You are here: Home Find a Hike Hiking Guide Spruce Railroad Trail

Spruce Railroad Trail

» REI » Amazon

A portion of all book sales from the links above benefits WTA and helps protect and maintain our trails.

Hop aboard the Spruce Railroad Trail for a scenic and historic hike along the sparkling shores of massive Lake Crescent. For 4 nearly flat miles you'll saunter along one of Olympic National Park's most alluring natural features. Nine miles long, over 600 feet deep, and surrounded by steep ridges and peaks, Lake Crescent seems more like a fjord. With a microclimate of warmer and drier conditions than areas just a few miles away, this trail is a good hiking choice on an overcast afternoon.

One of few trails in Olympic National Park permitting mountain bikes, this low-country path is also one of the park's best choices for a winter hike. Gaining very little elevation, the Spruce Railroad Trail hugs the pristine shoreline of Lake Crescent, the largest lake within the Olympic Mountains, renowned for its crystal-clear waters. You can peer down over 40 feet into its depths. And when strong breezes aren't whistling down the lake valley, those same pristine waters capture stunning reflections of the surrounding ridges.

Start by hiking through an old orchard graced with big moss-draped maples. On an old roadbed you'll skirt around some cabins then drop down toward the lakeshore to the old railroad bed. You're now hiking what was once a 36-mile rail line built during World War I to haul Sitka spruce-once coveted for airplane manufacturing-to mills in nearby Port Angeles. Ironically, the Great War ended days before the line was completed. The Spruce Railroad did, however, serve commercial logging interests for thirty-five years. In 1981 the National Park Service converted 4 miles of the railbed into trail.

Although it runs close to the shoreline, the trail often remains high above it and lake views are occasionally obscured by large trees. But when the trail breaks out of the canopy of giant firs, hemlocks, and scaly-barked contorted madronas, the views across glimmering waters are breathtaking. You'll reach the trail's most scenic section, Devil Point and Punchbowl after only 1 mile of hiking. Cross the Punchbowl on a bridge, from which you can admire the lake's impressive depth and the lofty emerald peaks and ridges surrounding it.

Beyond the Punchbowl the trail resumes its course above the lake. At 2.5 miles you'll come to some good viewpoints along the lake's narrowest section at the arch of its crescent. Directly across from you, Barnes Point-formed by river outwash-juts into the lake. Craggy Mount Storm King hovers above it.

At 3 miles you'll round a bluff. The railroad passed through a tunnel here and it is still discernable (but advisable to stay out of). Another tunnel was bypassed back at Devil Point (look for it on your return). At 4 miles you'll reach the western trailhead. Fuel up for the chug back to your vehicle.
Driving Directions:

From Port Angeles follow US 101 west for 17 miles to the Olympic National Park boundary. Turn right onto East Beach Road (signed "Log Cabin Resort, East Beach"). Follow this narrow paved road for 3.2 miles. Just beyond the Log Cabin Resort, turn left onto Boundary Creek Road (signed "Spruce Railroad Trail"). Follow it for 0.8 mile to the eastern trailhead. Privy available.

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

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

Recent Trip Reports

Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 26 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Spruce Railroad Trail — Mar 31, 2014 — Bec
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes
Expand report text Hide report text
I hiked this during spring break. The first mile was rather muddy trail and peekaboo views of the la...
I hiked this during spring break. The first mile was rather muddy trail and peekaboo views of the lake. Then the trail went right along the lake for the next 2 miles with fabulous lake and mountain views,and crossed one of the prettiest bridges I've ever seen. The rest of the trail seemed to be in good shape with one or two blow downs which were easily crossed. I turned around after about 4 miles when I hit pavement, for a round trip of over 8 miles, with very little elevation gain.

I encountered several joggers, bikers and other hikers, but mostly had the trail to myself.

