For more on Mount Storm King, see our Barnes Creek web page.

01/01/19 - New Year on the Spruce Railroad Trail

We decided to start the New Year with a walk along the Spruce Railroad Trail. With the government shutdown, we weren't sure of whether the trail would be open, but it was. At least the first three miles are open. There were signs indicating that the section from the second tunnel to the western trailhead was still closed for remodeling. We joined quite a number of other people enjoying the trail and the good gray weather. The water was still which made for a sense of calm and great reflections of the mountains and forests around the lake.

The footbridge

Storm King, quite placid today

A small waterfall, where we turned around


A small stream, the outflow from the little waterfall

Another dreamy view of the lake

Keywords: spruce railroad, storm king, waterfall, weather

08/18/16 - Storm King

Hurricane Ridge Road is being repaired. We were planning to climb to Klahane Ridge, but the line at the park entry station ran back past the Lake Dawn turn off. It looked like a long wait, so we made a U-turn and headed out to Barnes Creek determined to climb something or another. What we wound up climbing was Storm King, the peak dominating the south side of Lake Crescent.

To be honest, we only made it up to the ledge where we had a great view of Pyramid Peak and points north. Serious climbers go up another 300 feet or so to the actual peak, but we were at our limit. This trail is always challenging. Unlike the Switchback Trail up to Klahane Ridge, the Storm King trail never lets up. It is steep and demanding all the way. There are no easy switchbacks. Worse, it has been dry this year, so the trail was sand and pebbles, terrible footing.

Next time, it’s Klahane Ridge, for sure.

A good omen - We saw this woodpecker on our way to the climb.

Trail on a slope

A view from the ledge

A look down at the road

More of the trail

Keywords: barnes creek, lake crescent, storm king

03/20/16 - Spring on the Spruce Railroad Trail

We were out on the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent recently. We had a great view of Storm King with its upper reaches dusted with snow. There was also a lot of water flowing into the lake on the various little streams the trail crosses. Even better, a sign of spring, our first skunk cabbage of the year.

Storm King

One of the many streams

Another of the many streams

The trail

Our first skunk cabbage of spring

Keywords: lake crescent, spring, spruce railroad, storm king

08/16/15 - In Search of Water

This has been a dry summer, and it shows. Rivers just aren't flowing the way they usually do at this time of year. They're about a month or so off, with the current August flow more like the usual flow in late September. The trails are dry, too, with crumbly dirt and lots of loose pebbles.

In search of water we went to Barnes Creek and were pleased to see that Lake Crescent still has a fair bit of water. We started climbing the Mount Storm King trail to get a better view of the lake, but we didn't get far. The trail was crumbling, and it is a steep trail. If we were slipping on the way up, coming down would be treacherous. We turned around and took a look at Marymere Falls. It was nice to see some flowing water.

At the pebble beach we could see just how low the flow was in Barnes Creek. The river was much narrower and the beach much larger than usual. Then we walked a bit up the Barnes Creek trail and got a few glimpses of the river. We got our water fix, at least for now, but we're hoping for some real rain.

Water in the waterfall

A bright sunny day

Looking up Barnes Creek from the bridge

The forest and bright sunlight

More forest trail

Keywords: barnes creek, lake crescent, marymere falls, storm king, summer, trails

10/11/13 - Not All The Way Up Storm King

You can tell from our pictures that we didn't make it to the top of Storm King. We didn't even make it to the ledge where one gets a spectacular view of the strait and Vancouver Island. We did climb a bit, but we are already out of shape.

We hadn't taken this trail in some time, partly because it is the most daunting. It is the steepest climb that we have ever taken in the area, steeper than the Lake Angeles Trail and steeper than the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. We did get a peek or two at the lake and we greatly enjoyed the rainforest trees, twisting, turning and encased in moss, The madronas, as always, were mysterious.

A peek at the lake


More madronas

Another peek at the lake

The rainforest

Keywords: storm king

10/08/13 - Lake Crescent

The park may be closed, but Lake Crescent is still there, as is Storm King. We took a short walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail and enjoyed the scenery. We also ran into a late season salamander, so it isn't winter yet.

