Elwha Area Hiking Trails in Olympic National Park

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Elwha Trails

Olympic National Park’s Elwha Trails put hikers in the midst of the beautiful Elwha River Valley, through lowland forests and past beautiful meadows, with the potential of viewing a variety of wildlife as well.

What trails shall I hike in the Elwha area?

Elwha River Trail
Traveling deep into the national park, this trail follows a valley bottom, and though it includes plenty of elevation gain, it is suitable for hikers with only a little experience. The trail passes several campgrounds, crosses numerous creeks as well as the Lillian River, and provides excellent views of various peaks. 

  • Distance: 29 miles 
  • Average Time: 5-7 days 
  • Elevation Gain: 4,085 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Trail Type: one-way 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, take Highway 101 west to Olympic Hot Springs Rd. Turn left and follow that to just above the ranger station and make a left on Whiskey Bend Rd. Travel 4.4 miles to the trailhead.

Appleton Pass Trail
This trail travels from Olympic Hot Springs Road to the lovely Sol Duc River. Be sure that when you get to the North Fork of Boulder Creek that you check out the short spur trails that lead to two spectacular waterfalls. You’ll also experience lots of subalpine forest and will likely view some mountain goats. 

  • Distance: 10.1 miles 
  • Average Time: overnight 
  • Elevation gain: 3,310 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous 
  • Trail Type: one-way 
  • Trailhead: Head west on US-101 from Port Angeles and turn left on Olympic Hot Springs Road into the park. Bear right at Elwha past the Altaire Campground and continue to the trailhead and parking area at the end of the road.

Boulder Creek Trail
This fairly flat and well-maintained trail is ideal for novices. View pretty subalpine meadows and mountain forest. You’ll cross a few small streams, but no major bodies of water, on your way to the Olympic Hot Springs. 

  • Distance: 2.5 miles 
  • Average Time: a few hours 
  • Elevation Gain: about 200 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Trail Type: one-way 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, Follow Highway 101 westward approximately 7 miles to Elwha River Road, also known as Olympic Hot Springs Road. Follow this past the ranger station and look for trailhead signs or stop in the ranger station for maps.

West Lake Mills
This trail is short, but it certainly has its ups and downs…literally. You’ll cross a number of creeks and streams via footbridge or log bridge as you meander old growth forest, and you’ll be treated to excellent views of pretty West Lake. The trail ends at Boulder Creek. 

  • Distance: 2 miles 
  • Average Time: 3-4 hours 
  • Elevation Gain: 650 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous 
  • Trail Type: one-way 
  • Trailhead: Head west on Highway 101 from Port Angeles and turn left onto Olympic Hot Springs Road. Continue down Olympic Hot Springs Road, until you reach the Park Gate. Continue to follow this road until you reach Lake Mills. Take the left to the boat ramp and find the trailhead at the end of the dirt road.