For a longer report and pictures, please see my blog at www.happyhousehiker.blogspot.com
Read full report
Spruce Railroad Trail — Mar 06, 2014 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns
Expand report text Hide report text
After hiking to Marymere Falls, we hiked 2 miles of the Spruce Railroad Trail starting at the Wester...
After hiking to Marymere Falls, we hiked 2 miles of the Spruce Railroad Trail starting at the Western TH. We saw no other hikers. There were a few trees across the trail near the beginning, but they were easily crossed by hikers. Horses would have a problem at the first tree which had a few branches to negotiate. The day was cloudy with intermittent light rain. This is an easy hike along Lake Crescent passing by beautiful basalt cliffs with madrone trees growing from the rocks.

Read full report with photos
Spruce Railroad Trail — Nov 24, 2013 — back to the source
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
Just got back from a beautiful hike at Lake Crescent. The Spruce Railway Trail skirts the shore of L...
Just got back from a beautiful hike at Lake Crescent. The Spruce Railway Trail skirts the shore of Lake Crescent. We happened upon it on a rare sunny day in November. There was no wind and the lake was calm. The sun shone down into its clear waters revealing the steep drop into the depths of the lake. We were able to watch little fish swim along in their private underwater world. Dream along with them...Very few other hikers were there and the whole lake seemed our private world. Brilliant sunshine reflected off its aquamarine surface. A great late autumn hike.
Read full report with photos
Spruce Railroad Trail — Oct 12, 2013 — duckie
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes
Expand report text Hide report text
wonderful trail conditions, wonderful fall colors, wonderful everything. this super easy walk is the...
wonderful trail conditions, wonderful fall colors, wonderful everything. this super easy walk is the ticket on a fall day! it is 5 miles from east trailhead to west trailhead
Read full report with photos
Spruce Railroad Trail — Sep 12, 2013 — 5ifty mm
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Expand report text Hide report text
A beautiful September afternoon. The trail was in great shape. We passed maybe 6 other hikers on th...
A beautiful September afternoon. The trail was in great shape. We passed maybe 6 other hikers on the trail three of which had dogs with them. This trail is one of the very few in the Olympic Natl Park that allow dogs and bikes. It was sunny, (about 75) but there was plenty of cover from the trees and a mild breeze that was perfect.

A small group of swimmers were hanging out in Devil's point having a good time. The trail is mostly flat with the occasional uphill downhill sections that are very short. The water was clear as always. Some of the trees were just starting to change color.
Read full report
Lake Crescent Spruce Railroad Bob & Barb.jpg
Lake Crescent view along the Spruce Railroad Trail. Photo by Bob & Barb.
Location
Spruce Railroad (#44)
Olympics -- North
Olympic National Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 250 ft
Highest Point 700 ft
Features
Lakes
Mountain views
User info
Good for kids
May encounter mountains bikes
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades (Burton - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Lake Crescent No. 101
Custom Correct Lake Crescent-Happy Lake Ridge

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

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

Map it
Red MarkerSpruce Railroad Trail
48.0932833333 -123.802516667
(48.0933, -123.8025) Open in new window
Document Actions
  • Print this
  • Share
Get the Guidebooks

Mountaineers three booksSelect content from The Mountaineers Books' guidebooks is featured in this Hiking Guide. Sales of the books from this website help protect and maintain trails.

> Shop Now

More hikes » Hike of the Week
Lewis River Trail (Apr 10)

Lewis River Trail

South Cascades

We're at the cusp of waterfall season! With five waterfalls in a 7-mile roundtrip, this Lewis River hike is one to keep on your April-June to-do list. If you're hiking with creaky knees or kiddos, take in the magnificent, close-in Lower Lewis River Falls. If you want a longer hike with some ups and downs, venture all the way to Taidnapum Falls, 3.5 miles in.

Get Trail News

Subscribe to our free email newsletter for hiking news, events, gear reviews and more.

What's Happening
Trails and Ales - Spokane 2014 Apr 22, 2014 Meet fellow hikers and raise a glass for trails!
Hiker Potluck in Vancouver May 28, 2014 Come out for an evening of great food, meet other hikers and learn what is happening on trails near you.
More »