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Olympic Hot Springs

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There are 22 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Olympic Hot Springs, Appleton Pass, High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop, Aurora Ridge — Jul 17, 2013 — Sir-Hikes-A-Lot
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Snow on trail | Bugs
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I realized I had been neglecting ONP and came up with the following route to remedy the situation: ...
I realized I had been neglecting ONP and came up with the following route to remedy the situation:

Hiking from the Aurora Ridge TH to Olympic Hot Springs (via Aurora Ridge and the Boulder Lake Trails), then up over Appleton Pass to the Sol Duc River, and then hiking the High Divide to the Sol Duc TH. This route is ~ 49 miles.

From the Aurora Ridge TH to the Eagle Lakes trail junction the trail is in great shape with a couple of downed trees. There are some slight brush issues early on but it’s not too bad. Heading down to Eagle Lakes the trail is in good shape with a few more downed trees.

From the Eagle Lakes trail junction to the Aurora Cr trail junction there are 15 downed trees. There are some overgrown sections and some rough trail.

From the Aurora Cr trail junction to the Barnes Cr trail junction there are 15 downed trees. The first .25 miles after Aurora Spring there is no trail and route finding will be required. This stretch has a lot of rough trail that is very steep in places and severely eroded, with occasional brush issues. A few snow patches remain higher up, but are easily dealt with.

The Aurora Ridge and Aurora Divide Trails are already very dry. From the TH all the way to Boulder Lake the only on trail water sources are a couple of seasonal creeks early on, Eagle Lakes, a spring .25 miles before the Aurora Cr trail junction, and Aurora Spring. There is the occasional muddy pond and you could still melt snow higher up, but these two options will be gone soon.

From the Barnes Cr trail junction to the Boulder Cr Camps trail junction there are ~ 55 downed trees. Several will have to be climbed over or crawled under. Aside from the tree issues, the trail is in good shape. The trail down to the Boulder Cr Camps has 5-10 downed trees, with an additional 5 or so to the hot spring pools.

From the Boulder Cr trail junction to Appleton Pass there are ~ 15 downed trees. When you break out of the forest and enter the lower meadow it’s very brushy. Only a couple of snow patches remain on the switchbacks and they should be a non-issue. There is the potential for one ford if you can’t make the rocks and logs work in your favor. Still some snow at the pass, but most camps are melted out.

From Appleton Pass to the Sol Duc River trail junction the trail is in good shape with only a couple downed trees.

From the Sol Duc River junction through the Seven Lakes Basin Loop, the only issue is snow as the trail has been cleared and is in good shape. The trail is snow free to Heart Lake. From just above Heart Lake to Bogachiel Peak the trail is about 50% snow covered. There is the occasional steep traverse but overall it’s not too bad and most should be fine. There are no navigation issues.

Please be mindful of the goats as they continue to be aggressive and will follow you for as long as you allow them to. It was distressing to see so many ignorant people approaching to within 10 feet of these potentially lethal animals…but hey, it’s all about the photo op, right?

I want to give a special thanks to Monty and Ed who were kind enough to give me a ride back to my car. Thanks again gentlemen, I enjoyed the conversation!

If interested, I’ve created a YouTube video of this hike and it can be seen at:

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Appleton Pass, Seven Lakes Basin, Olympic Hot Springs — Aug 25, 2012 — Bassbone1975
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Washouts
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I originally planned this solo hike as an opportunity to get more in touch with myself and to explor...
I originally planned this solo hike as an opportunity to get more in touch with myself and to explore my limits as a hiker. I certainly got both! Combining these 2 hikes was ambitious, but very much worth it.

I started from the Sol Duc Falls trail head and instead of doing the Seven Lakes Basin Hike in a clockwise fashion, I followed my guidebook's suggestion (thank you Mr. Craig Ramano) and began by going counter clockwise. Let me stress the importance of getting an early start on any day that you look at doing 10 or more miles a day on, you'll really have to hump it if you get started as late as I did!

