Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Barnes Creek to Aurora Peak Traverse

Breathtaking vistas plus lots of ‘find the fossil trail’ practice on this challenging one way traverse (~17 miles, ~5500’ gain). A great place to escape crowds and civilization.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Perfect conditions, the next week or two would be an ideal time to do this trip.  Snow remnants are still impeding the arrival of bugs…


    … yet were easily negotiated using approach shoes and poles. Gentle cool breezes kept us comfy on our traverse to Aurora Peak along Happy Lake Ridge.

This traverse started at the Storm King Ranger Station (near Barnes Creek) and finished with a descent of the Aurora Creek Trail.  After half an hour to stage several cars for the shuttle (just 2.6 miles west on Highway 101) we were soon on our way at 8:30am (most of us drove over the night before).

We made good time making our way up Barnes Creek (thanks to overcast skies and cooler temperatures) and by 11:30am had our first substantial break near a campsite/waterfall at ~4250’ (a great spot for folks preferring a two day trip):


After breaking out into our first substantial meadow we enjoyed views to the south…


… followed by a look ahead (to the west) of the meadow just below Aurora Peak (photo’s upper right corner) :


A large part of our traverse was on fossil trail (trail rapidly reverting to a native state), with some parts more discernible than others:


By 3pm we were ready for the final 400’ gain to the SW summit of Aurora Peak (elevation 4708’):


After a leisurely break (shaded!) on the summit of Aurora Peak we paused for photos…



… and were soon headed down (~4pm):


A short time later (~5:40pm, thanks to one of the steepest trails in the Olympics) we arrived at the aquamarine waters (replete with white caps) of the beautiful Lake Crescent:


A great day in the mountains with absolutely perfect conditions.  Our total time was just over 9 hours on this ~17 mile, ~5500’ elevation gain outing. Photos from this as well as other trips to this venue can be seen here.