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ADV Rides8 Great Reasons to Ride Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

8 Great Reasons to Ride Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

 Explore ancient forests, glacial peaks and roaring falls of the great North West.

Published on 01.10.2020

You may not know it, but there’s a National Park the size of Rhode Island tucked away in the upper left corner of the U.S. The Olympic National Park, on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, is a treasure trove of wildland and wildlife alike. 

Due to its remote location, it doesn’t receive nearly the same fanfare as other parklands and the same can be said about the region in general. That’s precisely why you should go: the Olympic National Park and greater Olympic Peninsula offer a unique opportunity to experience some of the areas greatest wonders without the Disneyland feel of Yosemite or Yellowstone. Also worth considering is the region’s extensive history of logging and forestry operations. There’s a seemingly endless system of primitive access roads that are begging to be explored by motorcycle. 

We spent significant time on the Olympic Peninsula coming up with an epic adventure bike route that showcases some of the most intriguing natural wonders preserved within its borders. We also put together all the information you need to plan your own Adventure Ride in the region, including an interactive map, GPS tracks with top destinations, scenic camp spots and more.  Read on for the eight reasons why you should stop what you’re doing and make a beeline for the PNW!

1. Epic Off-Road Terrain

Off-Road Trails in the Olympic Peninsula

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Roadside hill climbs, tricky rockslide traverses, loose scrambles, and adventurous water crossings are all on the menu. With such a large sample size of terrain, there’s sure to be something to satiate everyone’s appetite no matter their riding ability or prowess. It’s quite easy to make a circumference of the peninsula on fairly basic dirt roads covering ground at a good pace while still having time to take in all the natural beauty. 

Water crossing KTM 790 Adventure R
Exploring trails in the Olympic Peninsula.

That being said, there are plenty of alternate routes and side trips that are sure to fulfill those in search of a little gnar. This route is perfect for large displacement adventure bikes and smaller dual sports alike, all depending on pace and what kind of mischievous detours you want to undertake.

2. Explore a Unique Forest Landscape

Riding Adventure Bikes in Washington State.

The Olympic National Park is home to four temperate rainforests: The Hoh, Quinault, Queets, and Bogachiel. These forests are defined by their annual rainfall of twelve to fourteen feet each year. They are inhabited by old-growth Douglas fir, red alders, Western hemlocks, and Sitka spruce among plentiful varieties of mosses & ferns. Temperatures rarely fall below freezing or exceed eighty-degrees, facilitating a distinctively luscious ecosystem.

Hike the Soleduck trail.

The park itself is comprised of nearly a million acres, seventy-three miles of coast, sixty named glaciers, sixty-four trailheads, and over three thousand miles of rivers & streams. It’s a vast swath of raw land set aside by the federal government for a good reason, as it is a wonder to behold. Some of the park’s notable animal inhabitants include elk, mountain goats, black bears, cougars, bald eagles, foxes, and plentiful deer. On the coast, sea lions, gray whales, orcas, and otters can also be seen.

Caribou in the Olympic Peninsula.

Olympic National Park was the ninth most visited national park in 2018, hosting over three million people. Don’t let those numbers deter you; the high number of visitors is offset by the fact that ONP is the thirteenth-largest in the system (Comparable to Rhode Island). Notwithstanding the many tourists, adventurers on two wheels will often feel like they have the park to themselves. No other time is this personified more than in the shoulder seasons when some rain is almost guaranteed, but your reward will be empty campgrounds and absolute solitude.  

3. Washington Coast

Riding the coast of Washington State
Exploring the beaches in the Olympic Peninsula.

Washington’s coastline is one hundred & fifty-seven miles of beautiful breakwater where the Pacific Ocean ends or begins depending on how you look at it.

The beaches that comprise the Washington coast might not fit the classic mold of what most people envision when they picture a beach, but even on the most blustery of days, they still have just as much to offer. The seventy-three miles of beach designated as National Park is a unique ecosystem unmolested by modern complications and mostly inaccessible by vehicles. Sea stacks encompassed in fog banks often act as the backdrop for endless drift log strewn stretches of sand. Tide pools, rocks, and sea creatures are standard fare and can easily entertain one’s imagination for days on end.

Dead whale on the beach.

Time off of the bike exploring sections of the coast is often just as enthralling as roving dirt roads and twisty pavement that often parallel Washington’s ocean beaches.  

4. Amazing Views

Obstruction Point Olympic Peninsula Ride.

