This is a great hike, crossing multiple streams, and passing by two alpine lakes. The loop doesn't include short side trips to the two lakes, but the extra distance is definitely worth it.
The first side trip option is a short jaunt to Boulder Lake where you can stop for a snack or even a chilly dip in the pristine waters.
Up on Happy Lake Ridge, there's the slightly longer option to check out Happy Lake. This side trip adds about 0.8 miles to the overall loop, but is worth it if you have the time.
The loop begins on an old road grade (Olympic Hot Springs Trail
), which previously had been built to service a resort on hot springs in the area. After about three miles on the road grade, you turn up the hill and begin a very steep climb to Boulder Lake Via the Appleton Pass Trail
and the Boulder Lake Trail
. There is nothing amazing or extremely notable about this climb, it simply climbs through montane forest toward sub-alpine.
After this climb, there is a short side trail to the left which goes to Boulder Lake, a beautiful sub-alpine lake with exposed rock in the background. In the summer, this lake is warm enough to swim in for extended periods of time, but otherwise a quick dip into frigid waters is always possible.
From the lake, the Happy Lake Ridge Trail
climbs a bit further to gain the ridge. The trail continues along this ridge, offering views into the Elwha valley. It eventually reaches the turn-off to Happy Lake, which is not as picturesque as other lakes in the Olympics, as it is buried in the trees, yet it is still worth the trip down.
The trail then continues a short while longer along Happy Lake Ridge before dropping toward the road.
If one were to hike this backwards from what is drawn, they could stop at the hot springs before the quick three mile, road-grade jaunt out.
Wildflowers in early, and mid-summer.
The hot springs near the loop once housed a large resort, now long gone, though some remnants remain.