Olympic Hot Springs, Boulder Lake & Appleton Pass

A wonderfully simple moderate day hike to a subalpine lake on a trail that passes Boulder Creek Campground and Olympic Hot Springs, the only natural, backcountry bathing hot springs in the Olympics. The trail forks at 3.2 miles where you can head to Boulder Lake or Appleton Pass and Oyster Lake. Boulder and Everett Peaks are two good scrambles from Boulder Lake.

Getting there

Drive US-101 to 8.5 miles west of Port Angeles, Milepost 240 and just before the Elwha River Bridge, turn left (south) onto Olympic Hot Springs Road. Drive 10 miles  to the road's end and the trailhead (1,800 ft).

NOTE: Because of a washout, the Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed. Park at Madison Falls and bike or hike 8 miles one-way to reach the trailhead at the road's end.

on the trail

Olympic Hot Springs (2,061 ft)

5 miles round trip with 400 feet of elevation gain

Olympic Hot Springs is at the site of a former resort and has mutiple hot spring pools of various temperatures. Nearby Boulder Creek Campground served car campers before the road was closed to cars by a washout. Now it a great camp for backpackers. This easy hike to Boulder Creek Campground wanders up and down until it reaches the Boulder Creek Campground. The  left fork at the trail takes you to Olympics Hot Springs.

Boulder Lake (4,350 ft)

12 miles round trip with 2,600 feet of elevation gain

From Boulder Creek Campground, the right fork cuts through the huge conifer forest sprinkled with tent sites and then slowly climbs for a mile until coming to the Boulder Lake-Appleton Pass fork (2,320 ft). Take the right fork that sidehills up a moderate grade for 3 miles until it comes to the Boulder Lake-Happy Lakes Ridge fork. Boulder Lake sits underneath the heavy brow of Boulder Peak, a great lunch spot.

Appleton Pass (5,120 ft)

15 miles round trip with 3,400 feet of elevation gain

From Boulder Creek Campground, the right fork cuts through the huge conifer forest sprinkled with tent sites and then slowly climbs for a mile until coming to the Boulder Lake-Appleton Pass fork (2,320 ft). Take the left fork 4.6 miles and 2,800 feet of elevation gain to Appleton Pass and Oyster Lake.  There's a backcountry campsite at Appleton Pass.

Boulder Peak (5,600 ft)

15.0 miles round trip with 3,800 feet of elevation gain

There are two options to get to Boulder Peak from Boulder Lake.  From the east side of the lake, past the bear wire and toilet, follow an old trail ~0.1 mile, and then head west directly to the north ridge of Boulder Peak. Follow ridge to the summit—some game trails exist on the east side of this ridge. Alternatively, from the lake walk a little bit further to the obvious avalanche gully and follow that up as high as possible. Near the top, head left and traverse over to the north ridge and on to the summit.

notes

  • Many guidebooks refer to this hike starting on pavement. The park has removed the pavement on the trail.
  • The Lake Mills Dam has also been removed, an incredible site in and of itself.
  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Day Hiking, Scrambling
  • Seasons: June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: *Varies*, Easy, Moderate, Strenuous, Strenuous 4, Technical 4
  • Length: 15.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,400 ft
  • 5,050 ft
  • Land Manager: Olympic National Park
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
Map
  • Green Trails Seven Lakes Basin/Mt Olympus Climb No. 133S
  • Custom Correct Seven Lakes Basin - Hoh
  • Custom Correct Lake Crescent - Happy Lake Ridge
  • USGS Bogachiel Peak
  • USGS Mount Carrie
Activities

Upcoming Activities

There are no activities scheduled at this location.

Trip Reports
Titles

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Olympic Hot Springs
  • Boulder Lake
  • Appleton Pass
  • Boulder Peak
Resources

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