From high atop Mount Storm King, you’ll capture that perfect photo of Lake Crescent far below. It’s quintessential Olympic National Park here in the far northwest of the United States. Be prepared for a grind to make the summit – if you need to stop, there are several viewpoints along the way. And, as the mountain’s name suggests, do not attempt this hike in bad weather.
A Native American legend speaks to the creation of Lake Crescent, below Mount Storm King. There were many battles between the Klallam and Quileute tribes along the river that once flowed where the lake is today. This escalated into one great, three-day battle, during which the area’s mountain spirit became angered at the futile fighting. It is said he threw an enormous boulder down at the warriors, killing them all. That boulder is believed to have dammed the river and formed Lake Crescent.
Geologists have, indeed, found records that do indicate a large-scale disturbance affecting Lake Crescent. The likely history is that landslides from surrounding mountains divided one larger lake into Lake Crescent and neighboring Lake Sutherland.
Here’s what you need to know to hike Mount Storm King during your Olympic National Park itinerary – and other nearby hikes worth doing.
How to Reach the Mount Storm King Trailhead
It’s best to tour Olympic National Park by car. You can start in Aberdeen on northbound US 101 and do the loop, ending in Olympia, or do it in sections. For the Mount Storm King hike, take Highway 101 from Port Angeles west for 20 miles. At milepost 228, take a right into a large parking lot with a sign for Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls. Drive 0.2 mile to the Storm King Ranger Station. Here on the shores of Lake Crescent, you’ll find restrooms and a boat launch. The hike begins on the Marymere Falls Nature Trail.
What Is the Mount Storm King Trail Like?
Starting on the Marymere Falls Nature Trail, you’ll hike a half-mile to a huge boulder with a sign propped up on it. This is where you turn off for Storm King. Start slowly, saving energy for the climb ahead. You’ll walk through damp forest, then start switchbacking steeply before a flatter section. The forest around you will start changing, from lush to giant pine trees to madronas and manzanitas, cedars and hemlocks. Once you’re in the madrona trees, the views will start coming. From these overlooks, you’ll be able to see the Barnes Creek Valley and Lake Crescent. At 1.3 miles, you’ll be able to see through the trees to Lake Crescent and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This is the end of the trail.
Adding on Marymere Falls
More Hikes Around Lake Crescent for Your Olympic National Park Itinerary
This historic hike is a good choice for families or those seeking a quiet lakeside stroll. You’ll wind for 4 miles along the 9-mile shoreline of Lake Crescent. The hike is part of the Olympic Discovery Trail, a bike route that goes through the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula. Go as far as you like, then turn around.
Start in an old orchard full of moss-draped maple trees, then continue down to a path along an old railroad. At one time, there was a railroad that ran through here to haul Sitka spruce trees out of the forest. As you walk, you’ll find maple, Sitka spruce, hemlock and other types of trees, with the lake always by your side. At several spots, you can hope down to the beach to dip your toes in.
At 1 mile into the hike, you’ll come to a large bridge across a section of the lake. Look to the right to see the gorgeous Punchbowl. Keep going and at 2.5 miles past the Punchbowl, you’ll have nice views of Barnes Point and Mount Storm King. Continue 1.5 miles to the western trailhead, then head back to where you started.
What Else Should I Do on the Olympic Peninsula?
- Check out the Hoh Rainforest. This temperate rainforest is one of the finest examples of its kind in the United States. Start at the visitor center, then walk through this lush wonderland of mosses and ferns carpeting every surface you see.
- Explore Hurricane Ridge. This easily accessed, top-of-the-world ridge offers stunning views across mountains, subalpine lakes and valleys. There are plenty of easy trails that lead out from the visitor center and longer treks and backpacking options if that’s what you seek.
- Visit Ruby Beach. Head to the Pacific coast to see Ruby Beach and Kalaloch. Ruby is one of the area favorites for its sea stacks and tide pools.
- Stop by Rialto Beach. About 40 miles southwest of Crescent Lake, you’ll find Rialto Beach, popular for its dramatic scenery, sea lions, seals, otters and eagles – and the chance to see whales!
- Soak in hot springs. Visit the Sol Duc Valley in the northwest section of Olympic National Park. Hike to the famous Sol Duc Falls overlook and soak in the hot springs at the resort.
Where Can I Stay New the Mount Storm King Trail?
If you can, make reservations at the historic Lake Crescent Lodge on the shores of the lake. The charming lodge was built in 1915 and makes an excellent base camp for exploring Olympic National Park. Settle into spacious guest rooms, many with lake views, and unwind on the sun porch or by the stone fireplace in the lobby. You may also choice a Roosevelt Fireplace Cabin, located right on the shore of the lake and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The lodge offers a number of guided activities, including a tour of the Quinault Rainforest and boat tours on Lake Crescent and Lake Quinault.