Trail Spotlight: Mt Ellinor
Olympic Peninsula, Washington State
This Olympic Peninsula hike might be one of my favorites, if I can catch a less crowded day. Unfortunately, I'm usually sharing the trail quite a bit in the summer time, as it’s an easy drive up with no parking pass required at the lower trailhead.
In the winter, this hike earns a roller coaster ride down the mountain in an avalanche chute.
Mount Ellinor, named after the fiancé of the surveyor in the area, is one of the more prominent mountains seen from the other side of the sound. Davidson, the surveyor, also named the 3 other peaks in the area after his fiancé’s family members.
Mt. Ellinor isn’t one of the tallest in the Olympics, but she has some of the most stunning views, is incredibly accessible, and from the top, Mt Olympus (the highest peak in the Olympics) is visible.
What to check out
In the summer time, this is a warm hike with views galore. In fact, if it’s a cloudy day, you may want to save the hike for another time. The views are what make this hike so glorious
Strict pup-on-leash policy, but understandably so. Mountain goats frequent the area. They are a cool sight to see among the wild flowers blooming, but easily scared off by, and can do damage to, dogs.
In the winter, conditions drastically vary. Say goodbye to the upper trailhead regardless, but you may be parking the car and hiking a mile or two just to get to the lower trailhead.
-Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required at upper trailhead
-No pass required at lower trailhead.
-6.6mi roundtrip, from lower trailhead
-Summit elevation: 5,944ft (1,811m)
-3,300ft elevation gain
-Easily found trailhead through Hoodsport. Very well labeled.
Ellinor is a true example of a PNW hike. Starting off in lush green forests that feel damp, even on a warm summer day, you begin fully shielded from any view or sunshine.
It’s easy to roll the eyes and scoff at the standard Washington hike.
Yup. Moss. Check.
More moss, got it.
Big trees blocking any chance of a sun-kissed face. Sounds about right.
You know you shouldn’t complain, but at some point you want to see the glorious sunshine and feel less… damp.
The first 2.5 or so will be through this green forest of easy hiking from the lower trailhead. Once connected to the upper trailhead, it’s a steep and brutal climb upward filled with short switchbacks, rocky scrambling, and disappearing trees.
In the winter, the rock scrambling completely disappears into pillows of white that are almost too pretty to put foot prints on.
You'll find the notch is the best part of this hike. In the summer it’s a beautiful grassy meadow of wildflowers and green, often feeding mountain goats. In the winter it becomes an avalanche chute that the brave day climb up to slide down. How many mountains can you say you slid down like a water park slide? One. This one. And it’s epic.
The top views obviously take the breath away, but the whole hike to get there is worth stopping and photographing every quarter mile.
Even if you don’t repeat hikes often, but this one is a seasonal repeat for most.
She never gets old.