VIA ONP: The Olympic Hot Springs Road in the Elwha Valley re-opened today above the Glines Canyon Overlook to the Boulder Creek Trailhead. Olympic National Park road and trail crews completed the demolition and removal of the Crystal Creek bridge on Boulder Creek Trail and installed an alternate route and foot log at that location to restore access for hikers. Stock access on Boulder Creek Trail will be restored later this fall after additional rock work is completed.
Damage from a rockfall event in the winter of 2014-2015 led to the closure of the Crystal Creek bridge. Further erosion resulted in increased destabilization. Inspection by Federal Highways geotechnical and structural engineers last June determined the bridge was unsafe for pedestrian and stock use.
This news also means that Boulder Lake is now accessible! If you haven’t hiked here yet, you need to add this to your list!
Starting out an a road now turned into a trail, the first few miles of this trail share the traffic from the numerous hikers making their way to the ever popular local hangout of the Olympic Hot Springs. While stopping here may seem tempting, save it for your return trip, or make a trip to the Hot Springs on a separate adventure in Olympic National Park. The hike to Boulder Lake is sure to gain popularity in the coming years, giving hikers an isolated trek to a remote, sparkling small mountain lake at the base of Boulder Peak, which stands 5,600 feet above sea level. The trail is easy to follow, steep at times and offers those who make the trek a slice of silence in the majestic wilderness of Olympic.
After 2 miles of sharing the trail with those looking to soak in Olympic Hot Springs, the trail to Boulder Lake branches off to the right, through the campground and to the actual trailhead to this remote lake. For the next mile, the trail weaves through old growth forests seemingly untouched by humanity, until your path meets a junction. To the left, the trail leads to Appleton Pass, eventually meeting with the Seven Lakes Basin of the Sol Duc Region. However, you will want to stay to the right, following the path to Boulder Lake as it slowly climbs higher and higher with every step. It is here on the trail that the wilderness takes over in full force, with all sounds of the world fading away, your ears hearing the wind in the trees and the birds above signing their songs of joy. For another mile or so, the trail climbs steeper and steeper as you near the lake.
After one last steep section, the trail hits its final intersection, giving you a small path on the left that leads to Boulder Lake. Clear greenish blue waters greet you below, while the beautiful and remote Boulder Peak rises above, giving Boulder Lake a feeling of awe and wonder unexpected after the journey to get here. Miles away, there may be dozens of people dipping in the hot springs, but at Boulder Lake, solitude greets those who trek up the trail, providing a perfect place to meditate, take a swim or eat a quick lunch before heading back. For those looking for more of an adventure, once you reach the intersection above the lake, you can follow the trail along Happy Lake Ridge, which eventually deposits you a mile away from your car on the road leading to the trailhead. The added loop is around 11 miles long and should only be done by those who know the region or are prepared to spend the night in the woods.
Permits are required for overnight camping in the Boulder Creek Camp area. Campfires are prohibited at the camp area and the hot springs due to extensive damage by visitors and subsequent revegetation efforts. Pets and bicycles are not permitted beyond the trailhead. For more information about backpacking and wilderness permits visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-permits.htm or call the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100.
For current road and travel information, visitors should consult the park website at www.nps.gov/olym or call the recorded Road and Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131.
Be inspired, explore Olympic National Park.