“Head steadily uphill to enjoy quiet Lena Lake amid Old Growth forest. A favorite east Olympic trail!”
— Emily Roeben
Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
Although steep, kids will love the lake at the end, the big trees along the trail and the huge boulders to discover.
Best time to go is May through November. For current conditions, call the Hood Canal Ranger District: 360-765-2200.
Lower Lena Lake is a great destination for day hikers, trail runners or overnight backpackers. The trail is well-maintained, although there are plenty of rocks and roots users will need to be on the lookout for. The trail is moderately steep for a little more than the first half, with switchbacks helping visitors to slowly conquer the elevation. The trail becomes easier near the lake. Since you are working your way uphill on the way in, the trail back out is quite easy, being mostly all downhill.
The route is mostly shaded because of the old growth forest. The trees start big and then get bigger the farther into the woods you go. Boulders along the trail add intrigue, some of them being quite large.
Need to Know
The trailhead is well marked, and there is parking available. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking, and if you plan to venture to the Upper Lena Lake Trail
, have a National Park Pass displayed as well, as Upper Lena Lake is within the Olympic National Park.
The water in Lena Lake is COLD. The lake formed (according to signage at the lake) 1,300 years ago when a landslide blocked Lena Creek. The creek still flows into the north end of the lake, and out the south end, via an underground channel. The moving water keeps the temperature chilly, although dogs and kids still might enjoy the experience.
Backpackers planning on staying overnight have 20+ campsite options around the west and north side of the lake, most with fire rings. There are a few group-size sites on the west side along the water. After crossing Lena Creek on the north side of the lake, there are fewer sites along the water, but many sites north of the trail going up the hillside. At the trail split to The Brothers Trail, if you stay to the right there is another small group-sized campsite right on the water.
The trail to Lena Lake is well maintained and is a moderate grade with long switchbacks. Please stay on the trail. Cutting switchbacks will save only seconds, while the destroyed vegetation will take years to recover. This is a National Recreation Trail and is heavily used during the summer months. Beyond Lower Lena Lake, the trails are much steeper and receive less maintenance.
Flora & Fauna
There are signs warning folks they are in bear country, and we saw a herd of elk within a mile of the trailhead when we left. The forest is old growth at the lake, and there are mosses and ferns everywhere. Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and Bigleaf maple are just a few examples.
History & Background
The lake was formed 1,300 years ago when a rockslide blocked the south end of the valley, damning Lena Creek. The creek now leaves the south end of the lake through an underground channel that surfaces further south.