Staircase Trails in Washington

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Staircase Trails

The Staircase Trails of Olympic National Park, close to the town of Lilliwaup, put hikers in close proximity to the Skokomish River and through heavy forest that’s a joy to hike just about any time of year. Read More

What trails should I hike in the Staircase area?

Staircase Rapids Trail
This trail will put you face-to-face with the mighty and fast-moving Skokomish River, which is especially impressive to view in the spring when it’s being fed by the run-off. You might see a few Roosevelt Elk along the way. Don’t miss the little side trail to the “Big Cedar Tree.” It’s an ideal trail for introducing the kids to hiking, but keep little ones away from the swift river. 

  • Distance: 4 miles 
  • Average time: a few hours 
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Trail type: out-and-back 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, travel 101 East to Hoodsport. Turn left onto State Route 119, proceeding 9.3 miles to a T intersection with Forest Road 24. Make a sharp left. In 1.7 miles the pavement ends. Continue on a good gravel road (FR 24) and in 3.7 miles come to a junction. Turn right and drive 1.2 miles to the Staircase Ranger Station. Trailhead parking is on your right, across from the campground.

North Fork Skokomish River Trail
Accessible year round and also open to horses, this trail wanders through several different kinds of terrain including lowland river valley, montane forest, and subalpine meadow. If you take it only to First Divide, it’s a manageable day hike, but long for younger hikers. Most trekkers choose to backpack it and stay overnight. 

  • Distance: 12.7 miles (to First Divide) 
  • Average Time: 7-8 hours or overnight 
  • Elevation gain: 3,900 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Trail Type: out-and-back 
  • Trailhead: This trail is accessible from the staircase trailhead at the northern end of Lake Cushman. From Port Angeles, travel 101 East to Hoodsport. Turn left onto State Route 119, proceeding 9.3 miles to a T intersection with Forest Road 24. Make a sharp left. In 1.7 miles the pavement ends. Continue on a good gravel road (FR 24) and in 3.7 miles come to a junction. Turn right and drive 1.2 miles to the Staircase Ranger Station. Trailhead parking is on your right, across from the campground.

Flapjack Lakes
A popular route in the Staircase area, this one makes its way to a series of lovely alpine lakes known as the Flapjacks. Start near the North Fork of the Skokomish and ascend through montane forest and tackle some fairly strenuous switchbacks along the way. Campsites are scattered around the lakes at the end of the trail but be sure to keep food contained as black bears are spotted frequently. 

  • Distance: 7.4 miles 
  • Average time: overnight 
  • Elevation gain: 3,120 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous 
  • Trail type: out-and-back 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, follow Highway 101 east to Hoodsport. Turn west on Lake Cushman Road and travel for 9 miles to Forest Service Road 24. Turn left and drive 6.5 miles to Staircase Ranger Station and the trailhead.

Lena Lake Trail
This day hike is extremely popular, especially on the weekends in the nice weather. Start in second-growth forest and make a gentle climb into old growth forest, where you’ll begin to hear the lake. At 3 miles, stop at the ledge for a rest and a wonderful look at this crystal subalpine lake below before making your way down there. You can camp near the lake but the spots fill up fast. 

  • Distance: 6 miles round trip 
  • Average time: 3-4 hours 
  • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Trail type: out-and-back 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, head east on Highway 101 to about 14 miles north of Hoodsport and turn left on Forest Road 25 near the Hamma Hamma River. Follow the road for 8 miles to the trailhead.

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