Flapjack Lakes, Staircase - North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Flapjack Lakes - 14.9 Miles
Staircase - North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||14.9 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||853' - 3,850' (3,867' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,997' net elevation gain (+3,315 total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The Flapjack Lakes are located 7.45 miles from the Staircase - North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead in Olympic National Park.
The two lakes are separated by a thin isthmus in a heavily wooded basin below Mount Gladys (5,589'), Mount Cruiser (6,104') and Mount Lincoln (5,868).
A well-groomed path follows the North Fork Skokomish River 3.7 miles to the Flapjack Lakes Trail, where travel intensifies for 3.75 miles in a subalpine forest to the lakes. Visitors will enjoy miles of river access, diverse flora and excellent camping and fishing at Flapjack Lakes:
The trail heads north on gentle grades in a second generation forest. It fords a minor creek near a washed out bridge (.4 miles : 825'), and keeps a fast pace through impressive collections of older cedar and fir.
You'll reach the Rapids Loop Trail split at .98 miles (950'), whose connecting bridge over the North Fork washed away in the mid-2000s.
It continues with frequent river access to Slide Camp (1.55 miles : 985'), and into the Beaver Burn area of August 1985 (1.75 miles : 985').
Travel is generally mild and uneventful through this section (1.75 - 3.0 miles), an ideal stretch to make up time in advance of more demanding sections ahead.
Grades pick up to the Flapjack Lakes Trail (3.75 miles : 1,515'), which branches NE and steepens into a richer forest. Large cedar and fir dominate the canopy, while Oregon grape and salal fill the understory. Occasional breaks in the timber reveal surrounding peaks and the yawning Skokomish corridor.
The trail dips to a scenic bridge spanning a gorge in Madeline Creek (5.35 miles : 2,098'), past which grades steepen considerably to a cascade and waterfall on Donahue Creek (6.8 miles : 3,128').
Terrain moderates above the fall, where several nice campsites are located along the creek - good alternatives to the oft-crowded lake sites, with the bonus of permissible campfires. Note the predominance of silver and subalpine fir at these elevations.
The trail splits again for Black and White Lakes and Flapjack Lakes (7.1 miles : 3,380'), curling back south on a short but exceedingly steep climb to Flapjack Lakes (7.45 miles : 3,850').
Social trails circle the area to various campsites, and across the narrow isthmus separating the two lakes. A marked trail continues above the lakes to Gladys Divide, where mountain goat sightings are common.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N47 30.959 W123 19.685 — 0.0 miles : North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead
- N47 31.208 W123 19.956 — .4 miles : Cross creek (bridge out)
- N47 31.493 W123 20.472 — .98 miles : Rapids Loop Trail split (bridge out)
- N47 31.690 W123 21.009 — 1.55 miles : Slide Camp spur
- N47 31.834 W123 21.487 — 2.1 miles : Pass through Beaver Fire area
- N47 32.326 W123 22.090 — 3.0 miles : Fast travel on steady grade
- N47 32.689 W123 22.593 — 3.7 miles : Flapjack Lakes Trail split
- N47 33.070 W123 22.445 — 4.5 miles : Trail steepens in richer forest
- N47 33.694 W123 21.973 — 5.35 miles : Cross bridge over Madeline Creek
- N47 33.994 W123 21.573 — 6.1 miles : Trail grows very steep
- N47 34.025 W123 20.936 — 6.8 miles : Cascade on Donahue Creek
- N47 33.941 W123 20.673 — 7.1 miles : Flapjack Lakes spur split
- N47 33.721 W123 20.513 — 7.45 miles : Flapjack Lakes
- Campsites fill quickly at Flapjack Lakes and privacy is limited, especially on summer weekends. Campsites along nearby Donahue Creek are a nice alternative, and fires are permitted.
- The trail climbs over 2,300' in 3.7 miles from the Flapjack Lakes Trail split. Travel to the split is generally mild and uneventful, an ideal stretch to make quick time in advance of more demanding sections ahead.
- The Staircase was first named by the O'Neil Expedition, who cut zigzag trails up ridges, felled trees against cliffs, and covered logs with brush and dirt to create a stair-like path for pack mules up prohibitively steep terrain. Today Staircase also describes the tiered rapids one mile upstream from the trailhead.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- There's a $5 registration fee per group, + $2 per person per night (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time.
- Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for Flapjack Lakes. 50% of sites can be reserved in advance; the other 50% is available first come, first served from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance. Self registration is not permitted during this time.
- Camp only in established sites, which are located around the lake.
- Food Storage: Bear canisters are not required, but are recommended.
- Fires: Campfires are permitted up to 3,500'. Fires are not permitted at Flapjack Lakes.
- 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 $15 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($30 annual pass).
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
The Staircase - North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead is located in the southeast quadrant of Olympic National Park, 15.7 miles from HWY 101 on 119 North.
Highway 119 is accessible in Hoodsport, WA. The Staircase entrance is located on the north end of Cushman Lake.
Staircase is approximately 105 miles from Seattle, 75 miles from Tacoma, and 95 miles from Port Angeles.
From Highway 101 in Hoodsport, turn onto 119. Note the road splits at 9.1 miles and turns to dirt for several miles before turning back to pavement for the last 1.2 miles. The dirt road is well maintained but subject to washouts and dust-outs.
The North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead is located on the right, just before reaching the ranger station.
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)
Staircase Ranger Station: 360.877.5569
Seasonal Hours: June 24 - September 2: Open 8:30 - 5, Friday - Sunday
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office