After Sol Duc falls it was a steady climb until Deer Lake. I took a lot of pictures on this trip. The forest scenery was awesome, I just wish I had had more time with which to enjoy it. Deer Lake was a nice respite from the steady uphill, but I was only half way to my endpoint for the day, the Lunch Lake camp site. The scenery continued to improve as I ascended to the High Divide (at least I think this portion of the trail is part of the High Divide), meadows, wildflowers, small lakes, mountain views, it just kept geting better and better. And the mountain blueberries were ripe for the picking! Very tasty!

A word to the uncoordinated or those with nature induced ADD, the High Divide is narrow and the views so spectacular, that you need to pay close attention to where you place your feet or else you could find yourself stepping off the path and falling down and incredibly steep slope!

Another word of warning, mountain goats. They like the path too, they have young and aren't too terribly impressed by humans. I had to back track a half mile to a place I could scramble up a fallen tree and then wait for them to pass under me.

I finally reached Lunch Lake and set up camp. It was beautiful. I even saw a bear in the distance over by nearby Round Lake. There are fish in some of these lakes, so if you are a fisher person, bring your pole and tackle!

The 2nd day of my hike took me further along the trail, past Heart Lake, Sol Duc Park to Appleton Pass Junction and on up to the Appleton Pass camp site. All I can say, is Mt. Olympus is amazing. The mountain views were absolutely astounding, there were clouds in valleys below and wildflowers all over the place. Heart Lake is beautiful. Don't pass up the opportunity to check out the view from Bogachiel Peak, its only a short detour, and very much worth it! The southern half or Appleton pass on the other hand, was brutally steep, limited views and seemingly non-ending switchbacks. I was not prepared for it physically and almost ended my trip 2/3 up.

Glad I didn't though. The campsite was really cool. It was my base camp for the next days hike down to the Olympic Hot Springs. The northern part of Appleton pass was overgrown and in one meadow, the path was pretty much invisible.

A quick note about gaiters, liner socks and trekking poles. I used to laugh at people who use them. This hike totally changed my tune. I'm not going on any back country hikes without them. Ever.

It rained the night before I went to the hot springs and the plant life was drenched. 30 minutes into the hike, so was I from the waste down. Had to wring out my socks repeatedly. I can't stress the importance of dry feet enough. Other than being wet and overgrown, the trail had a lot of exceptionally scenic areas. There were a couple of downed trees across the trail, but nothing you couldn't easily maneuver around.

The Boulder Creek camp site and the hot springs were completely devoid of other people. I think I may very well have been the only person present in a 5 or so mile radius. Very, very peaceful. I even had time for a quick dip (30 min) in the hot springs. Trip wouldn't have been complete without it! The return trip to camp was awesome as well, and I was able to take my time and enjoy the views now that I had achieved my goals of soaking in the hot springs :)

I returned to camp to find that I was the only person still there for the night and was able to get some killer pictures of the sunset, the moon and a very curious deer. A note about the water source. Oyster Lake is really small and is located quite a ways back from the trail. Its also not very well marked. Just go towards the bear wires (recently added) and keep going back along the trail.

My final day took me back down Appleton pass and through the last 5 miles of the 7 Lakes Basin Loop. After all the mountain views, and wildflowers, I'll admit that I was somewhat disappointed with the views, however, if I had started out in a clockwise fashion, I would have found it prettier than the forest on my first days hike. I was just really beat by that time. 39 miles in four days was a little rough. But oh so worth it! I highly recommend this to anyone with moderate hiking experience and who is looking for a challenge.
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Happy Lake Ridge, Boulder Lake (Olympics), Olympic Hot Springs, Aurora Divide — Jul 30, 2011 — PNA
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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I decided to go check out the Happy Lake Ridge before the easy access is shut down tomorrow. The ...
  I decided to go check out the Happy Lake Ridge before the easy access is shut down tomorrow. The trip report may be kind of pointless, since I doubt it will see much use for the next 3 years. But trip reports are few and far between for it, so here it is:

 The park service's recent trail report I found quite misleading, as there is not nearly as much snow as I expected from that. I took snowhoes, but they were pointless, as the snow was only intermittent, and much of it was steep sidehill where snowshoes are no help. Heavy boots and ski poles were a good combination for me.

  Started on a beautiful clear Saturday, hiking up the east end of Happy Lake Ridge from the Olympic Hot Springs Rd. 2 cars at the trailhead, 2 day hikers on the trail heading down as I approached the Happy Lake side trail.

