U.S. Route 101 Part 1, a Loop De Loop.
Mid May 2015.
We had the travel bug. We really wanted to get out and see parts of Washington State that neither of us had been to yet. First, we wanted to just go here or camp near there, but that quickly escalated into a full-on road trip with a loose itinerary.
We lived near Seattle, just so you have a rough estimate of our start and end point. Our idea was to travel down to the most South Eastern section of Highway 101 and then from there (The Olympia area) follow US 101 North and eventually complete the loop in just a few days. This way we could see the majority of the peninsula and have completed an entire segment of that highway.
We chose a few days to take off in the middle of May, 2015. Speeding down I-5 we soon found ourselves diving deep into our trip. 1st stop, good food. If you’re in the area, the Olympic Timber House is a must. It’s not only beautiful inside, but will leave you wishing you could fit more of the menu into your belly. Make sure you take time to enjoy the wall art.
If time is not an issue for you, I’m sure there are other things that you could do on this section of the highway. For us however, we had a tight schedule. After only really stopping at Isthmus Trail just to stretch a little and take photos of the mysterious tree covered in sea shells, we drove straight through up to Port Townsend. Namely Fort Worden. If you love history or old military stuff, this is a real treat. The base is large, and you can take your self-guided tour all over.
Port Townsend is also a real gem. No reason to rush out of this area. I’m going to skip talking about the town though.
For this trip, we completely missed Seqium and Dungeness. We would later make a trip to this area specifically. The Dungeness wildlife park is one of the world’s largest sand spits and you can see an abundance of wildlife. While you’re in the area make sure to stop at Olympic Game Farm, where you can drive your car through the zoo. Be wary though, the animals will stick their heads in your car. Have a towel on hand for the slobber. If you’re an expert with the bread, you might even be able to throw a slice to the bears as they wave. I threw mine like a frisbee and he caught it in his mouth. No big deal.
Neah Bay would be a worthy drive if you have the time. Shi Shi beach is in that area as well. We didn’t stay too long in the area. Locals attitude may vary.
When we arrived at Forks, we took a picture at the town sign. It was getting late though, and we were interested in a quick feast and then camp. Our goal was to camp in Hoh Rainforest that night. That was still a way off. Depending on your reading habits, Forks could be a quick stop or…….. well, do what makes you happy. For us, we pushed through.
Camping in Hoh Rainforest this time of year was awesome. The weather really held out for us. We pulled into the Hoh Campground near the Hall of Mosses in the dark. Which would become standard procedure for us as time wore on. The ground tent accompanied with an air mattress made for an easy night.
In the morning we cleaned up camp. Ate an easy skillet breakfast. Then hiked around the Hall of Mosses trail and the various other connecting trails. Of course, Hoh Rainforest was our primary destination and we spent most of the day there. The scenery is reminiscent of an alien jungle. Even the streams are perfectly clear. Moss does cover the entire forest, as if sasquatch was trying to childproof it with shag rug.
Once you’ve had your fill of this area don’t forget to hit the gift shop.
The rest of the trip was marked by side adventures. Some hiking, seeing the world’s record Sitka Spruce, and climbing around on the rock structures at the beaches. We didn’t really have a lot of time for us to spend at each location on this trip and it was bittersweet to be rushed. Which was not a big deal since we were able to return to some of the places we liked later.
There are so many trails for hiking and lots of great places to go along this route. I’m sure someone has a more complete guide to the peninsula.