I hiked to Lena Lake on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula recently. Lena Lake is a hugely popular hike, and crowds are common on the trail.
Lena Lake is not a hike for those seeking solitude. But it is good if you'd like to enjoy a well-built trail, a number of picturesque bridges, the sound of running water and an excellent spot for a picnic.
The trail to the lake has been re-routed, making the switchbacks long and easy. You can see that the Forest Service is working to keep people from cutting switchbacks here. In many areas, the terrain is starting to recover, but in some there are still scars from earlier hikers. Be nice to the greenery and stick to the main trail.
Anyways, the hike up gains about 1,300 feet in 2.5 miles and is never particularly steep. For much of the way you can hear nearby creeks, although you'll only see them a few times. The forest is rich and pretty. The bridges over the creeks and gullies are gorgeously constructed.
You'll reach the lake before you know it. Your first sight of it will be far below you on your right. Don't worry, you didn't miss a turnoff. Carry on and the trail will soon bring you closer to the lake. There are a number of backpacking spots here that also make good picnic areas.
Before you leave, be sure to walk to the far end of the lake. A creek tumbles into it there, begging for a photo from the log bridge that crosses it.
For those who want to carry on, there's another lake on a steeper and rougher trail another 4.5 miles on -- visiting upper Lena Lake means 14 miles roundtrip. I haven't been there myself, but I've heard it's lovely. And you'll certainly find more solitude. If you want to stay overnight, you'll need a permit from Olympic National Park. The trail enters the park a couple miles after leaving the lake.
If you go
Lena Lake can be done as a day hike from the Snohomish County area. It requires a bit of a drive and a ferry ride, but the trip is gorgeous. To get there, head to the Edmonds ferry. Take the ferry to Kingston and then head west on State Route 104. Follow this until you reach Highway 101 and then head south. About 23 miles later, turn right on Hamma Hamma Road. There is an obvious sign for the Hamma Hamma recreation area. The trailhead is 7.5 miles ahead and the road is paved the whole way. There's a privy at the trailhead.
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