  The trail is in good shape all the way up, with an impressive undergrowth of salal at the bottom, and vanilla leaf and roses closer to the top. There are two springs near the trail 3/4 of the way up - one is above the trail and has very nice icy cold, clear water pouring from a bark spout at the trail. The other is just below the trail. Lots of saprophytes blooming on the way up - pinesap, pinedrops, candystick, 2 kinds of coral roots, as well as salal, twinflower, pipsissewa, a few other kinds of orchids, Clintonia, a few starflowers, Campanula scouleri, purple and yellow violets, and probably a number I've forgotten.

  The trail gets a bit brushy near the ridge crest (mostly Rhododendron albiflorum, I think, and blueberries), and there are some snowdrifts starting around 4600'. And the lilies. The entire 7 miles of ridge crest has almost omnipresent thick beds of Erythronium montanum, and towards the west end (Crystal Ridge vicinity) E. grandiflorum. By far the biggest, most impressive display of these lilies I've ever seen. They are just everywhere, and at peak bloom right now. Many tens of thousands along there. And some extensive areas of spring beauties blooming, as well.

  At about 4800', maybe a half mile (maybe more...) before the lake turnoff, solid snow begins. The trail route is pretty easy to predict, though, and the going is easy. The basin above the lake is pretty well drifted in with snow. Another quarter mile or so past the junction the solid snow continues, with some steep slopes to sidehill. Then there are only the occasional drifts from there to the Aurora Ridge trail junction. Although some of those drifts are steeply sloping across the trail, and a steep (if short) climb up and down. Nice views now and then both to north and south - Hurricane Hill, Mt. Carrie, Cat Peak, Mt. Olympus, Ediz Hook, etc. Just a few blowdowns in this section, nothing difficult.

  I hiked out the Aurora Divide Trail nearly to the junction with the Barnes Creek trail, and it was more of the same. Lilies blooming, a few blowdowns, some snowdrifts. There is also some weird geology with some sinkhole-like features (collapsed headwall?), and a nice gravelly patch with lots of paintbrush, Lomatium, onions, lupines etc. No sign of humans here, and lots of flowers coming up through the trail, or encroaching from the sides (lilies, valerian, etc). The trail is a bit slopey and slumpy, but easy enough to follow.

  There is some more steep, NW-facing snow slope just west (aka south) of the Happy Lake Ridge/Aurora Divide Trail junction - this was perhaps the worst of the snow I saw, but even that was no big deal if you're used to walking on snow. The trail continues on ambling along the ridge, with more flowers, more snowdrifts, a few more blowdowns, more views. The Crystal Ridge area had some nice gravelly flower gardens on the south-facing slopes. And Crystal Ridge itself looks like a nice, open flowery area early in the year (like now), although I didn't go out there.

  The last mile along the ridge (W of Crystal Ridge) surprised me with perhaps the most extensive snow. Lots of snowy glades, and not always obvious where the trail was, except for the tracks of day trippers up from Boulder Lake. Nothing too tricky, just unexpected.

  The entire descent to Boulder Lake is completely snow free, although the area immediately around the lake has extensive snow. At least a few campsites at Boulder Lake are dry - I didn't spend much time there. Lots of people there, as well - the first people since the 2 day hikers on the previous day.

  There is almost no snow below Boulder Lake, just a long, rooty, rocky descent. And the biggest and most numerous blowdowns of the hike. Perhaps 8 good sized ones from the lake down to the hot springs campground. A couple of them required leaving the trail to get around (I think only one of those up on the ridge did).

  There was no one at the campground, and surprisingly few at the hot springs for the last day they were accessible. I even had the best pool to myself for a while. There were 30 cars at the trailhead, though.

  By the way, can anyone explain why the park service ripped up all the asphalt on the old road, but left ridges of gravel on either side, with absolutely no drainage? I fear the trail/road may erode pretty badly, as there is no place for the water to go but down the trail for most of it. It certainly has a lot of water flowing and puddling on it in the winter.

  I didn't see much wildlife, nor even tracks in the snow. A couple of grouse, some juncos and robins and thrushes and such, some deer tracks by Boulder Lake... that was it.

