The notoriously steep Putvin Trail takes hikers up and into the highest reaches of Olympic National Park and to the banks of the divine Lake of the Angels. Surrounded by startlingly beautiful scenery, this tough hike is well worth the effort!
If you're up for a challenge, you can also choose to scramble to the summits of either Mount Skokomish or Mount Stone. But be aware! These hikes are not the faint of heart and require some difficult scrambling up to class three if you stay on the trail.
Make sure to check out our Complete Guide to Olympic National Park for everything you need to know before visiting!
Best Time for Lake of the Angels Hike
The best time to visit the Lake of the Angels is in late spring, summer, or early fall. Keep in mind that the area does get significant snowfall, so in the spring and even early summer, there's a chance you'll encounter snow on the way up to the lake. Additionally, mosquitoes can be quite an issue at the lake. Be prepared with only the strongest bug spray!
Lake of the Angels - Need to Know
Park Hours: All entrances are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Entrance Fee: There is NO entrance fee. This area of the park is not regulated by a ticketing system.
No dogs are allowed by the National Park boundary.
No stoves or fires are allowed within the park.
In summer, you can expect highs in the mid-60s and lows in the mid-40s.
In the winter, you can expect highs in the low-30s and lows in the mid-20s.
The Lake of the Angels trailhead is also the start of the Putvin Trail.
Map and Directions
Use the map below to navigate to the Putvin Trailhead, which will take you to the Lake of the Angels.
Trailhead Coordinates: 47.583612217998855, -123.2340158375307
The Putvin Trailhead is a pullout on the left side of Hamma Hamma Road, about 10 minutes beyond Lena Creek Campground. It's marked by a sign on the right side of the road at the official start of the trail.
Signs at the Putvin Trailhead
Putvin Trail Parking
The parking lot is a dirty pull-out that fits around 20 cars. It is fairly easy to access along Hamma Hamma Road, with only a few sections of potholes to avoid.
Hiking to Lake of the Angels
The hike along the Putvin Trial to the Lake of the Angels is not for the faint of heart! Although it begins fairly tame, the trail soon rises through the Olympic rainforest and well above the heads of most hikers in the park on any given day.
The trail starts out on fairly easy terrain with only a slight gain in elevation. You'll enjoy the sound of Boulder Creek on the right-hand side as you move through the trees and next to some very large, impressive boulders. The forest is quite peaceful and quiet.
In about 5-10 minutes, you'll pass through a memorial to Carl Putvin, who passed away in 1913. The small detour to his grave, which will appear on the left side of the trail, is well worth the five minutes to go see it. It's unique among trails in this area, or anywhere, and is something of a curiosity.
Carl Putvin was a trapper who lived in the area and died after going out to hunt and provide for his family. The trail is named in his memory.
Shrine to the memory of Carl Putvin.
From here, the trail rises, dipping in and out of two river beds, one of which is usually totally dry. You'll start on a traverse along the side of the slope will little elevation gain before meeting an old logging road. Take this road to the left.
At around 2,400,' after turning off the logging road, you'll start the serious part of the climb. The trail quickly gains elevation and forces you through winding, sometimes hard-to-follow root scramble. The trail moves from small flat sections to steep, dirty steps supported by roots. There are a few downed trees in this area too.
The last 1.6 miles of the trail are "unmaintained." This means that the Forest Service does not cut away blowdowns or improve the path in any way. The only reason it exists is that people walk on it. You'll eventually hit a scrambling section.
There was at one point a permanent rope in place (as of early September 2022, the rope is gone) that you could use to pull yourself up the often slick and wet rocks in this area. The trail is very exposed here, and you'll want to take your time. But, it can be easily passed by anyone in reasonably good condition.
There are only a few places to get water in this area, depending on the time of year. You'll want to make sure that if you need water, you get it.
Views along the Lake of the Angels trail. Mount Pershing is in the middle distance.
The next section of the trail is less steep, moderating as you get into views of Mt. Pershing and the Hamma Hamma valley. There should be some cairns strategically placed to help navigate you to your destination.
This is one of the most popular hikes in the park; if you like it, check out our guide to the 10 Best Hikes in Olympic National Park.
The trail moves into a small meadow where you can enjoy the mucky waters of the Pond of the False Prophet at 2.75 miles in and 4,520.' Keep an eye open for tadpoles here! Head left across a bridge over the pond's inlet and then past the Olympic National Park Boundary sign at 3.2 miles.
After a quick switch back or two, you'll be at the lake! It's at 4,888' feet and 3.6~ miles.
If you're headed back the way you came, make sure to take the time to admire Mt. Stone above the lake and look slightly to the right to see the interestingly named St. Peters Pass, where climbers ascend to reach Mt. Stone's summit. In the distance, you might also get a glimpse of Mt. Skokomish.
Did You Know? Olympic National Park is nearly 1,000,000 acres.
From here, you'll need to enjoy your time at the lake before turning around and making your way back to the parking lot. Keep reading for information about camping at Lake of the Angels.
Read more facts like this in our 13 Surprising Facts about Olympic National Park article.
Lake of the Angels Camping
If you want to spend the night at the Lake of the Angels and are willing to brave the mosquitos and steep trail to get there, you'll have a few different small campsites to choose from. But, you'll need a wilderness permit.
It may be worth it to spend the night after taking the Putvin Trail so high into Olympic National Park, especially if you're going to take the time to ascend Mt. Stone or Mt. Skokomish.
Note: campfires and pets are prohibited within the National Park.
Where is Olympic National Park located?
Olympic National Park is located in Washington State. It is a large national park in the Olympic Peninsula. Popular cities to stay in near the park include Olympia, Seattle, and Port Angeles.
How big is Olympic National Park?
Olympic Park is nearly 1,000,000 acres. It is one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48 states and is popular with hikers, backpackers, fishers, bird and wildflower watchers, and more.
Is Lake of the Angels good for backpacking?
Lake of the Angels is a great backpacking destination! But, it's not an easy one. It'll likely take you at least 4 hours to get to the lake on less-than-deal terrain. Plus, the lake is known for being a breeding ground for mosquitos. But, that being said, it is very beautiful.
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