Hiking Pyramid Peak in Olympic National Park | An Adventure Guide

While Mount Storm King might get most of the fanfare in Olympic National Park, we instead recommend heading a bit more off the beaten path and hiking up to the top of Pyramid Peak — a stunning forested trail that leads to remarkable views of Lake Crescent, the snowy Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and even Canada.

We were actually recommended this trail by one of the national park rangers after explaining we were looking to do a tougher hike that led to a mountain top (we have a thing about summits). After giving us a couple of options he mentioned that this one was more of a hidden gem and would likely have way fewer people than many of the other trails in the area. Sold.

After making our way to the trailhead and spending about five minutes on the beautiful forested singletrack trail we were definitely thinking we made the right call. For even on a busy Saturday morning we only saw a handful of people — and this was on a weekend where there were zero parking spots left at the Lake Crescent/Storm King Ranger Station parking area. And of the few people we did see on the way up, we only had to contend with four of them on the actual mountain summit. Now that is a pretty hard thing to beat in a place as busy as Olympic National Park.

So if you are like us and are looking to do an awesome, somewhat challenging hike in Olympic National Park, then we cannot recommend Pyramid Peak enough. We honestly think it is one of the most underrated (but fun) hikes in the whole national park. Below is an in-depth guide on the beautiful hike — including how to reach the trailhead, what to bring with you and what to actually expect on the trail.

\\ How to Get to the Pyramid Peak Trailhead

Even though the trailhead is in Olympic National Park, there are a couple of transportation options on how to get there. While driving your own vehicle is definitely the most straightforward and fastest route, you also have the option to take a public bus and even bike.

DRIVING TO THE TRAILHEAD

FROM PORT ANGELES AND LAKE CRESCENT

It is just over 30 miles from downtown Port Angeles to the Pyramid Peak Trailhead. This drive should take around 47 minutes to do. To start, drive out on Highway 101 towards the town of Forks (west). Keep driving all the way around Lake Crescent until you see signs for the Spruce Railroad Trail and Fairholme Campground. Turn right at the signs onto Camp David Junior Road. Keep driving on this paved road around the lake until it turns to dirt. Keep driving on the dirt road (don’t worry it is well-graded and you do not need a 4x4 vehicle) until you get to a cow grate and you see cars parked on the side. There will also be a trailhead marker for both the Pyramid Peak Trail and the Spruce Railroad Trail (which is part of the much longer Olympic Discovery Trail).

Park here, making sure you are not blocking the road, and then cross over the paved bike trail up above the parking area. There is also lake access just down the way at the North Shore Picnic Area (as well as a bathroom).

FROM SEATTLE

It takes roughly 3 hours and 20 minutes to go from downtown Seattle to the Pyramid Peak Trailhead. This route includes both driving and taking a ferry (more on that in a second). Or, if you don’t feel like taking a ferry, you can also drive all the way down to the Tacoma/Olympia area via Interstate 5 and then up and around the Puget Sound until you reach Highway 101 near Discovery Bay.

If you are okay with taking a ferry, then your best option is to ride the Seattle to Bainbridge Ferry (which departs from the Seattle Ferry Terminal) and then drive from the cute town of Bainbridge Island all the way to Port Angeles, which is roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes away. Once you make it to Port Angeles, you just need to keep heading west on Highway 101 until you get to the turn off for Spruce Railroad Trail and Fairholme Campground.

From Highway 101 it is approximately 3 miles down Camp David Jr Road to the trailhead.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

If you don’t feel like driving to the trailhead, or if you don’t have a car available, then you can also take a public bus from Port Angeles to the turn off onto Camp David Jr Road and then walk from there. The best place to pick up the bus in Port Angeles is at the Gateway Transit Center, which is located in downtown Port Angeles near the town visitor center and the Black Ball Ferry Line.

There is actually a designated bus stop at the intersection of Highway 101 and Camp David Jr Road, so don’t worry about missing it.

From the bus stop, you just simply have to walk the three miles from the intersection to the trailhead via the road (don’t worry, it isn’t that busy of a road).

