Things to Do at Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Tucked away smack-dab in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula Loop, Lake Crescent is one of the most beautiful destinations in Washington—a state FULL of beautiful destinations. I visit Lake Crescent often (and often make a dual trip of Lakes Crescent and Quinault), so I figured I’d put together a list of things to do at Lake Crescent.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and people with boats will almost certainly come up with a radically different itinerary. This is just my perspective as a guy who prefers to keep the earth under his feet.

#1 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Storm King

For intrepid hikers, Storm King is a must when you visit Lake Crescent. It’s my favorite hike in that area, and one of my favorites in the entire state.

From the top of the trail you get an awe-inspiring view of Lake Crescent and the surrounding area. Be warned, though, my friends—with courage, endurance, and grit, you must EARN this particular view.

Mean, Mean Mount Storm King: Path to Stunning Views Littered With Bodies of the Broken and Dejected

#2 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Marymere Falls

It’s with great shame that I admit my inability to find any of my pictures of Marymere Falls, though I’ve visited the location more times than I can count. I’ll shoot out to this location every time I visit Lake Crescent.

My lack of falls-photographs does, however, give me an excuse of the tunnel on the trail to the falls. I call it the Hobbit Tunnel, though far as I know it has no official name.

Tunnel through stone wall leading to Marymere Falls.

I think the reason the tunnel always brings Lord of the Rings to my mind is because “Marymere Falls” sounds like something from the Shire to me, and because…well…this tunnel looks like a Hobbit tunnel.

Marymere Falls is a much easier hike than Storm King, and it really is a must-see for visitors to Lake Crescent. The Washington Trails Association covers it well here.

#3 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Jeez, Just Chill and Enjoy the Lake

Many of these sorts of blogs go for outrageous, death-defying adventures. That’s all fine and good, but sometimes I feel like people get too caught up in chasing what will look cool on Facebook, rather than doing something that’s simply relaxing and rejuvenating (what crazy concepts in this modern age).

Bird perched in a tree.
Just BE…like this bird I found in a tree on the shore of Lake Crescent.

Lake Crescent is beautiful. Period. You can just relax on the shore and look out over the water and enjoy the simple pleasure of being alive. It’s okay to just…BE.

I still remember the first time I drove around a bend on 101 and caught sight of Lake Crescent. It pops up out of nowhere after a long drive through thick woods and high mountains.

The glacial water’s got a stunning shade of blue you won’t find in many other places around the country.

Personally, it’s natural beauty was, and IS, enough for me. My favorite times of each trip usually end up being just sitting on the shore and contemplating the beauty.

#4 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Eat at Granny’s

Roughly 10 minutes east of Lake Crescent is one of the best-kept secrets of the Olympia Peninsula Loop: Granny’s Cafe.

Especially after a hard hike up Mount Storm King, Granny’s burgers and milk shakes are unbelievably good. This place is an absolute gem.

Granny’s Cafe near Port Angeles, Washington: One of the Best Places to Eat on the 101 Loop

Send Me Your Tips!

If you’ve got any more suggestions for things to do at Lake Crescent or just want to share your experience, please drop me a line or leave a comment. I’m always ready to learn something new!

Peace out, fellow travelers.

Enjoy the Northwest!

Mean, Mean Mount Storm King: Path to Stunning Views Littered With Bodies of the Broken and Dejected

Mount Storm King is a Cruel and Vengeful King

Cliffs seen from the top of Mount Storm King.There are few easily accessible hikes I’ve ever seen turn away more would-be climbers than Mount Storm King does. I met the victims, walking wounded, several times on my way down the mountain.

“Are we almost to the top?” these strangers asked between labored gasps. They tried to smile, but the desperate glint in their eyes indicated something other than humor.

I would answer with something like, “You’re pretty close,” but then, compelled by a humanistic urge to Truth, would add, “but the trail only gets harder. A lot harder.”

Sometimes they would laugh, thinking that surely I jested. How could the trail possibly continue to go straight upwards any longer without reaching the sun itself?

“It’s rough-going,” I would say. Then I would reach deep into my motivational bag of tricks. “But the view from the top is my favorite view in the state” (this statement is true, by the way).

Some of them would continue on, and some would even make it to the top. Others would simply sit there, waiting for me to pass out of sight so that they could shamefully surrender to Storm King’s cruelty. These I occasionally ran across in the parking lot below, shuffling along shamefacedly and trying to evade my harshly judgmental gaze (I assume this is what they’re doing, anyway).

The trail is not long, only 1.9 miles, but that brevity is deceptive. The trail starts steep and it stays that way. I don’t recall any stretches of the trail that give even a temporary level-graded respite.

Do I say any of this to deter anyone? Of course not. The kind of people who do the King are the kind of people who will be intrigued at the promise of cruelty and despair. These words are sweet talk to the breed of people who will make this climb. Are you feeling seduced right now? Feeling hot?

Step inside my office, then, my friend. The King awaits.

Where to Find the Storm King Trail Head

The Storm King trail head branches off of the very popular (and much easier than Storm King) Marymere Falls trail, which itself begins at the Storm King Ranger Station. I’ve pinned this location below for your convenience (I do strive to be a good guide…please, please tell me I’m good).

The Final Trial of Storm King, and Then Those Views

There are a couple places to stop off for nice views on the way to the top of Storm King. The views are striking enough that I personally think they make the climb worth it, even if a person doesn’t make it all the way to the top.

View of Lake Crescent from an outlook about a quarter mile down the trail from the top of Storm King.
View from one of the outlooks reached about a quarter of a mile from the top of Storm King. I say “quarter mile” with no little hesitance, because I’m estimating this purely off the feel of the hike and my own internal guesswork. If any readers have better intel on the actual distance of this point from the top, please do let me know.

In a way, there are two “ends” to the Storm King trail. The first provides stunning views and awards imaginary medals for toughness and courage to all who make it.

Trail to Mount Storm with Lake Crescent in the background.

The “second end” of Storm King takes another level of irrational persistence. To make this final run, you’ll have to climb up a very steep slope of loose dirt, pulling yourself up with a rope. Allow me to stress here that I’m not saying the rope is there as a novelty or as a convenience. The rope is necessary to get up the loose-footed rise, and you will be relying largely on upper body strength.

Beyond this is another such climb. When I hiked this a few years ago,there was a rope there as well, and I believe there should STILL be a rope there. As of the date of this writing, however, that second rope is gone.

Going up these two sections is a bit tough, but nothing too crazy. Where things get a slight bit hairy is when you have to go back down. Falling down either of these two steep sections carries a legitimate risk of serious injury, and possibly death (in some nightmare scenario where the momentum carries a person clear off the side of the mountain).

But, those brave adventurers who make it to the end shall be treated visually thusly:

There’s Birds in Them Thar Trees

Gray finch perched in a tree on Mount Storm King.Up at the top of the mountain, you’ll find plenty of these grey jays cruising around and looking for handouts.

They’re an athletic bunch of birds to watch…and to envy the ease with which they maneuver through the territory you just sacrificed a piece of your soul to reach.

Like All Things Worth Doing, the Suck is the Best Reward

Like a ruptured quadriceps or a torn calf muscle, Mount Storm King is an event you’ll never forget. The views are amazing; they are probably my favorite views in the state, in fact. But, what really makes Storm King terrific is how much suck it manages to pack into a mere 1.9 miles of trail.

It’s the kind of hike you laugh about years later, fondly recalling that time you asked your hiking partner to kill you so that you wouldn’t have to go on…that time your hiking partner responded, “Only if you kill me first.”

This is the good stuff. Take on the King. He is harsh and he is cruel, but he rewards those who persevere to the end.