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Mount Ellinor

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An Olympic classic-bag this peak for one of the most supreme views this side of Hood Canal. From the jagged summit peer deep into the heart of the Olympic wilderness or out across Lake Cushman and Puget Sound to the Cascades spanning the eastern horizon. All of this comes at a price, however-the trail to Ellinor is steep and tough.

Yes, there is an upper trailhead that shortens this hike by 3 miles and knocks 900 feet of elevation off. But why start there? The whole idea is to go hiking, not get to the mountain the shortest way possible. By beginning on the lower trailhead you get a chance to warm up for a very steep ascent, and you get to enjoy one of the finest old-growth groves this side of Copper Creek. Plus you get 1.5 miles of quiet hiking, avoiding the crowds flocking to the upper trailhead.

Begin by immediately entering a cool forest of old-growth hemlock and Douglas-fir. As the trail skirts the edges of old clear-cuts, teaser views promise what lies ahead. In about 0.5 mile the trail from Big Creek comes in from the left (the long, long way up Ellinor). Ascending steadily, the trail winds 1 mile up a heavily forested ridge to meet the upper trail at 3900 feet. The trail right descends 400 feet to meet the upper trailhead in 0.3 mile.

Now, hopefully warmed up and limber, prepare for some serious work. The incline gets steeper while the terrain gets rougher. At 2.5 miles (4600 feet) trees yield to meadows and views begin. But to quote the late not-so-great 1970s rock band, BTO, "B-b-baby, you ain't seen nothing yet!"

The winter climbing route veers right. Continue left, ascending open meadows and rocky gardens. Years ago, going beyond this point was a tricky scramble. But thanks to the hard work of the Mount Rose Volunteer Trail Crew a trail was carved into the steep mountain face, making the ascent much safer and more manageable.

Continue huffing and puffing, traversing a very steep slope. Now just a short distance from your objective, clamber north up a rocky ridge until finally, at 3.1 miles from and nearly two-thirds of a mile above the lower trailhead, reach Ellinor's magnificent summit. Wipe your brow, gulp some water, and prepare to be wowed. One mile directly below is Lake Cushman, rippling waters shining right back at you. Lots of saltwater twinkles below too, with Puget Sound and Hood Canal clearly visible. The Cascades fill the eastern horizon, with Rainier dominating the show. Percolating St. Helens is visible to the south.

Turn your attention north and westward to a diorama of jagged Olympic peaks. Washington, Pershing, and Stone, like a lineup of generals, flank Ellinor to the north. Lincoln, Cruiser, Gladys, and Copper guard her to the west. Gaze down into the vertigo-inducing Jefferson Creek valley and spot an inviting but isolated pond. You can sit on this summit for hours learning much about western Washington's geography.
Driving Directions:

From Shelton travel north on US 101 for 15 miles to Hoodsport. Turn left (west) onto State Route 119 and proceed 9.3 miles to a T intersection with Forest Road 24. Turn right onto graveled FR 24, proceed 1.6 miles, and turn left onto FR 2419. After 4.8 miles come to the lower trailhead. The upper trailhead can be reached by continuing on FR 2419 for 1.6 miles to a junction. Turn left on FR 2419-014 and follow it 1 mile to the upper trailhead.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 227 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Mount Ellinor — Apr 13, 2014 — OlyHiker
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Drove to about a quarter of a mile from the upper trail head, snow prevents further passage for norm...
Drove to about a quarter of a mile from the upper trail head, snow prevents further passage for normal vehicles. New outhouse in parking lot. No snow on lower part of trail, stretches of snow begin at abou 0.6 miles (after junction with lower trail head. Was icy at the time we were there (7:45 am). Conditions vary significantly depending on time of day. We went up the chute with few problems, but was quite icy in the shaded sections, requiring careful axe and foot placements.

Coming down via glissade, the first two short glissades went smoothly. However, coming down the very first section of the the main chute was pretty much completely out-of-control, and required a self-arrest. There was no way to brake adequately to control one's speed. The chute was just too icy, even though there was a soft layer on the very surface.

All four of ice came to a halt uninjured, but bruised and bumped quite a bit. We would have walked down had we known. This was around noon. Suggest using a signal if multiple in the party, to let others know if it is safe or not.

