The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful panoramic views in all of America. Taking in the grandeur of this region, with its thousands of peaks, saddles, and priceless views, nourishes the soul and replenishes the adventurous spirit. There is something truly amazing about looking out and seeing volcanoes, islands, the ocean, and the rainforest in one open panorama, and the Olympic Peninsula has plenty of these jaw-dropping panoramas, all within just a few hours of Seattle. With summer winding down and only a few months until we get snow in the mountains, take in these spectacular views now, before you have to wait until next year. Here are 4 spots you shouldn't miss:
1. Mount Walker
The trail starts just two hours outside of Seattle, and gives you one amazing view. With two options to get to the summit, hiking or driving, the views from Mount Walker are incredible. Mount Rainier looms huge over Puget Sound, with the rugged Olympic Mountains peering over your shoulder to the west. The city of Seattle and its ferries are easily visible from the top, with the Space Needle, Century Link Field and the Columbia Tower standing out plain as day. If you are looking for a place to just take in the enormity of the Puget Sound and Salish Sea, Mount Walker is just the place.
2. Colonel Bob
Standing on top of an exposed rocky pillar at 4,510 feet, looking over a giant rainforest-lined lake that's fed by glacial meltwater, it quickly becomes apparent that the most beautiful place on the Olympic Peninsula is the Quinault region. Sure, the drive from Seattle might be three hours long, but the views are second to none along this eight-mile roundtrip hike. With your panoramic view including nearly all of Western Washington, you will not regret a single second while looking out from this mountain. The view from Colonel Bob peak is one of the best kept secrets in the state, and those who do venture out are greatly rewarded with unparalleled beauty. Gaze to Mount Olympus and the Quinault River Valley below and remember that the forests below you are all part of the Olympic National Park rainforest. There is nowhere else in the world where you will get all of that in one serving.
Before it became known as the home of a killer mountain goat, Klahhane Ridge was known as an amazing hike in the Hurricane Ridge region of Olympic National Park. Offering views of the entire Olympic Mountain Range and Dungeness Spit, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island, it is easy to see why hikers keep returning to this stellar vantage point. At five miles round trip and just 1,700 feet elevation gain, nearly all levels of hikers can get to this viewpoint over the course of the day. The trail is fun, with great opportunities for pictures to show off the hike. Plus, the sights from 6,047 feet are breathtaking and well worth the effort. Just watch for goats and follow all warnings, as they are a known danger.
Probably the greatest panoramic view on the entire Olympic Peninsula, Mount Ellinor isn’t a secret to those who live close. At 5,944 feet, the views from the summit are truly world class. The trail is popular, but in the unique Pacific Northwest “I’m not the only person on the trail today” way. It does get crowded on sunny days, especially weekends, but at just 3.2 miles round trip, it should be busy. After climbing nearly 2,300 feet, the world opens up and you have the view you've been searching for. To the east, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier are easily seen, as is Mt. Baker to the northeast. On a clear day, Seattle can be sighted along the impressive Puget Sound. Glancing up and down the Hood Canal or southwest toward Grays Harbor and the Pacific Ocean is as impressive as anything else in the state, but the best view is to the west. Looking into the Olympic Mountain interior, the ruggedness and wildness of Olympic National Park becomes easily apparent. Tree lined valleys, craggy summits and glaciated peaks expand to the horizon, as far as the eye can see. And with a 360 degree angle like this, the two and a half hour drive from Seattle is completely worth it.