In the Olympic National Park, the trails to summits can be incredibly steep. When people ask me where the best hikes are on the Olympic Peninsula, I don’t give those compass directions, I just point up. While the beaches and valleys are beauty in their own right, the alpine regions in the Pacific Northwest are World Class. Anyone who has hiked or climbed out here knows the alpine is special. From the Enchantments to Goat Rocks and over to the Bailey Range, the Evergreen State has some amazing alpine hikes.
I first started experiencing the alpine of Olympic National Park in my early 20s, getting back in the touch with the trails I ignored before I moved away to college. Coming home to the Olympics changed my life and showed me the beauty of the region. Camping alone at Low Divide in late August, with a purple sunset illuminating the mountains over got me hooked. I knew that night that when I see a trail with elevation gain, I have to try it. The Olympics get more beautiful as you start to go up.
To get to the alpine, you have to go up, and for good or ill, the way up is usually switchbacks. For some, switch-backs can be rough on the legs, but not horrible. For others they can be mind-numbing and mentally exhausting thanks to slowly changing scenery. For me, I disliked switchbacks for years because I was impatient. We all have our reasons for disliking switchbacks, but do you have a reason you like them?
I like switchbacks because they get me to the top of some amazing places. They exhaust me, they challenge me and they make my legs look awesome. They punish me for going too fast up or down them, and reward me with sights of mountain goats along snow-lined lakes. They take my breath away both while hiking and when looking at the destinations. To me switchbacks are the part of the trail where I get to connect with nature and fully appreciate its beauty.
I love switchbacks so much, I pretended to interview Seattle’s Sir-Mix-A-Lot and created the following quote: “I like switchbacks and I cannot lie, you other hikers can’t deny. When a trail climbs fast and leaves you gassed, you get stoked and want to prove you’re tough and get to the scenic bluff.”
Call me Sir Hikes-A-Lot, because I like switch-backs. The best trails do have switchbacks and if you haven’t experienced the amazing feeling of hiking in the Alpine of the Olympic Peninsula, you need to do so. Seeing the ridges, the lakes and the glaciers of the Olympic National Park will leave your breathless.
Hike the Olympic Peninsula soon.
Our 5 Favorite Switchback Trails in the Olympic Mountains
Olympus Ranger Station to Hoh Lake and 7 Lakes Basin
Marmot Pass from Tubal Cain Mine
Lake of the Angeles
Klahhane Ridge via Switchback Trail
Want More Trails on the Olympic Peninsula
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