Rest of chute was managable if you have an ice-axe.
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Mount Ellinor — Apr 12, 2014 — sasquatch
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Finally Mt Ellinor in the Olympics! I have been wanting to do this climb for some time. I can see wh...
Finally Mt Ellinor in the Olympics! I have been wanting to do this climb for some time. I can see why it's so popular. Fairly easy to get to (compared to other Olympic peaks). There is even an upper trailhead that cuts out most of the hike. We started from the "Lower Trailhead" which is around 2,600'. No snow at (or well above) this trailhead. Two miles of nice hiking in forest on well maintained trail. After two miles you intersect with the trail from the upper trailhead. Now with only 1-1.5 miles to go the trail gets steep. About 1/4 mile after the intersection there was enough snow for micro-spikes, we put on gaiters too. Around 2.5 miles we come to what they call the meadow and entrance to the winter route "chute". The chute is fairly steep, and around 1/4 mile long, so takes some effort. I would not want to do it without spikes and poles. After sweating and grunting up the chute you come to a nice bowl and you can see a false summit. Once up the false summit you will come to another small basin and see the true summit. We left the trailhead at 10am and reached the summit (5,930') at 12:30. We were going at good pace with the right gear, so passed most others. There were several people about, maybe due to the upper trailhead parking lot now being accessible. But that appears to encourage some people to come without the correct gear for this hike. We had lunch on the summit. Several people arrived as we departed the summit around 1:30. There are several glissading opportunities which makes the decent quite fast. However, back in the chute it is steep, and the glissading there was almost too fast. I could barley control my speed with my ice axe. About two hours back to the car. The snow is firm and packed down anywhere near the main route. We estimated the avalanche danger to be very low.

A great climb, and I am sure I will come back to this spot.

Tips: I highly recommend micro-spikes, gaiters, and poles. Ice axe came in handy for the down climb (upper chute) and the glissades. We took snowshoes but did not use.

http://www.everytrail.com/v[…]4ad9321e0fa904f98609af61468

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Mount Ellinor — Apr 04, 2014 — LaugheryA
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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We were the only ones out! We parked at the junction at the bottom of the forest road to the upper t...
We were the only ones out! We parked at the junction at the bottom of the forest road to the upper trailhead because there was too much snow. We added the 2.2 miles roundtrip onto our hike going up the logging road (decided to do that instead of go back down to the lower). The upper trailhead book indicates no one has been up since early March. The trail through old growth had snow but was in great condition. When we hit the 'meadow' the snow got deep and we forged our way up the avalanche chute (falling up to our thighs in places). Snow and poor visibility cut our climb short of the summit, but we still had an excellent day! It was beautiful. A full blog post (with more photos) can be found here:
http://www.handandtheheart.com/[…]/getaway-mount-ellinor.html
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Mount Ellinor — Mar 23, 2014 — curtainclimber
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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The road to the lower trailhead is clear. There was some snow just passed it so we didn't see if it...
The road to the lower trailhead is clear. There was some snow just passed it so we didn't see if it's possible to go to the upper.

No snow shoes needed right now. We only made it up to 4670' (just a bit up the chute.) We turned around as one of our party forgot his ice-axe (required right now) and none of us expected to need crampons (which none of us brought.)

Also, the trail before you get into the deep packed snow is super icy right now. Microspikes would have been nice to speed things up a bit.

Beautiful day though!
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Mount Ellinor — Feb 15, 2014 — nathansward
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail | Avalanche danger
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After reading recent trip reports, I figured this would be a challenging but attainable winter hike....
After reading recent trip reports, I figured this would be a challenging but attainable winter hike. Calls to the ranger office were helpful. They mentioned that there had been significant snowfall recently, and warned me to check avalanche forecasts.

We left the lower trailhead around 9am. The upper trailhead was inaccessible accept to serious four wheel drive vehicles. The hike was beautiful and easy for the first couple miles. We started encountering some snow and ice, which our yaktrax were able to handle well. After turning to follow the winter route, however, snow began to get deep. We were the first ones on this section of the trail for the last few days. The trail was covered in snow, but still marked by vague foot depressions, so route finding was not a problem. I wished we had snow shoes, since at times we would sink to our thighs.

As the trail approached the snow chute, tracks disappeared entirely. Given that the avalanche forecast was moderate, we decided to attempt the chute. Climbing was strenuous, and I alternated between kicking steps and sinking to my knees in snow. We made it most of the way up the chute before we descended. Reasons for turning back include freezing hands (I was expecting it to be this cold), limited visibility (snowfall had started and was increasing), and avalanche fear.

This was my first climbing hike in the Olympics. It was a great experience... and a learning experience. Still, it was beautiful and challenging hike.
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HoodCanal&Rainier.JPG
Hood Canal and Rainier. Courtesy of Christopher Cote.
Location
Mount Ellinor (#812)
Olympics -- East
Hood Canal Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain 3200 ft
Highest Point 5944 ft
Features
Old growth
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Wildlife
Ridges/passes
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Hiking Guide to Washington Geology (Carson & Babcock - Keokee) p.45-50
Green Trails Mt Steel No. 167 and The Brothers No. 168
Custom Correct Mount Skokomish-Lake Cushman

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerMount Ellinor
47.5066 -123.232083333
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