Hitchhiking and Public Transportation around the Olympic National Park

  For the last 2 years I have used the bus system to get me around the Olympic Peninsula.   Choosing not to drive; public transportation is my primary source of travel when not walking or cycling.  I wrote previously on this topic, but want to shine more light in the hope that it will be valuable to a traveler.

  During the '30+ Days in the Olympic National Park' trail series.  I relied heavily on hitching and the bus system for my resupply.  Deciding after week 1 to only carry the maximum of 8 days worth of food at a time.

  This would mean I would have to come out to Lake Quinault, Forks, Brinnon or Port Angeles.  There is no shuttle system in place to get me from the trailhead to one of these various towns.  Meaning I would walk the road until a nice person picked me up.

  A 20+ mile service road walk would be necessary if it weren't for kind people.  Nobody wants to walk a road after they have been on the trial all day.  Especially for someone in minimal shoes.  Man made crushed rock roads aren't the kindest to tender feet.

  Once out on the the main highway system that circles the Olympic Peninsula.  I could catch various buses heading north or south.  This came in handy when I was trying to 'leap frog' or go to bigger stores for more food variety.  Also sometimes chose towns with public library for communication purposes; since I do not own a cellphone.

  The public library system is a very valuable resource for someone drifting in the mountains.  The ability to check weather reports, tides and talk to family are all pluses for a successful trip.





Olympic National Park bus
Unloading my bike in Amanda Park while Bus/Bikepacking 









Modern Tool
  I found that one of the most valuable time saving tools is Google Maps.  You can research the available resources available in a certain town during trip planning prior to starting your adventure.  Not only that but, in the last year or two bus routes are also available in Maps.  Access that option by choosing - Maps> Get directions> by public transit icon> enter A and B> bingo!

  Make sure you cross check the suggested route.  Often this service try's to put you on a private shuttle service; which would cost you a lot more money.

  I also don't put my faith in Google.  So always cross check the times on each transit websites or a paper schedule.  





Pamphlet
  Since my last post on this subject.  The powers that be have came up with a physical tourist handout.  This is available in most ranger stations around the Peninsula. Like to think I had a part in inspiring the creation of this idea.

  I however found it basic and leaving some things unclear to visitors.  For example:  If you bus down to Lake Quinault.  That will still leave you 20 miles from any backpacking trailhead.  One would have to hitch or bike in order to complete an over night trip; without sleeping at a expensive campground or lodge.  




Olympic National Park bus guide
Map from the Olympic National Park Transit Guide



Hitch a ride
  While gypying the Olympic Peninsula this form of travel relies on the kindness of others.  Keep in mind this is sometimes a slow process and not guaranteed in the winter months.  During rain storms; I have walked the entire road to access a trail.

  The peak tourist season also affects how quickly you will get a ride. More cars driving up and down the road increases your odds.

  Tip: Always be walking to your destination with backpack on.  Never stand around and expect someone to pick you up. 

  Be aware that it is prohibited to hitchhike in the Olympic National Park.  Spoke to many rangers about this subject.  Long as you don't stick out your thumb; which is the known signal to others that you need a lift.  You are not breaking any laws and will not be ticketed.





Buspacking
  The possibilities are endless when using public transportation to visit the ONP.  I can not think of one route in the Park that is not possible.  Wither its thru-hiking the coastline or climbing Mt. Olympus.

  I feel it is very important to plan your trip ahead of time.  On average it takes an extra 24 hours to complete your adventure.  More than likely you will have to wait until the next day to catch the bus once off the trial.

  However the money savings and the countless increase in adventure makes it well worth your time.

  This form of travel can also be used when returning from the Pacific Northwest Trail via Lake Ozette.






Olympic Mountains bus
 While Buspacking; I successfully completed my Solo Bailey Range Traverse.  This route leads you from Sol Duc to Lake Quinault.
Olympic National Park bus
Riding the bus around Lake Crescent





Bikepacking
  There is no better way to see the roads in the ONP than on a bike seat.   Something about being outside the bubble of an automobile to enhance your wilderness experience.   I have personally seen Olympic Elk, Bald Eagles and Black Bear all while cycling.

  Using a bike on your trip is also a great way to be self reliant.  Not having to depend on a bus or hitching a ride to get you from 'point A to point B'.  Easier to calculate travel time while trip planning; because not having to factor in the variable of waiting around for a hitch.

  Your bicycle can also fit on every transit around the Olympic Peninsula.  The only downside is that most only have 3 slots on the racks.  On a 'first come - first serve' system; you are not always guaranteed a spot.






Olympic National Park bike
Bikepacking the Elwha Valley
Olympic National Park bus bike
Ready to load my bike onto the bus back to Port Angeles, Wa






Resupply
  When spending the summer in the ONP you are going to need to eat.  So I found that using the bus to get me to bigger selection of food was a plus.  Forks and Port Angeles are you best bet for options.  Plus its nice to grab a pizza and beer on your way through town as well.





Cost
  To save money; I tend to stay away from the Seattle side of the Peninsula whenever possible. The buses are also tend to be very crowded in higher population cities.   I also only carry $1 bills in order to save weight for bus fares.

  One way fares can range from $9 to $20 or even $50+ if traveling by private shuttle.





Olympic National Park bus route
Cheapest and Best:  Seattle to Forks via Olympia for $9 (one way)




  Seattle to Forks via Port Angeles is possible; even tho Google Maps suggest other routes.  I know this for a fact from first hand experience.   An overnight in Port Townsend, Wa or commando camping would be required however.

  There are no hostels available in PT; however a popular state park will charge you around $20 per night.  I personally will always chose the commando camping option, but do so at your own risk.



Olympic Peninsula bus
Seattle to Forks via Port Angeles pt. 1 costs $12.50

Olympic Peninsula bus
Seattle to Forks via Port Angeles pt. 2 costs $2.50

Olympic National Park bus route
Seattle to Forks via Port Angeles pt. 3 costs $5




What about you?
  Traveled by bus into the Olympic National Park?  Sat at work dreaming about drifting the Olympics in your backpack?  Wanted to explore the Peninsula from a bike seat?  Need help returning from the Pacific Northwest Trail?

  Leave any questions in the comments below. I will be happy to answer them the best to my knowledge   Thanks for reading - BFJ


No comments:

Post a Comment