Route: 360 miles with an additional 88 mile Cape Flattery loop drive you can add.
Time: One big day or 2-3 days if you want to enjoy the sites and local food favorites.
Roads: Good pavement in the right season. You can find some dirt roads if you look for them.
Google Maps Full Route Guide HERE
More like a full weekend than just a day drive, the Washington Peninsula loop starting from Olympia and circumnavigating the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest are well worth the 1-3 day drive. At almost every bend there is something new to discover as well as a number of roads that run off the main loop that you can explore. From deep in the rain forest to the edge of the sea, the Washington Olympic Loop can appease a variety of riders with an interest in scenery and the great outdoors.
Image: @jcdershow Sculptures in Monarch Park
Olympia Washington to Monarch Sculpture Park 17-miles
Will kick-start the tour from Olympia, loop around the National Park/Forest, then finish back in Olympia. If you like to start your trips with a little pick-me-up and some premium pastries, then we know just the starting place. The Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, an icon in the city of Olympia and savored by coffee lovers the country over. Take your travel mug inside and fill it with a fresh ground cup of Joe or sit and sip up some stamina before hitting the road. Olympia Coffee makes fresh pastries, sweet & snacks, and when it comes to reviews, they take the cake for #1 position on Yelp. Once your caffeine fix is sorted, we suggest you take a little artistic detour outside the city before officially jumping onto the Olympic loop.
A quick 30-minute detour from the coffee shop will take you to Monarch Sculpture Park, a quirky side-stop that offers up plenty of exploration and photo opportunities as part of the adventure. Just follow the I-5 South out of Olympia, then exit on the Tumwater Blvd SW exit, eventually turning onto the Old HWY 99 SE road that goes past the Olympia regional airport. This eventually exits on Waldrick Road SE and brings you to the Monarch Sculpture Park, and this is where the art-fun unfolds! Here in a massive 65-acre wildlife and art reserve stands the inspirational and interactive artwork collaborations of many artists. You can see giant hands embracing their own creations, butterflies suspended in time, gardens fruiting their fragrant flowers, and there are various musical sections that you can actually play the instrumental works of art. As far as off the path stops, this one is both fun and fascinating.
Monarch Sculpture Park to Quinault Rain Forest 100-miles
From here you can make your way towards Tenino then past Gran Mound and over to Aberdeen on the 12. For those of you who rocked their way through the ’90s, you might remember Aberdeen as the birthplace of long-haired lyrical-legend, Kurt Cobain. Once in Aberdeen, you can stop by and likely add to the neighbors’ agony by taking a photo of Kurt’s childhood home. Or you could stop by the “Come As You Are” welcome sign in the local park for a more welcome, welcome, than taking selfies with your street bike in front of the old house. Either stop should have humming along to memorable guitar riffs in your helmet for the rest of the day.
If getting nostalgic with Nirvana isn’t your gig, then press on up the 101 for stunning scenery options and plenty of outdoor activities. Riding up the 101 road, you’ll eventually pass near Lake Quinault. The lake is a great place to pull over and do a hike or if you’re lucky, get some great wildlife photos. Just off from here is the Quinault Rain Forest and depending on the time of year, a little hike may take you to a remarkable amount of elk grazing away on the lush grass. Right at the ranger station, you can view trail options on the map on their large map. Or if there is someone on staff at the time, ask them about where may be best for how long of trails you want to explore. As well in nearby Quinault, you can camp or find a room and most other services. You’ll probably want to fill up with fuel here, as things get more sparse as the route continues. The rain forest stop is an excellent part of this loop. Really, how many places are you going to find a rain forest in the good ol’ U.S. of A?
Image: @photographybalance A View of Kalaloch Lodge
Kalaloch Lodge to Forks Timber Museum 33-miles
Depending on where you are originally coming from you might want to spend a night or two on this loop, and make your stay a night to remember. Just off the road and nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the 101 is the Kalaloch Lodge. Boasting a rustic number of rooms that are reflective of the areas natural setting. You can rest as well as dine sea-side and during the growing season the restaurant on site sources %60 of its food and beverages from within 150-miles, with a portion of that being certified organic. Even the restaurants’ wine list is sourced entirely from Washington. A great local nights rest that keeps it local.
Continuing North for about 33-miles on the 101 from Kalaoch Lodge, you’ll eventually run into the city of Forks. Here, just before the city, you’ll find the informative Forks Timber Museum. I’m guessing that on your average road trip you wouldn’t be branching out to a museum about trees, but in this area, it makes for an interesting stop. If you read the google reviews, you’ll find a whole host of people who were completely surprised by this home-town gem. Unpack your camera from your top case and pull up for a half-hour of timber facts you never knew you needed to know!
Timber Museum Google Review “This place is amazing, but you have got to see it for yourself.”
Cape Flattery Loop. Sappho – Cape Flattery – Sappho 88-miles additional
For those of you who just aren’t satisfied with a 360-mile loop around the woods, you can tack on a bit more millage be driving out to Cape Flattery. Exit at Sappho onto the 113 that will turn into the 112 out to Neha Bay. From here there is a loop road that goes out to the cape and circles back to town. The views from the cape are magical, and there is a small trail to hike towards the tip if you really want to get up-close with the mighty ocean. Back in Neha Bay you can stop and learn about the Makah tribespeople that used to live in the area for generations. The Makah Cultural and Research Center is full of artifacts and information about how the natives used to etch out a living in the brash environment.
Image: Jenny Lamharzi Olympic Hot Springs
Olympic Hot Springs to Potlatch 105-miles
Working your way back towards the loop you can choose to either continue on the 112 following the coast or duck inland and follow the 101 near the forest past Lake Crescent. Whether you prefer ocean breezes or forest settings, will decide what road you take. However, if you are looking to heat up your motorcycle road trip around the park with a warm bath, then the inside loop on the 101 is going to get you marginally closer to a hot springs hike. Just at the end of this road is the turn into the Olympic Hot Springs. It’s a quick round trip, and the 2.4-mile hike to the springs is said to be an easy one. Depending on your love for nature, read up on what to expect when you get here. Some will love the idea of natural pools seeping warm water from the earth in mother natures rawest form of bathing beauty. Others might be appalled by the notion of untreated water on their precious skin with slimy moss squishing between their toes. If moments with mother nature are your thing, then this is a must-do for you.
If you liked the last stop then getting your hands dirty for dinner will be next on your list of things to do. The area around Potlatch has over a mile of shoreline that you can dig for your shellfish dinner, or savor freshly found oysters. There’s a government website that can provide you with all the information and rules on the area and where is best to get digging. Get off your bike and get into the sand for some fresh seafood.
Image: @mr.kai_and_frag-gsd Oysters at Potlatch
Once you’re done digging or came to the realization that you’d rather shell over some dough for your dinner. You can head into nearby Kelsey’s All Natural restaurant for local favorites like homemade shakes or hand-pressed burgers. Or if you’re just looking for a quick liquid-lunch, you could backtrack a short distance to Hoodspot and try the local Hardware Distillery. The craft distillery makes up artisanal whiskeys and vodkas, or just take a tour and grab a bottle to go. Just up the way from the distillery is the Stottle Winery and tasting room, if a glass of red is more to your taste than a sampling of whiskey.
After you’ve wrapped up your day of digging for dinner and sampling the areas favorite delights, it’s a quick 35-mile drive back into Olympia where the fun began. Overall the Olympia loop in Washington should touch on all the things that make for a memorable road trip. A great drive, beautiful views, unique stops, and some delicious eateries are all on offer here. Pick your favorite time of year and get out riding around Washington.