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West Elwha

Olympic Peninsula


Olympic Peninsula -- Pacific Coast
View map below


6.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 500 ft.
Highest Point: 650 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
Bridge out: A bridge washed out on the trail has rendered a creek crossing dangerous.

When you hike the West Elwha trail you can almost, if you listen very closely, hear the clip-clops of horses and mules and voices of the past. This was one of the two main pack train routes for getting people and supplies up to the historic Olympic Hot Springs Resort before the days of the automobile.

Up the trail came the sawmill in sections, cast iron cooking stoves, mattresses, furniture and everything else necessary to stock the popular resort. Bert Herrick charged 2 cents per pound, and did this business for 10 years before the road finally went in. Today, hiking the West Elwha Trail is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. It is also one of the ways to get yourself into the Elwha Valley with the Olympic Hot Springs road closed until an undetermined date. The Elwha River has reclaimed the road. Until the Park Service gets a section of the road moved up, we will need to hike farther to get into the valley. This is a lovely way to go.

It is rather unusual how this trail starts out off of Herrick Road, as you are walking along the edge of private property. Soon enough though, you’ll pass the national park boundary sign and immediately settle into all this trail has to offer. Like all of the west-side Olympics, it is lush and deeply green. Occasionally you get sweeping views of the newly freed Elwha River, and the quintessential side creeks pouring over moss-covered boulders await your admiration.

At the end of the trail is the site of the former Altair Campground. Taken by the meandering river several years ago, one can still easily imagine the campfires of the past. It’s a nice spot for lunch before you head on into the valley, or return the way you came.


West Elwha

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.0318, -123.5959 Open map in new window


Olympic Peninsula -- Pacific Coast

West Elwha (#54)

Olympic National Park

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula 2nd Ed. (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Olympic Mountains East No. 168S map

Buy the Green Trails Hurricane Ridge/Elwha North No. 134S map

Getting There

From the junction of Highway 101 and 112, continue west on 101 for 3.9 miles and turn left on Herrick Road. Trailhead is at the end of this road. There is only room for about 3 cars to park here. 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
Bridge out: A bridge washed out on the trail has rendered a creek crossing dangerous.

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West Elwha

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