Spruce Railroad Trail, Lake Crescent - Spruce Railroad Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington

Spruce Railroad Trail - 8.0 miles

Lake Crescent - Spruce Railroad Trailhead

Lake Crescent is one of the largest lakes in all of Washington State

Lake Crescent is one of the largest lakes in all of Washington State

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Round-Trip Length: 8.0 miles
Start-End Elevation: 621' - 692' (721' Max Elevation)
Elevation Change: +71' net elevation change (+600' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Spruce Railroad Trail - 8.0 Miles Round-Trip

The Spruce Railroad Trail offers visitors an easy walk along the northern shore of majesic Lake Crescent. The trail follows an historic World War I rail-bed created to extract Sitka Spruce from the Olympic Peninsula.

The spruce trees were used in aviation construction due to their beneficial weight to stength ratio. The railway itself remained active into the 1950's before being abandoned and turned into the trail you see today.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

From its trailhead on North Shore Road, the well maintained path leads inland, rising gently through red alder and douglas fir trees to its crest at the half-mile mark (.5 miles : 721'). 

The trail then drops to the shore with lake views obstructed by dense foliage as the path now parallels the shoreline before reaching the Devil's Punchbowl Bridge (1.2 miles : 619').

The Devil's Punchbowl bridge leads across a small cove highlighting the deep turqoise waters of Lake Crescent. The cove's steep rock walls form the base of Pyramid Mountain. Views are now unobstrcuted with Mount Storm King clearly visible rising from the lake's southern shore.

Past the bridge, the trail closely hugs the shoreline remaining on an easy, level path. Evidence of ongoing rock slides become present (2.0 miles : 621') as the trail continues beneath the high rock walls of the lake's northern shore.

At 3.0 miles, the remains of a large railroad tunnel can be seen off-trail. Unstable rock and rough footing make the tunnel a hazard to visitors - please stay on the trail and admire the tunnel from afar.

The trail continues west along the north shore with excellent lake views. The Lake Crescent Lodge can be seen on the southern shore occupying the alluvial delta created by thousands of years of erosion. Aurora Ridge looms large behind the logde.

After turning inland (3.5 miles : 625') the trail rises through a mixed evergreen forest to its terminus at the western trailhead (4.0 miles : 692'). 

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Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

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  • N48 05.601 W123 48.144 — 0.0 miles: Spruce Railroad Trailhead
  • N48 05.297 W123 47.818 — 0.5 miles: Crest of Trail - 721' Elevation
  • N48 04.988 W123 47.258 — 1.2 miles: Devil's Punchbowl Bridge
  • N48 04.373 W123 47.494 — 2.0 miles: Rock slide area
  • N48 04.035 W123 47.789 — 2.5 miles: Beautiful lake and mountain vistas
  • N48 03.894 W123 48.254 — 3.0 miles: Old tunnel through mountain - remain on trail
  • N48 03.945 W123 48.751 — 3.5 miles: Trail leads away from lake into forest
  • N48 04.076 W123 49.507 — 4.0 miles: End of Spruce Railroad Trail

Worth Noting

  • Lake Crescent is one of the largest and most pristne lakes in Washington State.
  • The maximum depth of Lake Crescent is 624' wtih an average depth of 300'.
  • The cyrstal clear waters of Lake Crescent are due to a lack of nitrogren whose absence inhibits the growth of cloud-forming algae.
  • Measuring along its crescent shape, the lake is 12 miles long.
  • The lake's protected waters are home to Beardslee Trout (a subspecies of Rainbow Trout) as well as Kokanee - a landlocked species of salmon.
  • Lake Crescent used to be called Lake Everett after a Hudson Bay Company trapper who trapped for fur along the lakeshore.
  • Lake Crescent is a glaciated lake formed during the Ice Age and is believed to have been connected to neighboring Lake Sutherland until a major landslide separated the two bodies of water.

Camping and Backpacking Information

There is no backcountry or car camping allowed on the Spruce Railroad Trail - however there are established campgrounds in the area. Fairholme Campground Information Location: West End of Lake Crescent Open early April to late October. Amenities * 87 sites (one accessible) * Fire pits with grates, * Picnic tables * Potable water * Animal-proof food storage lockers * Accessible restrooms * RV dump station. The Log Cabin Resort runs a summer-only RV campground.

Fishing Information

Fishing is permitted on Lake Crescent. There is no Washington State Fishing License required to fish in Olympic National Park - however, a Washington State Catch Card is required. The lake has unique populations of Rainbow Trout (Beardslee) and Coastal Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki f. crescentii) trout, and also contains Kokanee.

Rules and Regulations

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times and may not be left tethered to any object. 
  • Pets cannot be left in vehicles unattended for any period of time.
  • Boating, Scuba Diving and Fishing Regulations Apply. 
  • There is no camping along the shoreline or near the waters of Lake Crescent.

Directions to Trailhead

From Port Angeles, Washington, take Highway 101 west to mile marker 232 and turn right at the NPS sign for Lake Crescent - East Beach Road. Take East Beach Road for 3.2 miles then turn left at the well-marked sign for the Spruce Railroad Trail. Continue .8 miles on North Shore Drive to the signed trailhead parking area.

Contact Information

Olympic National Park 
600 East Park Avenue 
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798 

General Park Visitor Information: 360.565.3130

Wilderness and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC): 360.565.3100 

Park Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center: 360.374.6925

Forks Information Station: 360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877 

Quinault Wilderness Information Office: 360.288.0232

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"One of the most underrated short hikes in Olympic NP! Took my wife and dog with no particular destination Sunday and headed west on Highway 101. We turned off before Lake Crescent and found ourselves at the Spruce Railroad Trail / Trailhead. I had read about the Devil's Punchbowl located on this trail so I was excited to check it out. This trail (more of a paved sidewalk for most of the way) runs the shore of Lake Crescent at the base of Pyramid Peak and across from Mount Storm King. The Punchbowl is a very cool, deep aqua blue pool accessible via bridge. You have to cross it to continue the trail. Anyhow, I highly recommend this one for any season!"
Hiking Maniac  -  Port Townsend, WA  -  Date Posted: November 12, 2013

 

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