Be on the 6:20 AM Washington State Ferry from downtown Seattle at Pier 52 to Bainbridge Island (if you catch the 10:15 ferry you'll still be able to make your connection to Neah Bay, but for your other options you'll simply have less daylight to work with).
Catch Kitsap Transit 90 just outside the ferry terminal at Bainbridge at 7:05, connecting with Jefferson Transit 7 at 7:25 in Poulsbo at Christ Memorial Church. This bus will take you to Port Townsend, and from the transit center there you'll catch JT 8 to Sequim. The JT 8 will reach Sequim in time to catch Clallam Transit 30 to Port Angeles, arriving at about 10:20.
From here, your options open up.
Washington State Ferry, pay $3.75 Kitsap Transit, pay $1.00 . Jefferson Transit, buy daily pass for $1.50 Clallam Transit, buy daily pass for $2.00.
Catch Clallam Transit 14 at Port Angeles at the Oak Street terminal, heading toward Forks, but get off at the Olympic Hot Springs Road about twenty minutes later. The road is paved all the way to your turnoff at about 4 miles, the Whiskey Bend Road, which heads steeply uphill. Near the base of Whiskey Bend Road, the Hurricane Hill Trail shoots nearly straight up to Hurricane Ridge. At the other end of the road, the Wolf Creek Trail does the same.
The Elwha River trail itself hugs the river for miles, gaining elevation very slowly and gradually. Views are of lush forest, ferns, and waterfalls.
One possible loop trail would be to cross the Elwha at the bridge about 3 miles in and climb the Long Ridge Trail, with views west over the Bailey Range to Mount Olympus, and east to Hurricane Ridge. This trail rejoins the Elwha in about 15 miles (no bridge try this in late summer when the water's low), where you could turn back downriver.
Another option would be heading east from the Hayes River Guard Station, crossing Hayden Pass, and exiting via the Dosewallips or the Grey Wolf.
Olympic Hot Springs
Follow the Hot Springs Road all the way to its paved end, and continue on the trail, along remnants of the old paved road, another two miles to the Boulder Creek Campground. The springs, a series of small, secluded shallow pools, are a short walk from the campground.
Continue on up and across Appleton Pass, dropping back down along the Soleduck River, or the Hoh, or the Bogachiel.
Ocean North Beaches
Take Clallam Transit 14 from Port Angeles to Forks; hang out there until the 5:05 bus heads back toward Port Angeles, catching it but getting off at Sappho (if you caught the 10:15 ferry from Seattle, your CT 14 from P.A. will reach Sappho in time to make this connection). There you will catch the CT 16 to Neah Bay.
Reaching Neah Bay at 7:15, you'll have about two hours (at the height of summer) until dark, to pass through Makah Reservation land and onto National Park land.
At the west end of town turn left, and follow signs to "Ocean Beaches", heading southwest along a paved road. At three miles cross the bridge across the Waatch River and head south. At six miles cross the Soos River and continue south. At 7.5 miles look for the gated parking lot on your right. You're still a couple miles from the beach; walk through the parking lot and follow the jeep trail. It can be treacherously muddy: I made one misstep and instantly sank up to my knee. Eventually you'll reach a trail down to the beach. There's a long string of great campsites in the trees just before you reach the beach.
The Olympic National Park coastal strip is the last long stretch of wild ocean beach in the lower 48: cherish it!
Make sure to bring a current tide chart, as there are many points of land that can be rounded only at low tide. The tides will dictate your progress to a considerable degree. There are many places where, at high tide, you'll be unable to continue, and many others where though you might be able to continue, you'll do so by clambering between, over, and among boulders the size of pickup trucks. Better to stop, have lunch, and wait for the tide to drop, so you can simply scamper blythely across the wet sand just a few feet seaward of those same boulders.
Crossing the Ozette River can be a bit tricky; after heavy rains it may not be crossable. Cross it a low tide, where it's wide (and shallow, and therefore slower).
Outside of those longest days of summer, you might instead travel north along the coast, starting at Rialto Beach. Arriving in Forks on that same CT 14 from Port Angeles, catch the CT 15 to LaPush at 4:35, getting off at the Three Rivers Resort and gas station, and walking 5 miles to Rialto Beach, just past the Mora Campground.
Once you reach Port Angeles, stop and have lunch. Then head up the Mount Angeles Road, paved and welltraveled, 17 miles to Hurricane Ridge. Then turn left onto the (dirt) Obstruction Point Road, following it 8 miles to its end, and the trailhead.
In front of you are peaks and lakes and marmots and deer and more marmots and more peaks. Several different loop trips are possible. You could also head south, cross Grand Pass, Cameron Pass, and Lost Pass, then either head west (across Hayden Pass) to the Elwha, or east down the Dosewallips.
A few miles before you reach Port Angeles, get off the CT 30 at the Deer Park Road and head uphill to the Deer Park Campground and trailhead. A considerably shorter (but less welltraveled) route to the Hurricane Ridge area.
round trip, trailhead to Royal Basin 27 miles
Gain access to the Buckhorn Wilderness, and the northeast corner of Olympic National Park. Visit famed, isolated Royal Basin. Or use this route to connect with trails on the Quilcene and Dosewallips, or to Hurricane Ridge (not easily accessible this year until much repair work is done on the la Nina-shredded Gray Wolf Trail).
Starting from Seattle on the 6:20 AM ferry to Bainbridge, get off the Jefferson Transit #8 to Sequim at Sequim State Park (just shy of the town of Sequim, the early morning run would drop you off at about 9:15 AM). You could catch the 9:30 ferry, but then you'd have to idle for two hours in Port Townsend, and would reach Sequim State Park at about 3:30 PM.
About 100 yards south of the state park, head up Louella Road to a junction with Palo Alto Road, go left, and follow it past many bends and turns to the Dungeness Forks Campground, about 7 miles from the highway.
From near the campground, Forest Service Roads 2860 and 2880 lead up the Dungeness along opposite sides of the river, reconnecting further on. Of the two roads, only 2880 is currently open to auto traffic, so the odds of hitching a ride are infinitely better here, but either can be walked.
Either road leads to the Lower Dungeness Trail (833) and to Trail 830, from which points a nice loop can be made, including the site of the old Tubal Cain Mine and Marmot Pass, with possible sidetrips to Constance Pass and/or isolated Royal Basin.
Note: If heading up the Gray Wolf River Trail (834), the trailhead has been moved to about half a mile beyond (NW of) the parking lot for the old trailhead, due to la Nina - related damage.
Other options from the Port Angeles Hub: Barnes Creek/Aurora Ridge, Soleduck River, Buckhorn Wilderness.
Washington State Ferries 1 (800) 84FERRY or www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/
Clallam Transit 1 (800) 8583747
Jefferson Transit 1 (360) 3854777 or www.jeffersontransit.com/
Kitsap Transit 1 (360) 3732877
Updated May 2000