Mount Storm King. We’ve always been intrigued by this title. Such an epic name must come with an epic journey, right? Every time we drove through the Olympic Peninsula, we looked up at the peak and wondered what it was like to see Lake Crescent from up above, standing above the clouds.
Just a few weeks ago, Berty and I decided to take the plunge and drive three hours to the Olympic Peninsula to finally conquer this hike. It’s safe to say that it actually conquered us, but we came out of the experience with great respect and awe for this magnificent mountain. In this post, we’re sharing our journey, and what you might expect while hiking here, too!
Test Your Boundaries At Mount Storm King
Here Are Some Hike Details:
- 4.7 miles round trip
- Elevation gain: around 2000 feet (rephrase: STEEP)
- Location: Lake Crescent Mt. Storm King Ranger Station, about 30 minutes west of Port Angeles
The first half mile is deceiving at best. The flat trail towards Marymere Falls seems tame, but it only took us about 10 minutes of walking until we reached the trail turn to begin our climb. The turnoff path is immediately steep and doesn’t get flat for a while! Right away we had to set a slow and steady pace so we didn’t waste all our energy at the beginning. The first half consists of climbing through the dense Pacific Northwest forest, among the tall trees and in the middle of the morning fog. We may or may not have freaked ourselves out by talking about Slenderman…eek!
After the steep forest climb (approximately a half-mile from the turnoff) we were above the clouds and greeted with pockets of viewpoints. We were able to see Lake Crescent covered with a blanket of fog and the Strait of Juan De Fuca in the far distance (Hi Canada!).
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Once we neared the top, the scenery started to change dramatically. The trees were not as close together, their bark looked more weathered, and the trail became more rocky. We were greeted with sweeping views of the lake and valley below, and for the first time all morning, we saw the sun!
This is also the part of the trail where you have to decide: make the climb to the top, or turn around. The last climb required us to be aided by a series of ropes, with steep cliffs on either side and slippery ground underfoot.
Being a determined team that day, we decided to press onward. We ultimately decided to climb higher because the weather was great for us. We had no wind or rain, and there was no snow pack at the top. If there were any of these elements present that day, our group would have seriously considered taking the current view as our reward and turned back.
Mount Storm King can be dangerous to climb in bad weather. Use your best judgement and never attempt something if you’re not 100% comfortable!
With our legs shaking from adrenaline (and let’s be honest, a little fear too) we were rewarded with the most glorious of views. We stayed a while, refueled, and naturally took tons of pictures. It was pretty cool to see the fog roll between the mountains and over Lake Crescent. We’ve seen the view from below many times (see post here for a different perspective) but seeing it from the top was something we never could have imagined!
Because of the challenge this hike presented, it made reaching the top so much more satisfying. We lingered here for a long time…
We had really great cell service up at the peak so Berty decided to get on his instagram stories and go live! We had fun answering questions, sharing about the hike, and hearing from others in real time! Instagram is an incredible tool for its ability to connect people – we even had viewers from Kenya tuning in to see the views from the top of Mount Storm King!
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This guy right here (@JeffreyHLe) was the MVP of this hike. He had just played a soccer game with new cleats the day before, and had terrible blisters on both his feet. His determination was inspiring for both of us – hiking already sore and taking on this feat was no walk in the park!
Jeffrey also is an incredible photographer and videographer! You can find his website here.
Knowing we made it up, we knew we could make it down. Pumping ourselves up for the journey however was a completely different challenge. We had to slowly work our way down the ropes sideways and backwards, trying to keep traction under our feet and not looking down the steep cliffside.
We were pleased to discover that after the series of ropes, the trail was easy going. We also stopped about halfway down to capture pictures of the sunlight bursting through the trees.
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Mount Storm King was on our hiking bucket list for the longest time. We were so happy we finally did it – while it was tough, the views and experience was totally worth it for us!
We were so lucky to come on a day that was clear and dry. The climb would have been pretty dangerous to attempt (if at all) if there were traces of snow or slippery rocks. Check the weather before you go. It’s ALWAYS okay to go as far as you want – there are plenty of sweeping viewpoints along the way. One picture is never worth risking your life, and it’s 100% okay to turn around whenever you damn well please.
Do you like these posts with pictures from Pacific Northwest hikes? We love documenting them, so it’s definitely an easy way to share our experience and let you know what you might expect too.
Have you ever hiked Mount Storm King? We’d love to hear about your adventure and what you thought of it! Tell us in the comments below!
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