Tucked high in the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula, in the appropriately named Valley of Heaven is a breathtaking lake -- the Lake of the Angels. The heavenly goal is accessed by a trail built for more mortal interests. Keep in mind though; if you tackle this trail, it's devilishly difficult. In some places, it requires a vertical climb where falling is not an option. Be prepared, both physically and mentally, for this challenging hike.
Carl Putvin was a trapper who lived in this area at the turn of the 19th century, trying to eke out a living on the harsh land of the Olympic Peninsula. The trail to the lake bears his name, as testament to the intensity of the life he carved out here.
From the trailhead, set out on a relatively moderately-graded trail. Shortly after departing the trailhead, a small spur trail heads off to a grave marker for Putvin. Take the very short detour to see this marker, which offers his birth and death dates and little more information, then continue up along the trail. For 1.5 miles from the trailhead, follow the banks of Boulder Creek, which splashes and gurgles just out of reach.
The trail switchbacks, and soon begins to climb in earnest, turning away from the creek and traversing east across two drainages that have been improved by WTA trail maintenance crews. Then begins a steep, steady climb up to a junction with the now-closed Boulder Creek Road. Interspersed with forest are peek-a-boo views of the peaks, rooted in the valley you left from.
At the junction with this road bed, turn left, and walk downhill about 200 yards -- this is the only downhill, or indeed only respite you get for this hike. Another trailhead sign greets you on the right, this one pointing to Lake of the Angels.
Begin climbing again, this time on somewhat slippery tread up a big switchback before re-entering the forest and resuming your more-or-less straight up the hill climb. After about three-quarters of a mile of this, pop out into a meadow area. Here the trail curves to the left, and you can enjoy a short break among thimbleberries, a delicious snack when in season.
Fuel up for the final push. From here, you'll approach a headwall, which requires a scramble to get up and over. Don't be fooled by the underwhelming pond that greets you -- that's Lake of the False Prophet, which has befuddled many a hiker before you. Press on another half mile to the true gem -- Lake of the Angels.
WTA Pro Tip: It's possible to camp at Lake of the Angels, but you'll need a wilderness permit. Visitors can obtain a permit by contacting an Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center via phone, email or in person. From the lake, it's possible to take a scramble trail onto the east slopes of Mount Skokomish, A second climbs the northwest end of the canyon to higher alpine areas.
Lake of the Angels
- 7.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 3400 feet
- Highest Point
- 4950 feet
Hiking Lake of the Angels
Lake of the Angels
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.5836, -123.2347 Open in Google Maps