Trail Guide: Mount Storm King

Mount Storm King towers above Crescent Lake on the Olympic Peninsula offering the quintessential view of the Peninsula’s largest lake. Hikers will climb just over 2500 feet from the shores of the lake to the top of the mountain in barely 2.5 miles each way.

How hard is the hike?

If you’re a gluten for punishment on the trails or just really motivated to achieve the best views in the area, this trail is for you. It is relentlessly steep but on the shorter length side so at least your misery will have a limit. The top section is also *SO steep that there are fixed ropes to help you climb up and down the most vertical and exposed sections.

A note on heights

If you have a fear of heights, this trail might not be for you but if you’ve managed to do other hikes like Angel’s Landing you will find this trail a bit more tame in comparison. 

*Some write ups say that if you don’t want to do the ropes section, you can still get good views and photos from lowers spots. I kind of disagree with this… We checked all the lower views and nothing comes close to the view you have at the top 

However for reference- this is the best view you get pre-ropes section… great view, just not in comparison to the top.

Bonus: Top off your hike to the top with a refreshing and easy visit to Marymere falls afterwards! It is on the same trail and adds less than a (flat) mile to your overall trip.

Mount Storm King Trail Details:

Distance: 6.1 miles RT with Marymere Falls
Elevation Gain: 2,526 feet (hard)
Time: 3-4 hours
Fees: none
Facilities: flushing toilets

Trailhead Directions:

The trailhead starts at the Marymere Nature Trailhead. From Port Angeles, drive west on Hwy 101 for 20 miles. At milepost 228 you will see a right turn into a large parking area- look for the Marymere Falls nature trailhead signs. The large parking area offers restrooms and a boat launch. If it’s hot enough after your hike, take a dip in Lake Crescent right from the dock.

Trail Description

The trail begins on the Marymere Nature trail as it passes by the Storm  King Ranger station. Shortly after the station, the trail passes through a tunnel under hwy 101. It’s a flat easy trail until the left turn comes in to head up to Mount Storm King. (about 0.5 miles from the parking lot) The turn off is a sharp 180 degree turn at a signed boulder and not too hard to spot.

Mount Storm King turn off

The trail switchbacks continually and steeply up the hill side with a diverse range of trees as you climb starting from dense rain forest, changing to towering pines, and ending with sparse madronas. There’s very few flat spaces to take a break so pace yourself as you go.

It’s easy to follow and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, especially if you are hiking in the morning. We spot a mama deer and here fawn just off the trail in the final 3rd of the hike.

There’s a couple spots to catch glimpses of Lake Crescent but nothing really compares to the final top view.

The rope section

Once you reach the marked “end of the maintained trail” continue straight to the bottom of the ropes section.

The first climb goes steeply up a rock face before turning slightly to the right and steeply climbing from there.

The first rope section… the rock wasn’t that bad with good shoes and scrambling experience, the rope wasn’t really necessary but good for people with a fear of heights.

There’s not really switchbacks but the trail is easy to follow, if not that easy to climb. There were sturdy ropes for our entire climb up making about 7 sections in all. Most of the climbs I didn’t actually need the ropes going up but they were helpful on the slippery descent down.

Summit Experience

Once at the top, bask in one of the best views of the region and try to protect your snacks from the wild Canada Jay that flock around that area.

*it seems to be hit or miss on whether the birds are around as someone hiked 2 days before me and said they didn’t see any. Yet when we went there were dozens of birds… all very friendly. Whether you had food or not they would happily fly over and perch on you which made for some very fun photos.

**I don’t recommend trying to eat up there as then you might get more birds crowding you than you bargained for.

The hike to Marymere Falls

Follow the same trail down that you came up and be patient on the ropes section where you will likely run into others going up and coming down. 

Once you reach the junction with the Marymere falls trail, turn left and continue along the flat peaceful trail until you cross the stream and start to hear the falls.

Follow the wood steps/ boardwalk as it makes a small loop to give you a view at various elevations of the falls before it reaches back up with the main trail.

(We followed the loop clockwise which made the most sense to us) All in all it adds less than a mile and is a very pretty trail, plus a wonderful cool down.

Once back at the lake, go for a swim, enjoy a picnic, or head back to your lodging for a much earned nap.

A note on crowds:

Due to hiking this trail on a busy summer Sunday (and not much of an early start) we had a short line to take a photo in “the spot” and afterwards hiked back down so as not to be in others’ way.

So keep in mind, you usually won’t have a lot of solitude at the top although the trail up and down didn’t feel too busy.

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