Hiking Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park

Man's back to camera as he looks out over Lake Crescent at sunrise from Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is a must-visit destination for any nature lover. With its stunning scenery, vast array of wildlife and diverse terrain, this national park is one of the premier outdoor attractions in the United States. Among all of its hiking trails, Mount Storm King is undoubtedly one of the highlights. It is a short but challenging trek and but the rewards are many - including breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape from the summit. So, if you're planning a visit to Olympic National Park, here's why you should put Mount Storm King on your hike list.

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Mount Storm King hike logistics

Before embarking on your Mount Storm King adventure, it's essential to consider key logistics to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. The climb up Mount Storm King is a steep and strenuous one, covering a total distance of 4.2 miles (round trip) with an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet. The trail, which is well-marked and maintained, becomes increasingly demanding as you ascend, so it's advisable to be in good physical condition and carry adequate water and snacks. Parking facilities are available at the Storm King Ranger Station, located near the trailhead, but spaces can fill up quickly during peak times. Therefore, an early arrival is recommended to secure a parking space and to avoid the afternoon heat during summer.

Seattle, WA to Mount Storm King trailhead: 158 mi | 2 hr 56 min | Google Maps

Port Townsend, WA to Mount Storm King trailhead: 67 mi | 1 hr 25 min | Google Maps

Kalaloch to Mount Storm King trailhead: 70 mi | 1 hr 20 min | Google Maps

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center to Mount Storm King trailhead: 67 mi | 1 hr 26 min | Google Maps

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to Mount Storm King trailhead: 38 mi | 58 min | Google Maps

Where is the Mount Storm King trailhead?

The Mount Storm King trailhead is located within Olympic National Park, near Lake Crescent in Washington State. To be more specific, you can find the trailhead at the Storm King Ranger Station off Highway 101, roughly 20 miles west of Port Angeles. An information kiosk and restrooms are available here. Keep in mind that parking can get competitive during popular hiking times, hence starting your journey early can make a significant difference. Remember to also check the latest updates on road and trail conditions from the National Park Service's official site before setting off.

How much elevation gain is there on the Mount Storm King Hike?

2,106 feet or 641.9 meters. Keep in ming all of the elevation gain is on the way up.

How long is the Mount Storm King hike?

4.1 miles roundtrip  or 6.6 kilometers.

How long does it take to complete the Mount Storm King hike?

Due to the significant elevation gain in a relatively short distance the average hiker should figure that the Mount Storm King hike will take about one hour for every mile. On the way up you'll likely move much slower than on the way down since gravity works in your favor for the second half of the hike.


Three people stand on trail on the way up to the summit of Mount Storm King

What to expect of the trail

The Mount Storm King trail offers an invigorating experience, weaving through lush old-growth forests before ascending sharply to the mountain's peak. Along the way, hikers can anticipate encountering rugged terrain, including steep inclines, narrow switchbacks, and rocky outcrops. As the trail nears the end, hikers will need to utilize fixed ropes to navigate some of the more challenging sections. The final stretch of the trail opens up to an exposed ridge, rewarding climbers with awe-inspiring views of Lake Crescent and the surrounding wilderness. Despite its difficulty, the Mount Storm King trail truly offers a unique and exhilarating hiking experience.

Hiking Mount Storm King for sunrise

Experiencing a sunrise from the peak of Mount Storm King is a transcendent experience coveted by many adventurers. However, it requires meticulous planning as sunrise times vary throughout the year. Always check the sunrise timings for your intended hike day, then plan to start your hike early enough not only to reach the summit before sunrise, but also to allow time for unforeseen delays. Since a portion of your hike will likely take place in the dark, it's crucial to pack a reliable headlamp to illuminate the trail. Additionally, pack extra batteries, warm clothing layers (morning temperatures can be chilly, especially at higher elevities), and perhaps a thermos of a hot beverage to enjoy as the sun ascends. Remember, trails can be more challenging to navigate in low light, and wildlife may be more active during these hours. Therefore, even greater caution is required when hiking at dawn. Plan carefully, pack appropriately, and the reward will be a sunrise view that is nothing short of magical.

Wildlife in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is a wildlife enthusiast's paradise, home to a diverse range of species, including black bears, Roosevelt elk, mountain goats, cougars (mountain lions), and myriad bird species. Visitors may also spot marine life like seals and sea otters along the park's coastal regions. It's important to remember that these are wild animals, and their space must be respected for their safety and yours. Maintain a safe distance, do not feed or attempt to touch them, and certainly do not disturb their natural behaviors. Remember to pack out what you pack in to keep their habitats clean and undisturbed. Following these guidelines helps ensure a safe and enjoyable wildlife viewing experience, while also preserving the natural beauty of Olympic National Park for future generations.

Girl stands with back towards camera at summit of Mount Storm King at sunrise

Is the Mount Storm King hike dangerous?

