Lake Crescent sits entirely within the boundaries of Washington State’s Olympic National Park. This deep glacial lake averages about 300 feet deep, but drops to 624 feet at its deepest. The crescent shape gives the 17-mile long lake its name. It’s one of the few places inside the park with lodging other than campgrounds. There is a lodge with a restaurant and some cabins, but you may need to reserve quite early to stay in them. There was nothing available at the lodge or cabins a month and a half in advance when I looked into staying there so we ended up booking a nearby Airbnb instead. The historic lodge was built in 1917 from locally milled timber. The original log cabins built in 1895 burned down in 1932 and the current log cabin resort was built on the same spot in the early 1950’s.
While it feels like the middle of nowhere with mountains and forest all around, the lake is actually only about 17 miles west of Port Angeles which may not be a huge metropolis, but it is one of the larger cities on the Olympic Peninsula. The much smaller towns of Joyce and Piedmont are closer to the lake. Highway 101, which is the main route around the peninsula runs along one edge of the lake so it’s not hard to find.
The main lodge and the log cabin resort are not next to each other and are accessed from different roads. The lodge is just off 101 on Lake Crescent Road while the log cabin resort is on East Beach Road near the access to East Beach and the trailhead to the Spruce Railroad Trail. The main lodge is not all in one building. The not all that big main building houses the restaurant, bar, and gift shop, and lodgings are sprawled about the area in different sections. The restaurant is only open at mealtimes, but in between people can order food to go at the bar from the restaurant menu and eat it in the attached sunroom with a lovely view of the lake.
Some trails can be accessed from the main lodge area or the nearby Storm King Ranger Station. Others are accessed from different points around the lake. There’s a viewpoint with parking where people can pull off Highway 101 for photos or to read the informative signs there.
The Spruce Railroad Trail runs along one side of the lake. It is also part of the Olympic Discovery Trail, which runs across the north end of the Olympic Peninsula. It is one of the few trails within the Olympic National Park that allows dogs. They are also allowed in some of the cabins.
In the summer there are boat rides and kayak rentals available. The lake’s waters are very clear and there are swimming beaches. There’s also a variety of hiking trails, some short and easy and others long and steep. Olympic National Park’s website says that passes are required throughout the park. These can be purchased online and printed out, which is what the site recommends. Some areas of the park like Hurricane Ridge and Hoh Rainforest have gateways you have to pay or show a pass to go through, but we did not see any of those at Lake Crescent nor anyone checking for passes anywhere near the lodge or trailheads during our visit there.
We had lunch at the lodge one stormy day. The lake was full of whitecaps and we didn’t see any boats out and about. The salads we ordered were tasty, but the portion small for the price. It was a good thing they included a knife as well as a fork because the pieces were way too big to shovel into your mouth without cutting them first.
The next day brought calm clear weather and we saw several kayaks out on the lake while hiking on the Spruce Railroad Trail, which has great lake views since most of the trail parallels the edge of the lake.
Lake Crescent is a nice place to go for a visit to Olympic National Park since there are a variety of things to do and see there, and nearby lodging is available outside of the park as well as what is offered within.
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Thanks, and the same to you.
Beautiful part of the country. The Park is definitely on the to-do list if we get out that way.
It’s a park with something for everyone since it includes beaches, mountaintops, and everything in between.