The final option for reaching the trailhead is to bike along the Olympic Discovery Trail, which passes right in front of the trailhead. You can reach the paved bike trail in Port Angeles, or at numerous trailheads along the way. The closest biking trailhead to the Pyramid Peak Trailhead is going to be at the opposite end of the Spruce Railroad Trail near Piedmont. From that trailhead, you also have the option to stop and see the very scenic Devil’s Punchbowl.

\\ The Best Time to Hike Pyramid Peak

While you can hike up to the top of Pyramid Peak anytime between April and October, in our opinion, it is a great trail to take on between mid-June and mid-July because you will likely see a whole lot of wildflowers along the trail. Likewise, because the trail is so shaded (you are in the forest all the way until the very end) you can definitely do this hike even during the hottest part of the day and year.

We do suggest though that if you do want to hike Pyramid Peak in the summer — the busiest time of year to visit Olympic National Park — you should try to arrive at the trailhead early, especially on a weekend. We ended up showing up at the Pyramid Peak trailhead just after 9 AM on a Saturday and there were already a good handful of cars parked.

\\ What to Bring With You to Hike Pyramid Peak

Because the Pyramid Peak trail is located on the Olympic Peninsula — one of the wettest places in the USA — you should always come prepared for changing weather and muddy conditions. Below are a couple of things to consider packing with you when taking on the beautiful hiking trail.

HIKING SHOES

You will want to wear shoes that can handle various types of terrain: from slick sections near the infamous landslide section (more on that below) to some muddy areas near small creeks. These boots by Vasque seem to be a jack of all trades and therefore should be able to handle whatever the mountain throws at you — both along the Pyramid Peak trail and on other exciting Olympic National Park hikes. Recommended hiking boot.

HIKING SOCKS

These socks can easily go from hitting the trails to hanging out at a coffee shop post-hike due to their moisture-wicking properties and slightly elastic stretch. Plus, they are made partially of recycled materials — meaning they are good for you and the planet. Recommended hiking socks from Smartwool.

MOISTURE-WICKING SHIRT

No matter the month you are planning to hike in, you will likely want to wear a nice lightweight long-sleeved shirt on the trail. This one by Backcountry works great as your base layer for it is lightweight and breathable enough for those hot sunny days but also insulated enough to keep you warm in case the weather changes. Recommended long-sleeve hiking shirt.

WARM JACKET

This lightweight fleece jacket is the perfect top layer for those somewhat chillier shaded sections of the trail. Plus, it has a breezy hood for when the sun does start to poke out (woo sun protection) as well as a handy front pocket to store essential items like your phone, snacks, headlamp and sunscreen. Recommended hiking jacket.

WINDBREAKER

While a nice cozy jacket will help keep you warm during those chillier days, what will really make you nice and comfortable while hiking Pyramid Peak is a nice rain jacket or windbreaker. Because this part of the country (the greater Olympic Peninsula) does get a whole lot of rain, you should always come prepared with a nice waterproof top layer. Recommended windbreaker.

HIKING PANTS

Depending on the time of year you are planning to hike Pyramid Peak, you will likely gravitate more towards wearing either full-length hiking pants or a set of lightweight active shorts. We tend to veer more towards wearing pants while hiking unless it is absolutely scorching out. These pants, also by Backcountry, are durable enough for all kinds of trail conditions (including dense overgrown trails), while also being comfortable enough to wear even when the temperature starts to pick up. Recommended hiking pants here.

SUNSCREEN

It is always super important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays — especially your shoulders, face, neck feet and hands. These sunscreens not only protect you against the sun but are also environmentally safe. A win-win.

HIKING BACKPACK

By far one of the most important items in your hiking repertoire is going to be your backpack. Because you will be carrying this bag most of the day, you will want to make sure it is comfortable. This bag by Mystery Ranch holds 32 liters of gear, while still having plenty of straps to allow it to fit perfectly to your body. Plus, its unique zipper set-up makes reaching all of your snacks nice and easy. Recommended hiking backpack.

HIKING FIRST AID KIT

This is one of those items that you don’t realize you need until it is too late. Luckily, this lightweight pack comes with (almost) everything you could need if an accident does unfortunately occur on the trail. Recommended hiking first aid kit.

