Hiking Mt Storm King: The Guide

I now write and review adventure stories for “TheOutbound“, so I thought it seemed necessary to add some of these informative articles to my own blog, two birds one stone am I right?! These are short stories/tutorials that will tell you everything that you need to know about certain hikes, activities, extreme sports, etc all around the world. From trekking to Mt Everest in Nepal to SCUBA Diving islands off of the Philippines I will cover everything that I can think of in hopes that you can follow them as a guide for your own adventures.  So, without further ado, here is my first short story/tutorial via TheOutbound, it covers hiking Mt Storm King in Washington State, something a little close to home to begin with!

Mt Storm King is a hike within the Olympic Peninsula that includes a moderate amount of incline from start to finish, it begins flat for the first half mile through densely vegetated forest until you locate the “To Storm King” sign and then goes straight up from there, no seriously, it’s a straight uphill incline the moment you see the sign. In the off season it includes the added challenge of two rope sections where you must climb up through deep snow via ropes tied into trees (it’s perfectly safe just keep your footing). These are just added fun honestly, they are not as dangerous as they sound and you feel a bit of a rush doing it, or I did at least, go  figure!

Broke the rule of “don’t look down” already, that was quick…

The Hike

Starting at the Storm King Ranger Station parking lot you will park here and locate the signs pointing towards Marymere Falls and Storm King. It should be well noted that it is very easy to branch off and do a short side trek to Marymere falls from the Storm King trail, and the Falls trail would be considered a beginner difficulty, while Mt Storm King itself would be moderate day hike and perhaps a step above in the winter time with the addition of rope climbing and need for more technical winter equipment. This 3.8 mile roundtrip hike reaches an elevation of 2,400 ft at the peak, with the overall gain of the whole hike being about 1,780 ft.

The hike begins from the parking lot, and you will immediately pass the beautifully pristine Lake Crescent, which on a nice day, possesses a glistening blue color that is sure to impress! As you pass the lake you will be passing the famous Storm King Ranger Station, an iconic building within Olympic National Park that reminds you of some of the immense history of the park itself.

Following the same trail it will rope you through a small tunnel that takes you under the main road, and into the forest. Signs will take continue to guide you towards Marymere Falls as you trek through the densely green colored forest on the flat trail until you reach a gigantic boulder on the left hand side of the trail (it’s hard to miss in all honesty, look for the biggest boulder you could imagine).

At the boulder you will find the small wooden sign that points up the steep trail stating; “Mt Storm King”, this is where the fun begins if you’re into that kind of thing. Just to reiterate here, if you miss this boulder, you more than likely will need glasses or some kind of help, it’s painfully obvious.

Terrible views am I right?!

After 1.4 miles of straight uphill switchbacks on the well paved out trail, you will find a rock lookout at your first site of Lake Crescent from such high elevation, along with Pyramid Mountain in the distance gleaming like a snow capped beacon. You may stop here for a quick breather to take in the sights or carry on, there will be another lookout not too far ahead in the trail perhaps another 10 minutes of upward trekking and you will find it (not much of a view of Lake Crescent with this one though unfortunately).

As you continue to trek upwards though the forest you will be looped around the backside of the mountain until you reach a fair amount of rock shale. In the off season this will be rope climbing zone number one, where you simply grab the attached rope on the tree and trudge through the deep snow maintaining your footing throughout, just be wary of the wet rock as you approach the rope. In the summer, it is typically much more forgiving and you will not need the rope.

Continue  on about .1 miles until you find the second rope, this one is a little longer in distance but still completely safe. Again if you are climbing in the spring or summer you will not need the ropes and will be able to hike up much faster.

After the second ropes you simply turn the corner and begin the climbing up the rock to the peak. Once you have carefully scaled the rocks to the top you are greatly rewarded with sweeping views of the entire surrounding area including Lake Crescent and Pyramid Mountain (among other stunning mountains). I’ve been told sunset and sunrise here are second to none in the area, and I am willing to bet that this is true. Either way the view from the peak is well worth the short trek up and then some!

There was nobody else up there when  I was up here, off-season will do that, so it made it all the more peaceful from the peak. Just me and the mountain, it truly doesn’t get much more tranquil especially if you’re here for sunrise/sunset and have it to yourself. If this is the summer time then you will more than likely not be so lucky, as most hikes in Washington appear to get very crowded during the only “nice” months in this rainy state.

On a side note, bring some seeds or nuts if you would like as there are friendly birds that inhabit the area and will eat the food straight from your hand if you extend it. Makes for some quality photographs to say the least!

Seattle’s real best coffee

Oh and if you happen to own the equipment, I can state with confidence that coffee always tastes even better when brewed from ontop of a mountain peak and this was no exception. Seattle’s REAL best coffee is brewed from the summit of Mt. Storm King, you can’t tell me anything differently.

PACK LIST

  1. Water (2L or more).
  2. Hiking Boots.
  3. Microspikes (if attempting in the fall or winter).
  4. Trekking poles (again only if attempting in the fall or winter).
  5. Camera equipment for those stunning views.
  6. Discover Parks Pass (or pay one time fee).
  7. Seeds or nuts for the birds if interested

ACTIVITIES:

Hiking, Photography

SKILL LEVEL:

Intermediate

SEASON:

Year Round

TRAIL TYPE:

Out-and-Back

DISTANCE:

3.9 Miles

ELEV. GAIN: 

1780 Feet

 

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