The Mount Storm King hike can be considered challenging due to its steep inclines, narrow switchbacks, and rugged terrain. The last section of the hike involves navigating with the aid of fixed ropes, which can be intimidating for some. Additionally, environmental factors like weather conditions and wildlife can also present challenges. Therefore, while not necessarily "dangerous" for well-prepared and physically fit hikers, it's certainly a hike that demands caution, respect for the natural environment, and an understanding of one's limits. Hikers should always follow safety guidelines, be aware of their surroundings, and ensure they have the appropriate gear for the journey.

Tips for Hiking Mount Storm King

If you're planning to hike Mount Storm King, you need to be well prepared. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Wear comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes that can handle rough terrain and be layered up with appropriate clothing. It would also be best to start the hike early in the morning, especially in the peak season, to avoid crowds and ensure ample daylight for the trek. Here are our top 10 tips for hiking Mount Stork King in Washington's Olympic National Park.

  1. Start Early: The trail can get quite busy, and parking is limited. An early start not only ensures a parking spot but also allows you to enjoy the trail at a more relaxing pace.
  2. Pack Plenty of Water and Snacks: The hike is strenuous, and you'll need to stay hydrated and energized. Aim for 1 liter of water per two hours of hiking and pack high-energy snacks like trail mix or energy bars.
  3. Wear Proper Hiking Boots: The trail involves steep inclines and rocky terrain. Good hiking boots with ankle support and excellent grip are a must to prevent ankle injuries and slips.
  4. Take Trekking Poles: Trekking poles can take some of the strain off your knees on the descent and can provide extra balance on uneven ground.
  5. Dress in Layers: Temperatures can vary greatly from the base to the peak. Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing as necessary.
  6. Bring a Map and Compass/GPS: While the trail is well-marked, it's always a good idea to have a map and compass or GPS as a backup.
  7. Respect Wildlife: If you encounter any wildlife, keep your distance, and do not feed or disturb the animals.
  8. Leave No Trace: Pack out all your trash and leave the trail as you found it for others to enjoy.
  9. Check the Weather: Weather conditions can change rapidly. Check the weather forecast before you start your hike and be prepared to turn back if conditions deteriorate.
  10. Inform Someone of Your Plans: Always let someone know where you're going and when you plan to return. This is a simple step that could be vital in case of an emergency.
Man walks under fallen tree in Olympic National Park

What to pack for the hike

  1. Garmin inReach Mini 2: We never set off on a trail without this emergency SOS device. Yes it comes with a price tag but it's one of the best investments we've ever made.
  2. Backpack: A sturdy and comfortable backpack to carry all your essentials.
  3. Plenty of Water: Aim for 1 liter of water per 2 hours of hiking.
  4. High-energy Snacks: Bring trail mix, energy bars, or fruit to keep you energized.
  5. Hiking Boots: Choose sturdy boots with good grip and ankle support.
  6. Trekking Poles: These can provide balance on uneven terrain and reduce strain on your knees.
  7. Layered Clothing: Temperatures can vary greatly, so dress in layers. If you're not sure how to layer properly, checkout this layering for hiking guide.
  8. Map and Compass/GPS: Even though the trail is well-marked, having these as backups is always a good idea.
  9. Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  10. First Aid Kit: Include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any necessary personal medication.
  11. Headlamp: Even if you don't plan on hiking in the dark like we did for sunrise, always pack a headlamp just in case!
  12. Survival Essentials: These include a knife or multi-tool, headlamp or flashlight, and a whistle. For more information about wilderness preparedness, be sure to checkout Trail Blazers for great advice.
  13. Rain gear: Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, always pack a lightweight waterproof jacket.
  14. Camera: Capture the breathtaking views.
  15. Trash Bag: Remember the Leave No Trace principles and pack out all your trash.
  16. Hat and Sunglasses: To protect from sun exposure.

Are dogs allowed on Mount Storm King?

No, dogs are not allowed on the Mount Storm King trail. This is in line with the policies of most national parks which aim to preserve wildlife habitats and ensure the safety of both the animals and park visitors. It's always important to respect these regulations and consider the potential impacts on the environment and wildlife. If you're looking for somewhere dog-friendly in Olympic National Park, consider visiting Kalaloch Beach.

Man squatting take a picture with a Sony camera at the summit of Mount Storm King at sunrise in Olympic National Park, Washington

Final thoughts

Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park is a fantastic hike that is highly recommended for experienced hikers who want an adrenaline-filled adventure and a memorable experience. Its stunning scenery, wildlife, and challenging trail will reward you with breathtaking views and a host of unforgettable moments. So, gear up, be well-prepared, and make sure your camera is fully charged! Head up the Mount Storm King this season to enjoy the best experience in Olympic National Park.

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Hiking Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park, Washington

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