The Olympic Peninsula is vast, and the landscape is diverse, even if it might seem entirely evergreen at first glance. Being able to travel from damp rainforests to expansive coastal beaches and then ascend mountains tall enough to take it all in represents something unique. Almost around every corner, another breathtaking view can be found, whether it’s the vast Pacific Ocean, regional volcanoes, metropolitan hubs off in the distance, or endless seas of densely packed trees.

KTM 790 Adventure R

Some of the must-see sights within the park are any of the temperate rain forests, Hurricane Ridge, Obstruction Point, Lake Crescent, Lake Quinault, Lake Cushman, Cape Flattery, and as many of the ocean beaches as you can pack in!

5. Complete Solitude

The Olympic National Park itself is nearly a million acres and although it sees many visitors annually, most of that traffic is allocated to a few hot spots that leave the vast majority tourist-free and ripe for exploration. Thankfully, in many areas of the peninsula, all it takes is a slightly deteriorated pothole-strewn road to deter most would-be wanderlust wanderers. 

Beautiful Camping spot in the Olympic Peninsula.
Amazing views in the Olympic Peninsula.

It’s not hard to find solitude on the Olympic Peninsula, and if that’s what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. Even on a busy summer weekend, it’s easy to get away from the crowds as long as you avoid the established campgrounds and busy attractions like Hurricane Ridge. If you travel far enough down any dirt road, you’ll eventually have the peninsula to yourself; this is especially true on the South and West sides of our track.

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Author: Spencer Hill
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17 thoughts on “8 Great Reasons to Ride Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

  1. Roads not worth it. Views not worth it. Weather not worth it. Locals politically minded and not friendly. Heavily regulated and patrolled. High fines. Go somewhere else.

    • Don’t do anything illegal, and you don’t have to worry about getting fined…
      It sounds like you might have a bias or alternative motives, though.

      • I’ve been riding the Olympic Peninsula for going on 13 years now. It’s my favorite riding area. I’ve never had one single lick of problems with anyone or any regulation.

  2. The antiquated image of loud dirt bikes with careless operators is comical in this instance. We’re talking about modern motorcycles designed for road use, piloted by riders that have the means to own and maintain them. If I were you I would be more worried about the small army of transients and drug addicts that loiter in these areas, not to mention the hordes of beer drinking gun toting weekend worriers that leave behind unimaginable quantities of trash.

    • Regardless they tear up the terrain and like I said you better bring a chain saw and hope they are light enough to carry out. My sister lived in the area a month and a tree fell on her car.

  3. So here’s a question – where is the nearest major civilisation ………..that would allow for hire of an adventure bike ?

  4. Great report Spencer! We’ve ridden all paved up there but always wAnted to do a more backcountry route. Nice to see you riding KTM now. I have always wondered what you have been up to so i’m glad to see this. Cheers my fellow shipmate! ERIC

  5. While the riding season out here won’t be happening for a few months, Route 5 from Hoodsport to Quilcene still has part of it closed. FS 2441 from the intersection of FS 2464 to FS 2480, and the 2480 to FS 25 (Hamma Hamma road) are still closed due to the 2018 Maple Fire. The FS road closure document said it was to be closed until 30 OCT 18, yet it is still closed – confirmed that on a Xmas tree cutting trip up there in mid-December.

    Hopefully, they will be opened up again this spring – call and let them know, and ask them to get the washout fixed on FS 2510 – IMO, one of the best sections on Route 5 – before the washout blocked it!

    ONF Road conditions – https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/olympic/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5293706

  6. This is an excellent write up Spencer! Thank you for this. I have been planning a trip here for summer ’20 and have been piecing things together through other sites. This article gives me all the info I needed, very much appreciated. I’m surprised to see negative comments on this.

  7. Excellent article and some absolutely Beautiful pics! This is what I’m looking for as I move from dirt bike racing into a little slower pace as well as taking the time to smell the roses. I learned years ago that Adventure riding is just that,…..An Adventure. You have to be ready for anything.
    Thanks for the ride report, AND the GRP files!

  8. I spent five years in Oregon and had considered doing this ride many times, but never went for it. Now I have a reason to go back!

  9. Thanks for sharing your .gpx tracks for this beautiful ride. We just rode a few shortend sections of the ride over three days. We started at Quilcene and rode a counter-clock-wise direction and ended at Lake Quinalt. I have a 1200 GSA that was fully loaded with camping gear with Heidenau K-60 Scout tires. I’m definitely looking for the easier less technical sections. The only section we hit that was not too comfortable was from Sitkum SolDuc road to Forks. At about 9 miles in, we started hitting some larger rock fall areas that were not so fun to manuever through with the Big Red GS. We did not know how many more of those we’d have to encounter in that area, so we did not continue with that section. Every other section was beautiful and fun. Thanks again.

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