 Overall, this was a great hike - some quiet and isolation (no one has hiked the Aurora Ridge bit in the last month or more, and not many the Happy Lake Ridge) and lots of flowers, and some views. If there is a few weeks of summer this summer, it will be quite a pleasant stroll after the snow melts down some more.

  Oh, yeah, found some ripe wild strawberries on the roadside while walking from the end of the road back to the Happy Lake Ridge trailhead. Yum.
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Lake Mills, Upper Lake Mills, West Lake Mills, Boulder Lake, Appleton Pass, Olympic Hot Springs — Sep 08, 2010 — Washington Trails Association
Day hike
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The Olympic Hot Springs Road and these trails are closed through October 2010 for construction on th...
The Olympic Hot Springs Road and these trails are closed through October 2010 for construction on the Lake Mills Delta and the Boulder Creek Trail Rehabilitation Project. Visit Olympic National Park's website at:[…]/wilderness-trail-conditions.htm#CP_JUMP_150133 for the latest updates before heading this way.
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Olympic Hot Springs, Boulder Lake, Happy Lake Ridge, Boulder Peak — Aug 10, 2010 — Eric Jain
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Bugs
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Arrived at the end of Olympic Hot Springs Rd (Appleton Pass trailhead) at 8pm. Was surprised to find...
Arrived at the end of Olympic Hot Springs Rd (Appleton Pass trailhead) at 8pm. Was surprised to find more than a dozen cars there this late on a Tuesday, but there was still plenty of space to park.

The short hike to the Boulder Creek campground followed an old road. There were several washouts, all of which could either be hopped over or had some kind of bridge. The campground isn't located down by the river, but in a beautiful bit of forest above the river. Even though there appeared to be quite a few people camping there, the campground was large enough to not feel crowded. There was a small stream a bit further along the trail, which seemed like a good option for getting water.

Checked out the hot springs the following morning (down and across the river from the campground). Resisted the urge to jump into any of the sulfur-scented, shallow pools along the trail, even though we had the place to ourselves.

The trail up to Boulder Lake was in good condition, with few blowdowns. Passed a sign with a helpful map of the campground upon arriving at the lake. Being the first party to arrive at Boulder Lake, we chose one of the two campsites on the small peninsula. Two or three other parties arrived later.

Tried to follow the east ridge up to Boulder Peak that afternoon. Started out on a well-defined trail towards Three Horse Lake. There appeared to be an intermittent climber's trail that was following the ridge (mainly on the north side). But we gave up upon reaching a steep and slippery section. Descended via a gully, which turned out to be another (more direct) climber's trail. No issues with that approach, other than a trickle of water in the middle section of the gully. Back at camp, the mosquitoes were eagerly awaiting our return.

Tried again the following day, this time from the north ridge. The trail sign that marks the Happy Lake Ridge trail appeared to be missing, but the junction was obvious (to someone with a map). Followed that trail up to the last switchback, and bushwacked along the ridge from there (on the way back we found a faint climber's trail that joins the main trail a bit further up). Encountered just one short section that was problematic (traversing loose gravel on a steep slope with some exposure).

Continued along the Happy Lake Ridge and down to Happy Lake. Other than a few blowdowns, no issues with this trail. Surprised to find only three proper (though large) campsites around Happy Lake, but no other parties joined us. The lake was pretty enough, but the water didn't look inviting, and instead of fish there were a lot of frogs, as became evident the moment the sun set.

Climbed up to the ridge east of the lake the following morning, and attempted to follow it, but gave up soon as not all members of our party felt comfortable scrambling on sharp, crumbling rock.

Packed up camp and headed back up to the Happy Lake Ridge trail, which we followed down some long switchbacks to the (small) Happy Lake Ridge trailhead. One of the members of our party had left her car there, thus saving us a 1+ mile road walk.

Wildlife: We had been looking out for marmots, but didn't see (or even find signs of) a single one. Some squirrels up close, and a bear from far away.

Wildflowers: Pink Heather and White Rhododendron were most ubiquitous, but many others were blooming as well. But only few early flowers such as Avalanche Lilies were left.
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Olympics -- North
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

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