hiking lower lena lake trail in olympic national forest

hiking lower lena lake trail

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a hike on here, my friends! Since our first snowfall was in early October here in Alaska this year, we haven’t really hiked much (I know – shocking, right?) While on my momcation in Washington this past weekend, however, we decided to go for a hike, which was really my only request. I never finished my PNW bucket list, so we picked hiking Lower Lena Lake Trail in Olympic National Forest from the list and prepared for a proper hiking day.

Lower Lena Lake Trail in Olympic National Forest

One thing that I loved about our time at JBLM was that there were just so many great hikes within a reasonable drive from our home on North Fort. Lower Lena Lake Trail is no exception. Our friends still live on North Fort, and the trail is near Lilliwaup, Washington, which is about an hour and a half away.

It’s a popular area year-round, though it’s definitely more so in the summer when visitors flock to camp, backpack, hike, swim, and more. It’s also a popular area in the winter for snowshoeing and escaping the rain for a bit of snow, which certainly doesn’t disappoint!

lower lena lake trail weather

best winter hiking near jblm

best snowy hikes washington state

Hiking Lower Lena Lake Trail

It doesn’t usually get super cold in Washington, but I definitely brought a little cold snap with me from Alaska. The day I arrived, it was about 19F, and the Saturday had a high of 15F in Olympic National Forest. None of us wanted to be hiking Lower Lena Lake Trail that far below freezing, so we waited until Sunday when the temperature was closer to 35F at the trailhead.

I read the trip reports on AllTrails before we left, and everything mentioned a good bit of snowfall by Lena Lake, as well as the final mile directly leading to the top. It was, however, completely snow-covered, and I’m glad we were well-prepared with layers, waterproof hiking shoes, grips, and more. There wasn’t much standing water, thankfully, and though there were a few ice slicks, it was a really beautiful hike.

hiking pnw winter

lower lena lake winter

hiking lower lena lake

lower lena lake trail

Lower Lena Lake Trail Weather

The nice part about hiking Lower Lena Lake Trail is that there’s a proper little parking lot at the trailhead, as well as public restrooms that are open all year. Also, though the trail has a pretty steady elevation gain throughout, it’s tempered by switchbacks that make the climb seem a little more manageable. My friends’ daughters trekked the trail like bosses with zero complaints.

The weather at Lower Lena Lake Trail is pretty comparable to the surrounding areas, but you do notice a pretty significant temperature swing from the base to the top. It went from about 35F to about 25F at the top, so though we spent about 25 minutes at the lookout prior to reaching the campground at the top, we couldn’t stay much longer due to the cold. Worth it though? Heck yes. I don’t usually love an out and back, but with stunning views, it’s really the perfect payoff.

Tips for Hiking Lower Lena Lake Trail

Trail Length: 6.2 miles roundtrip; there is an option to continue towards Upper Lena Lake, but you add significant mileage (about 12 roundtrip)

Level of Difficulty: This out and back is rated moderate, and I’d say it was definitely moderate with snow on the ground.

Cost: You’ll need your America the Beautiful pass, or you can pay $5 for the day at the trailhead

Dogs: Yes! Dogs are allowed on this trail, so long as they’re on a leash

Tips: If hiking in the winter, you will definitely want waterproof hiking boots/shoes with great grip, and I definitely recommend spikes or yaktrax, as well. I also recommend hand and/or foot warmers and plenty of water!

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