grass.
We found a quiet picnic area away from the visitor center and the crowds, where black tailed deer walked among the picnic tables, seemingly unafraid of humans (which I guess is ok in a protected area). Angel first met deer in Colorado, but they always get her attention.
After basking in the beautiful views and enjoying watching a sleeping deer on top of Hurricane Ridge, we continued on a narrow gravel road with sections of shelf road that climbed another 1,000 feet. Where there were even more wildflowers and some cute marmots. We love marmots!
The inland section of Olympic National Park is beautiful but some of the best was yet to come: the coast.