The lake and soft light

Storm King and its shadow

A late season salamander

Keywords: lake crescent, salamander, spruce railroad, storm king

08/29/12 - Storm King - A Little Bit Goes A Long Way

We weren't up to much, but we needed to get out and do something, so we planned a hike along Barnes Creek, but wound up climbing nearly 500 feet up Mount Storm King. That's not really that impressive, as it's 1350 feet to the overlook, but it was more than we had intended. We also walked a bit along Barnes Creek, but by this time we were too exhausted from our climb to go far.

It's easy to drive along the south shore of Lake Crescent and do nothing but admire the scenery, but it is well worth pulling into the Barnes Creek parking lot and exploring the area. The lodge is there, if you are planning to spend the night, and there's a boat ramp if you happen to have a boat on hand, but there is also the Barnes Creek trail. Most people take it to see Marymere Falls. We do often, but there are two other trails there. One heads south along Barnes Creek while the other heads up Mount Storm King. The latter is a brutal climb, but well worth it if you have the stamina to climb 1350 feet to the overlook which offers views of Pyramid Peak, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and Canada beyond.

Well, we didn't have quite the necessary stamina, but we had a great workout, and the scenery was terrific.

This little buck was climbing a log beside the trail.

Madronas in the rain forest

The trail - It is steeper than it looks.

Barnes Creek

Another view of Barnes Creek and an argument for HDRI (high dynamic range imagery)

Keywords: barnes creek, lake crescent, storm king, trails, marymere falls

03/31/11 - Spruce Railroad Spring Report

At long last, spring is coming to the Spruce Railroad Trail on Lake Crescent. On our most recent hike we were greeted by salamanders, and there was even a bit of wild currant in bloom. It was a typical cloudy day, and the mountains, still covered with snow, loomed mysterious.

Oh yes, the trail is a bit muddy.

"Welcome to the Spruce Railroad Trail."

Snow and clouds in the mountains and valleys

More mystery

Mount Storm King draped in cloud

The rocks are alive.

Some madronas

Some wild currant blossoms

Another salamander

Yet another salamander - There were a lot of them. We stepped carefully.

Keywords: lake crescent, salamander, spring, spruce railroad, storm king

02/06/10 - Storm King

The Storm King Trail, which starts near Barnes Creek, is probably the hardest trail we have ever managed. It is a relentlessly steep trail, and the challenge is in keeping going. We usually make it to about 1,450 feet above the parking lot, where there is a rocky outcrop with a spectacular view of Lake Crescent, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island beyond.

We didn't fare quite so well on our latest atttempt, but we did manage to get to about 1,200 feet up. The day was misty and overcast, and the trail was its usual, arduous self. Despite our failure to get to our favorite overlook, we were able to console ourself. After all, with all those clouds, the view was probably obscured anyway.

Across the Barnes Valley

Haunted country

The misty forest

One of the many spectacular madronas

A glimpse of the lake

A forest friend

Salal on the trail

Keywords: barnes creek, lake crescent, storm king

11/08/09 - More Snow on the Mountains

Storm King on the south shore of Lake Crescent got its first dusting of snow recently. The sky wasn't sure if it wanted to be blue or gray. That's typical in the autumn. The snow line on the mountain adds to the drama.

Storm King

The trail
The Spruce Railroad Trail itself is covered with leaves, and in places, it is turning into mud. It is as beautiful as ever, but expect muddy shoes and cuffs. That again is typical for this time of year.

Keywords: autumn, lake crescent, spruce railroad, storm king

01/17/09 - A Report on the Spruce Railroad Trail

The snows have melted at Lake Crescent, and the Spruce Railroad Trail is in pretty good shape. There are a few trees down and the usual seasonal mud, but even the bicyclists seemed to be getting through quite nicely. After the snows of December, we are ready to enjoy the January thaw.

The water was definitely a bit high. This is usually a little gravel beach west of the Devil's punchbowl.

You can see just a touch of snow on Storm King.

The trail is in good shape, but there are a few trees down.

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, storm king

11/19/07 - A Visit to the Spruce Railroad Trail

There was a big windstorm last week. We were lucky and got by with a fifteen minute power outage followed by a six hour DSL outage. West of Port Angeles power was out for days, and even some people in town had to wait days for the lights to come back on. The PUD, and the town electrical people, were running ragged. Trees were down all over the place, and the roads were a mess.

