I hadn’t visited the Olympic Peninsula much until recently. Since I had dogs and much of the region is a national park, I just assumed that it didn’t make sense to plant a trip. However, after traveling there twice with my pal Jessica for both a road trip and a backpacking trip, I realized how many dog-friendly activities there are on the Olympic Peninsula.
I partnered with Hotels.com to bring you this dog-friendly guide to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Dogs and Olympic National Park
Like most national parks, pet access to the trails is very limited, usually reserved to short paved trails, campgrounds, and inside the car.
Dogs are allowed on the following trails and beaches:
- Peabody Creek Trail (Port Angeles)
- The ½ mile trail from the Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek
- The beaches between the Hoh and the Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch, see below)
- Madison Falls Trail (¼ mile, paved trail)
- Spruce Railroad Trail (Lake Crescent, see below)
- July Creek Loop Trail (Lake Quinault, see “Lake Quinault Loop Trail below)
If you do choose to bring your pet to Olympic National Park, keep them on a 6ft leash at all times and always pick up their poop.
Your dog can become a BARK Ranger and earn a badge at the Kalaloch Ranger Station. The program was created to help pet owners remember the rules of pets in the national parks.
The Dog-Friendly Olympic National Forest
The Olympic National Forest includes over 250 miles of trails, all of which allow dogs. The National Forest mostly surrounds the southeastern part of the Peninsula, with a small section located in between Port Angeles and Forks.
Hiking in the Buckthorn Wilderness will give you some of the best views of Olympic National Park, in fact, some trails lead right up to the boundary, where you’ll have to stop hiking with your dog.
Make sure you have a Northwest Forest Pass before you go.
Dog-Friendly Hotels in the Olympic Peninsula
Most hotels are located on the southern side of the Peninsula, as there is very little development in and around the National Park, especially on the northeastern tip. There are plenty of options for dog-friendly hotels that fall within any budget.
Since travel today looks a bit different from normal, I encourage you to keep your safety and the safety of others in mind. Please travel responsibly.
If you do decide to travel during the pandemic, here is how I recommend doing so safely:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands regularly
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses.
- Fill up with gas before you leave
- Bring your own food and limit trips to local shops
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans
Pet-friendly Hotel Chains in the Olympic Peninsula
- Quality Inn & Suites at Olympic National Park Sequim
- Super 8 Port Angeles
- Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles
- Red Lion Inn & Suites Sequim
Independent Dog-Friendly Hotels in the Olympic Peninsula
- Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort (outside Port Angeles)
- Olympic View Inn (Sequim)
- Lake Quinault Lodge (Quinault)
- Olympic Suites Inn (Forks)
Dog-Friendly Camping in the Olympic Peninsula
Dogs are welcome in most campgrounds located within the Olympic National Park, however, keep in mind that this does not mean that they are allowed to venture much further once you leave the campground.
If you want to camp with your dogs, then choose spots located near the hikes and beaches listed above. Here are a few suggestions:
Dog-Friendly Hikes in the Olympic Peninsula
I was very pleasantly surprised by the dog-friendly hikes in the Olympic Peninsula. I got to experience the rainforest, albeit not the famous Hoh, snow-capped mountain peaks, and beautiful beaches.
Here are a few favorites from my recent visits:
Quinault Loop Trail
Locally known as the Rain Forest Nature Trail, this easy 3.8-mile loop is your opportunity for dog-toting folks to experience the rainforest. And don’t think because this isn’t the Hoh that it’s not beautiful.
The trail is coated in green from mosses, ferns, and other foliage. The trail follows old-growth forest before turning past Cascade Falls toward the beautiful Quinault Lake shoreline.
World’s Largest Spruce Tree
Did you know that Sitka is named after a Sitka Spruce tree? It’s not the Big Spruce of the Olympic Peninsula, but naturally, we had to go visit this tree!
Not far from the Quinault Loop Trail lives the Big Spruce Tree. With 922 American Forestry Association (AFA) points, this tree claims to be the World’s Largest Spruce. The Giant Sitka Spruce tree stands 191 feet high, with a circumference of 58 feet, 11 inches. The tree is estimated to be over 1,000 years old.
To see the tree, it’s just a short walk along a trail just off of South Shore Road in Lake Quinault.
Spruce Railroad Trail
This easy trail follows the historic Spruce Railroad, which was built in 1918 and abandoned in 1951. The National Park Service turned the railroad into a scenic trail and it is now part of the 134-mile Olympic Discovery Trail, which will connect Port Townsend to La Push.
This four-mile hike skirts the shore of Lake Crescent and features wooded areas, beach access points, and viewpoints of the lake from cliffs above the shore. Just one mile in, you reach Punchbowl Falls, an emerald green pool seen from the bridge that crosses directly over.
The trail is under construction to finish an additional mile to complete the 10-mile round trip hike. Spruce Railroad Trail (slated for November 2020).
Rocky Brook Falls
Located near Brinnon, on the east side of the Peninsula, this short 0.3-mile walk follows a brook by the same name to Rocky Brook Falls. Dropping 229 feet into a pool below, this is one of the tallest front-country waterfalls in the Olympic Peninsula.
Bring a suit and take a dip on a hot summer day!
If you’re looking for a day hike or backpacking trip in the Olympic Mountains, Marmot Pass is an iconic dog-friendly trek, and it is simply stunning. Just outside of the National Park boundaries, Marmot Pass is a moderate hike with plenty of backpacking and camping opportunities scattered throughout dozens of miles of trails.
I recommend doing this as a backpacking trip, because there are several gorgeous hikes that spur off from the camp area below Marmot Pass.
The weather can be fickle, so stay for a few days to experience the different trails and for a better chance of some mountain views.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in the Olympic Peninsula
While Washington beaches don’t compare to the Oregon Coast, they are certainly beautiful with wide sandy shores that attract people in sweaters more than the swimsuit clad sort.
Many of the towns along the Puget Sound side of the Olympic Peninsula allow dogs. Port Townsend has a couple great beaches that allow dogs, including North Beach County Park and Fort Worden State Park. The town is also adorable and my favorite in the peninsula.
The Kalaloch area is home to seven dog-friendly beaches located between the towns of Forks and Aberdeen. Sunset is my favorite time for a walk along the beach. The haystack rocks make for lovely backdrops and the reflection of the sky in the wet sand is just dreamy.
I list a couple favorite spots below.
The southernmost of the dog-friendly beaches is a real gem. A short trail from the parking lot leads to the beach, and the crowds thin once you start walking. The shoreline goes on for some three miles in either direction. North leads to the Hoh River, while the south heads toward Desolation Island.
Tree of Life
While you’re visiting the dog-friendly beaches of the Olympic Peninsula, be sure to check out the Tree of Life. The tree straddles a cave formed by erosion, with its roots entirely exposed. How the tree survives and continues to grow without anchored roots is a mystery, hence its name!
Salt Creek Recreation Area
Just 15 miles west of the town of Port Angeles, the Salt Creek Recreation Area is a 196-acre marine sanctuary, located on a picturesque beach on the Puget Sound. Look up and see if you can spot some bald eagles.
Originally used as a WWII military camp, the land was later purchased by the Federal General Services Administration. Several relics from the war remain tucked among the trails, including two concrete bunkers.
The park offers several recreational activities, including camping, hiking, kayaking, bird watching, and more, but perhaps the best activity of all is walking along the beach during sunset overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, BC.