Barnes Creek Trail, Lake Crescent - Storm King Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Barnes Creek Trail - 13.0 miles
Lake Crescent - Storm King Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||13.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||625' - 2,372' (2,375' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,747' net elevation gain (+2,310' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Barnes Creek Trail - 13.0 Miles Round-Trip
Barnes Creek Trail runs 4.3 miles from Lake Crescent to the Aurora Divide Trail split in Olympic National Park. It continues 2.2 miles as an unmaintained but well-defined path until reaching a natural impasse. Though it shares the same trailhead and first .7 miles with Marymere Falls, it sees a fraction of the traffic.
The trail passes through lowland old growth forests before rising away from the creek into old growth mid-elevation forests. There are many creek access points and interesting tributaries to explore along the way.
Visitors will enjoy diverse forests with large trees, a kinetic riparian environment and light crowds on Barnes Creek:
The trail begins at Storm King Ranger Station and heads north under Highway 101. It passes through a tunnel and resumes on a flat path to the Marymere Falls split (.7 miles : 686’). Keep left on Barnes Creek.
The trail rises under a thick canopy to an unmarked fork; take the right fork, which drops to a long log bridge over the creek (1.4 miles : 775’). Continuing past this split will bring you to a creek ford, which re-joins the trail just upstream of the bridge.
Mild, undulating travel continues beside the creek to log bridges over tumbling tributaries at 2.0 miles (1,032’) and 2.5 miles (1,125’). This second bridge is short but elevated, narrow and slippery - consider crossing in the creek.
Cascades along these tributaries and their confluences with Barnes Creek can be quite photogenic during peak runoff, and again in the fall when bigleaf and vine maple turn.
Travel steepens shortly past the second bridge on switchbacks, climbing 750' in just a mile to the trail’s only and brief view of Mt Storm King (4.1 miles : 2,005’).
Forest characteristics change from low to mid elevation old growth on this rapid climb away from the creek. The understory thins and opens with a good chance to see wildlife on this stretch.
Grades moderate under a notably tall canopy to the Aurora Divide split (4.3 miles : 2,110’). Bear left to remain on Barnes Creek (signed Barnes Creek – Dead End).
This unmaintained but well-defined section is covered in stair-step moss, dampening noise in an already quiet forest. The undulating path winds for 2 miles through a noticeably drier landscape before reaching its terminus at an impassable log jam just south of the creek (6.5 miles : 2,372’).
- N48 03.477 W123 47.308 — 0.0 miles: Storm King Ranger Station Trailhead - 610'
- N48 03.128 W123 47.285 — 0.7 miles: Marymere Falls Split - stay straight - 686'
- N48 02.997 W123 46.948 — 1.0 miles: Pass by backchannels of Barnes Creek - 722'
- N48 02.856 W123 46.587 — 1.4 miles: Bear right down to bridge - 772'
- N48 02.654 W123 46.102 — 2.0 miles: Cross scenic drainage - 1,032'
- N48 02.517 W123 45.668 — 2.5 miles: Trail rising away from creek - 1,125'
- N48 02.431 W123 45.266 — 3.0 miles: Cross tributary and begin climb - 1,255'
- N48 02.439 W123 44.985 — 3.5 miles: Steep switchbacks - 1,633'
- N48 02.272 W123 44.693 — 4.0 miles: Breaching montane ecosystem - 2,005'
- N48 02.108 W123 44.431 — 4.3 miles: Split for Aurora Divide - stay straight - 2,110'
- N48 02.289 W123 43.996 — 5.0 miles: Impressive fir and cedar forest - 2,210'
- N48 02.088 W123 43.656 — 5.5 miles: Steady climb in old growth forest - 2,316'
- N48 01.885 W123 43.202 — 6.0 miles: Continue level through forest - 2,375'
- N48 01.616 W123 42.778 — 6.5 miles: Trail dead-ends into impassable creek - 2,372'
- Lake Crescent lies in the Olympic Mountains rain shadow. While Olympic rainforests on the west side of the park may receive up to 150" of rain per year, forests on the north and east sides see less than 60".
- Geological records suggest that landslides from surrounding mountains 7,000 years ago divided what was once a larger lake into two separate lakes - Lake Crescent and neighboring Lake Sutherland.
- As a result of this closure to the sea, Lake Crescent has evolved a population of landlocked sockeye called Kokanee. They spend their entire lives in the lake and are smaller than their anadromous relative.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Camping is permitted along the Barnes Creek Trail with a backcountry permit (required). Permits can be obtained only at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles, WA.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
- Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
- The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $25 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($50 annual pass).
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Storm King - Marymere Falls Trailhead is located 18.75 miles west of Port Angeles at the Storm King Ranger Station in Olympic National Park.
From Port Angeles, drive 18.7 miles west on US 101 to the Storm King Ranger Station exit on the right (along the shore of Lake Crescent). Turn right off of 101 and then right again into the Storm King Ranger Station parking area.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office