Even now, the park is still digging out. Hurricane Ridge Road is still closed, largely due to downed trees. We decided to take one of the more accessible trails at Lake Crescent, so we set out for the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north side of the lake. We didn't get far before our first obstacle. There was a big tree with lots of branches down across the trail (see the photo below). This did not bode well. We figured that we'd be clambering under and over tree trunks the entire walk, but we figured wrong. We actually made it three miles down the trail, to the "point", as we call it, and there were four, maybe five, trees down across the trail in all.

For our efforts, we were rewarded with the silvery lake, and some fantastic views of the mountains to the south. You can see the river clouds hanging over the Barnes Creek Valley in the photo to the right. There was a touch of snow on Storm King, but no solid snow line. There were lots of downed branches, and that gave us a wonderful opportunity. Rain forest trees, especially the big old maples, are covered with lichens, moss, Spanish moss, little ferns and the like, but these can be hard to see except rather low on the tree. There's just an overall impression of life and green-ness. With all the branches down, we got a better view. Below and to the right, there's a photo of a rather common lichen. It looks like a bunch of leaves, but the back is white. The algae get the sunny side and the funghi get the shady side, and they do very nicely together.

Clouds over the valley

This is the worst of the four or five trees across the trail

It looks like leaves, but it's windfall lichen

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, storm king, trails, barnes creek

10/01/06 - Tree Falls In Forest

We braved the climb at Storm King the other day. This is a hard hike, up 1350 feet from the Marymere Falls trail at Barnes Creek, and much like climbing a staircase, but the view from the overlook was stupendous. You can see Vancouver Island to the north, and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca full of sea fog.

There were a number of downed trees, though the Park Service has cleared the trail nicely. One of the most spectacular of the downed trees had fallen across the trail, and someone had counted the rings of its four or five foot cross section. You can see the cross section below and the fallen tree as seen from the trail above to the lower right.

Cross section of fallen tree at Storm King

Keywords: storm king, barnes creek, marymere falls

Lake Crescent Cloudy Panorama

03/01/06 - Lake Crescent Cloudy Day Panorama

One day we have to learn how to use the panorama mode on our digital camera. Either that, or they have to produce an Olympic National Park special camera with 8 megapixels with an 8 to 1 aspect ratio. That's Storm King as seen from across the lake, and it is mysterious and brooding. The higher resolution image you can view by clicking on the image above is all soft, discrete cosine transform ready gradients, so it should load real quickly. Thank you, all you joint photographic experts from the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), not that we have anything against the joint photographic experts from High Times.


Keywords: lake crescent, panoramas, storm king

View from Storm King

01/08/06 - The View From Storm King

Every so often we steel ourselves and drive out to the Barnes Creek area of Lake Crescent and climb Storm King. Storm King is one of the taller mountains on the south side of the lake, and it often creates its own rainshadow. Actually, we don't climb all the way to the top of Storm King. You need technical equipment, and a lot more oomph than we have, to do that. We climb about 1500 feet to the lookout to get a view of Lake Crescent and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. That's Pyramid Peak across the lake in the picture to the left.

On a damp day like this, the trail has good traction. Usually, it is rather dusty, so it is easy to go skidding down in a wave of dust and gravel. Barnes Creek was full of water, and if we had had the strength we would have gone over and checked out Marymere Falls. We did take a short video of Barnes Creek, which might be fun to watch if you like to watch running water.


Keywords: storm king, trails, lake crescent, barnes creek, marymere falls

11/07/05 - Lake Crescent Panorama and the Snowline

The poorly assembled panorama below was taken from the Spruce Railroad Trail. The big mountain towards the left is Storm King, and you can see the snowline running across it. This time of the year, winter moves from the north to the south, but it also moves from high above to down below. You can click on this image for a larger version if you like, and you have a fast connection.

Lake Crescent Panorama Showing Snowline


Keywords: lake crescent, panoramas, spruce railroad, storm king, winter

05/23/04 - Storm King

We climbed Storm King today. We spent the last month dreading it. It is a brutal climb with a lot of slippery scree. Naturally, we can never make a head on assault. We have to work indirectly, so we drove off to Sol Duc to check out the trail to Deer Lake. As we neared Barnes Creek, we slammed on the brakes and swerved into the Storm King parking lot. Before we knew what had hit us we were at 450', passing the ramada where a youth group was lunching. Around 1200', as we were passing the little side spur to the alpine overlook, we regained consciousness and realized that we were going to make it. You'll find a couple of new snapshots on our Barnes Creek et al page.

Keywords: storm king, deer lake, sol duc