If you're looking for an invigorating and rewarding hike, then Mount Ellinor is a must-do. Located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, this small mountain is a popular destination for mountaineers and hikers alike.
With hundreds of successful climbs all year round, the challenge of scaling Mount Ellinor (5,866') is both exhilarating and rewarding. It's also one of the most popular hikes in Olympic National Park. Keep reading to learn about this challenging hike up Mount Ellinor!
The Mount Ellinor Trail
If you're looking for a challenging but rewarding hike in the Olympic Mountains (one of the mountain ranges of Washington and Oregon), Mount Ellinor is an excellent option. With two distinct trailheads, you can choose which route is best for your skill level and preferences (and also based on how far you want to hike!).
From the Lower Trailhead, it's a total of six miles out and back. From the Upper Trailhead, it's about 1/2 the total length.
The Upper Trailhead is near the end of Forest Service Road 14. There is a bathroom at the upper and lower trailheads. From the trailhead, the trail begins by winding through forested areas with plenty of streams and creeks. It then turns into a steep uphill hike through rocky terrain, eventually leading to open meadows with incredible views of the surrounding area.
About 0.7 miles along, the trail divides, with the winter trail veering off right.
The Lower Trailhead is located off Forest Rd 2419 in Olympic National Park. From here, you'll be taken through a series of switchbacks, making your way up the mountain and eventually meeting up with the trail about 0.3 miles beyond the Upper Trailhead.
No matter which trailhead you choose, once you reach the top, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Mount Washington and the surrounding area.
Did you know? Olympic National Park is one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States.
Love learning about national parks? Read more surprising facts about Olympic National Park.
However, keep in mind that this hike can be very different - and more dangerous - in winter months. Be sure to check the weather before venturing out, and make sure to bring appropriate equipment (keep reading for our suggestions on what to bring for a Mount Ellinor hike!).
The Summit and View from the Top
Reaching the summit of Mount Ellinor is a unique experience that can vary drastically depending on the season. During the winter months, the climb is a difficult but rewarding challenge as the snow-covered trails make for a treacherous yet picturesque ascent.
Crampons and ice axes may be necessary to traverse the steep icy slopes. However, once at the top, climbers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains and Mount Washington.
On the other hand, summer ascents are much easier, albeit still quite strenuous (and incredibly popular!). The trail is generally clear of snow and provides stunning views of the rugged Olympic National Park. As you ascend higher, you’ll come across lush subalpine meadows that lead up to a rocky ridge where you can take in the sweeping vistas of Washington's mountains.
The final stretch is a scramble over some loose rocks, which leads to the summit. From there, you can enjoy expansive views of the Olympic Mountains and, on a clear day, all the way to Puget Sound and Mount Rainier!
What to Bring
When planning to climb Mt. Ellinor, it's important to make sure you're prepared with the right gear for the season. Located in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State and part of the Olympic National Park, Mt. Ellinor is a popular and challenging mountaineering objective for climbers of all skill levels.
For summer climbs, it’s recommended to bring a lightweight, breathable jacket or windbreaker, a hat, gloves, trekking poles, water bottles, food and snacks, and a headlamp. For footwear, make sure you have sturdy hiking boots or trail running shoes. Additionally, you should bring appropriate clothing layers depending on the weather that day.
In winter months, the gear list is similar but more specialized. Extra layers of clothing will be needed, such as thermal underwear, insulating mid-layers like a down or synthetic jacket and insulated pants, and a waterproof outer shell. You should also pack goggles, crampons, and an ice axe for safety. Additionally, you should bring extra layers of socks, mittens, a warm hat, and food and drinks to keep your energy up during the ascent.
No matter when you decide to tackle Mount Ellinor, it’s important to come prepared with the right gear and attire for the season in order to maximize your success and safety. Plus, there are many amazing camping areas that aren't far from the mountain, including Lena Creek Campground. If you want to stay slightly further away, check out the incredible Salt Creek Campground in Port Angeles and the Fairholme Campground on the banks of Lake Crescent.
Tips for Success
Pick the Right Season: When planning your Mt. Ellinor hike, keep in mind that the trail is most accessible between May and October. It can be extremely treacherous during winter months due to snow, ice, and low visibility.
Keep the Distance in Mind: The trail is approximately five miles round trip, with an elevation gain of more than 2,500 feet. As you ascend, the vegetation changes from lush forest to rocky slopes, with stunning views of the Olympic Mountains.
Bring the Right Gear: Be sure to bring plenty of warm clothing and waterproof gear, as temperatures can drop quickly in the mountains. The trail is known for its abundant water sources, making it easy to replenish your supply (especially if there is a lot of snowmelt).
No matter what time of year you visit Mt Ellinor, be sure to come prepared and take the necessary precautions. It can be a difficult yet rewarding journey, providing an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Olympic Mountains.