Hood Canal Travel Guide: Mountain Climbing

Itinerary #1: Gaining Summits

The lush and prolific natural beauty of the largest fjord in the lower 48 is a haven for adventure-seekers and backwoods-trompers year-round. In the spirit of exploring Hood Canal and beyond in the Olympic Peninsula, we welcome you to the first of our monthly ‘Tour de Hood Canal’ where you can discover hand crafted itineraries highlighting the best of what to see, what to do, and where to dine in our neck of the woods. 


Cuppa Joe |  7am

Stop by Hoodsport Coffee Co. and fuel for your adventurous fire in the morning. Get your caffeine buzz on with one of their three unique and delicious coffee blends or a Tazo tea while munching on a warm toasted bagel. Save yourself a trip to the store, and grab lunch while you’re at it. Hoodsport Coffee Co. serves up sandwiches, classic or panini style with a great selection of interesting spreads and the friendly baristas will happily wrap it up to-go. 

Earn Bragging Rights | 9am

With incredible 360 degree views from the summit and one of the most recognized peaks of the Olympic mountainscape, a jaunt up Mt. Ellinor is a clear top-of-the-list activity for any adventurous soul. Merely 40 minutes from Hoodsport Coffee Co., the extra burly hiker arrives at the lower trailhead with 6.2 miles of trail and 3,300 feet of elevation gain unfurling under his tightly laced boots. Few bragging rights are sacrificed in the decision to begin the trek at the upper trailhead, shaving off a few round-trip miles and about 1,000 feet of elevation. If you happen to embark on a springtime excursion anywhere in the Olympic Mountains, but especially in a high alpine setting like Mt. Ellinor, be sure to plan for 100% chance of wildflowers and possibly rain or snow by putting some fleece and waterproof layers into your pack next to your camera. 


If the ‘character-building grade’ of Mt. Ellinor doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, the Staircase Rapids hike is an excellent sampling of the natural splendor of the Olympic National Forest for the less intrepid hiker. This 4 mile round-trip finds its trailhead a short 30 minutes from Hoodsport Coffee Co. and with each step forward, you can imagine stepping back into the history book to around 1890 when Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil and a team of scientists led an army expedition up the North Fork of the Skokomish River by way of a mule trail. Wind your way along this same riverbank as you leave one mesmerizing frothing rapid behind only to arrive at another just around the corner. Turn around at any point on this gentle out-and-back hike and arrive back at your car saluting O’Neil’s keen foresight and fierce advocacy of the protection of this wild area. 

Dip Your Tired Toes | 1pm

Take a quick detour and visit Lake Cushman, one of the best known and most frequented lakes in Hood Canal. Rent a kayak or a pedal boat from Lake Cushman Resort, or simply take a load off and dangle your feet off the dock while you admire this beautiful gem of the Olympic Peninsula. 


Feed the Beast |  3pm

As Hood Canal is renowned as one of the most delicious oyster spots in the country, it seems imperative to satiate a long day’s worked up appetite with some of Hood Canal’s tastiest crustaceans. Hama Hama Oyster Co. in Lilliwaup is a must-stop for an oyster or clam lover. Relax and kick your feet up in the rustic outdoor Saloon next to the fire pit and watch late afternoon storms blow down the canal. Marvel at the ambience and beauty of it all as you listen to sea lions bark in the estuary and crack a well deserved Rainier beer with a bowl of their killer clam chowder. Be sure to plan accordingly: Hama Hama stops serving around 5:30. 


Treat Yourself to a Tasting | 5pm

For those with a taste for spirits and a second-to-none tasting room atmosphere, a stop by The Hardware Distillery will perfectly round out an adventurous day. Gin and Vodka are the primary staples of this craft distillery, but Jan and Chuck, the lovely couple that runs the operation, experiment with a tasty treat they have dubbed “The Bees Knees,” a distilled cousin to Meade. Versions of “The Bees Knees” are made with local figs, raspberries, peaches and more. Stop by for a small tasting prepared for the difficult feat of leaving without a bottle or two. 

Capping off a perfect day for those feeling extra splurge-y can be achieved with a short walk down the street back to Hoodsport Coffee Co. for a scoop of Olympic Mountain Ice Cream; one of the oldest artisan ice cream companies in the Northwest.  


As you flip through the memories of a day well spent, remember that we love keeping up with you! Tag your photos and thoughts on social media with #explorehoodcanal #wildsideWA #hoodcanal. Be sure to check in with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest for more ideas on how to get the most out of your road trip through the Olympic National Park to Hood Canal. Happy trails and happy tasting!


Hoodsport Coffee Co. 

    Monday - Sunday: 5:30am – 7pm


Olympic National Park Service


Lake Cushman Resort


Hama Hama Oyster Co.

    Thursday - Monday: 12pm - 5:30pm


The Hardware Distillery

    Thursday - Saturday: 12pm - 6pm