Lake Crescent#4 in Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park
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Formed thousands of years ago, this crystal-clear, glacially carved lake has depths of up to 624 feet in places. As the ice retreated, it left behind a steep valley that filled with the waters of Lake Crescent. Visitors use words like "beautiful" and "amazing" to describe this area of the park.
Activities at the popular spot include hiking, boating and camping. Its protected waters are home to fish like the Beardslee and Crescenti trout, two types of fish found nowhere else in the world. There are also several hiking trails of varying lengths to explore. The hike to Marymere Falls, which measures a little less than a mile each way, leads to a 90-foot-tall waterfall. Meanwhile, the easy .6-mile Moments in Time loop trail is a self-guided trek through the forest and along the lake. More strenuous trails include the Mount Storm King trail, which climbs a steep trail with switchbacks 2,000 feet up (2.2 miles each way) and the Pyramid Peak trail, which climbs steeply to a World War II spotting tower (3 ½ miles each way).
Several reviewers remarked on the lake's quiet atmosphere and said the views of the waterfall are worth the hike. Since there are accommodations here (aside from campgrounds), many travelers also suggested staying here to soak up the lake's beauty.
Located in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains, Lake Crescent, which is free to access, is about 18 miles west of Port Angeles. If staffing allows, the Storm King Ranger Station is open in the summer, where you can find information and books for sale. The Lake Crescent Lodge and the Log Cabin Resort offer accommodations, restaurants and boat rentals (both are closed in winter). For more information, visit the NPS website.
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#1 Hoh Rain Forest
With an annual rainfall ranging from 140 to 170 inches, the Hoh Rain Forest is a lush, green wonderland, with mosses and ferns covering every tree and surface. According to the NPS, it is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular spots to visit. One visitor described walking in the forest as a "Hansel and Gretel-type of feeling" while another likened it to a fairy tale enchanted forest.
Most travelers begin at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, which is staffed with rangers who can offer advice on what to see and do. The visitor center also houses exhibits and a bookstore. Two short nature trails loop through the forest near the center, the Hall of Mosses Trail (.8 miles) and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). If you're up to the challenge, there is also a 17-mile trail that leads to Glacier Meadows, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus, called the Hoh River Trail.
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