TREKKING POLES

We personally have never been the type of hikers to use trekking poles but we have friends who absolutely swear by them. This set by Black Diamond can handle all kinds of terrain, are super lightweight and pack down small enough to be stored easily on the side of your backpack. Recommended trekking poles.

HIKING PYRAMID MOUNTAIN | THE ADVENTURE BREAKDOWN

TOTAL DISTANCE: 6.6 miles total (out and back)

ELEVATION PROFILE: 2,486 feet // 757 meters gained; you top out at roughly 2,900 feet

TIME NEEDED: 3–5 hours

TRAIL CONDITIONS: easy to navigate, one sketchy landslide section, some switchbacks, almost totally shaded by trees

DOGS ALLOWED: no, the trail is in Olympic National Park

START

The trailhead for Pyramid Peak (which is also sometimes known as Pyramid Mountain) is along Camp David Junior Road near the old town of Ovington (there is no town left, just a sign). Park at the trailhead and follow the signs for the start of the hike. The hike begins right along the Spruce Railroad Trail/Olympic Discovery Bike Trail. It is a clearly marked singletrack dirt trail that heads up into the forest.

1 | Once on the trail, you will begin a gradual climb that stays pretty consistent for the entire hike up. The first bit of the hike is so gradual that you really don’t notice it being uphill at all. Make sure to look around you and take in the various types of plants and animal life, including different types of mushrooms, wildflowers, birds, and banana slugs.

2 | Around the 1.8-mile point the trail does start to climb a bit more steadily. You will come to a couple of short steep sections that will make your calves start to burn a bit. Luckily, most are really short.

3 | At the 2-mile point, you will get to the famous landslide section — which though short — is pretty sketchy. Even though we have done a ton of hiking we still found this section to be a bit more precarious than we originally would have expected. Just remember to take your time, go slow and try to use the rocks on the left side of the trail as support.

Also, if you are hiking with kids (especially younger children) this is the one point on the trail that you really need to be careful. Again, take it slow and try to watch your speed so you don’t slip and slide down the side of the hill.

4 | After the landslide you will start to hike up a couple of switchbacks (around mile 2.2). This is one of the harder parts of the hike, though luckily the switchbacks don’t last for too long.

5 | Once you reach the top of the switchbacks, the trail will follow a clear ridgeline that affords you awesome views of Canada, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Washington Coast. The ridgeline is relatively flat and takes you through some big pine forests.

6 | There will be one more short switchback section before you reach the final ridgeline and eventually the top of the mountain. You will know you are close to the end when you pop out of the forest onto a wide, clear opening with views of Lake Crescent down below.

7 | From the opening of the forest, turn LEFT and walk for another minute until you reach the actual summit of Pyramid Peak. There is a one-room wooden shack and a couple of nice places to sit and take in the stunning view. At this point in the trail, you should easily be able to see Lake Crescent, the Port Angeles area, the greater Olympic National Park, Canada and if it is a really clear day, Mount Baker in the distance.

8 | Once you get your fill of the stunning views, just simply turn around and head back exactly the way you came. There are no other side trails from the top or along the way down so it should be really easy to retrace your steps back to the start.

It took us around 2.5 hours to reach the top of Pyramid Peak and then another hour or so to reach the bottom. We didn’t rush it in either direction and definitely spent a decent amount of time at the top for a grand total of 4 hours car-to-car.

➳ Explore the Alltrails hiking map for a more in-depth step-by-step guide.

Other hikes and adventures nearby: the Spruce Railroad Trail (hiking and biking), Mount Muller Trail (a 13-mile loop), and the Aurora Ridge Trail (29-mile out and back, popular for backpacking).

Pyramid Peak is an amazing alternative to the very popular and very busy Mount Storm King Trail. Plus, because Pyramid is actually a bit taller than Mount Storm King you will be rewarded with even more stunning views of the surrounding area (including the Strait and Canada). So if you are looking for an amazing off-the-beaten-path hiking adventure in Olympic National Park, then this might be the right hiking trail for you.

If you have any questions about hiking Pyramid Peak — or visiting Olympic National Park in general — then please leave us a comment below or reach out to us directly.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Backroad Packers

Backroad Packers

Two adventurers creating in-depth travel guides to inspire you to slow down and get off the beaten path more.