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Climbing the Storm King trail above Lake Crescent is not for the faint of heart–or at very least not for the weak of legs.  Those hiking this trail will want to park at the Storm King ranger station near Lake Crescent Lodge and take the Marymeer Falls trail under Highway 101.  After somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 a mile, just after a gigantic douglas fir, the Storm King trail splits off to the left under a large boulder.  There is a sign marking the trail.  From this point on you can expect a grueling climb.  In the remaining mile of your hike you will gain about 2,000 feet of elevation.

Steep is just the beginning of the adjectives you may want to use for this trail, which climbs up the back side of a ridge bordering the lake, so no water views for you until you get to the top.

Arora Ridge is visible for much of the ascent

A third of the way up, the trail gets less steep–almost flat, even–as it passes across a small shelf through open forest that would make a good campsite, then the climb continues without a break up to a knife-edge ridge spine where you can finally look out over the lake and wonder how you got so high in so little trail.

the forested shelf

the end of this hiker's line

This is where I stopped my hike on February 2nd, though I am told the trail continues for another .4 miles or so until it abruptly stops on the side of the mountain without really reaching a destination.  If you came to climb to the top of a mountain on this trail, I’m afraid you will be disappointed.  The view from the spine is a good one, if frustratingly cut off to the west by the forest you climbed there through, and a little dangerous as you have to stand or sit on the edge of a 400 foot cliff to enjoy it.

a lunch-worthy view

a view-worthy lunch: rice with smoked herring, apple with peanutbutter and nutella, homemade granola bars

maybe it's better not to look down

Some hikers might complain that the reward to effort ratio is too low to make this a worthwhile hike, yet I found it a pleasant one and would make the climb again.  Going on a sunny winter day, as I did, I found exactly what I was looking for: fresh air, open forest, lovely views, an achievable challenge, and solitude (I was the only person on the trail that day).  I would recommend this trail for cool-season hiking.  So much exertion on a south-facing ridge on a hot summer day would overheat me to great discomfort, and I am told the trail can be quite popular during vacation time.

Who needs benches?

a cheeky hiking companion

Made it to the top--I'm not quite used to such bright sun in February!

back at the lake, I pause to look at how high I was

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