Mt. Ellinor

6.2 miles round trip, 3,300 feet elevation gain

Mt. Ellinor is one of the most prominent peaks on the very southern edge of the Olympics, separated by a short, traversable ridge from Mt. Washington. After watching the weather obsessively all week, my original plans were dashed by unseasonable snow and winter conditions throughout the state. However, the Olympics and the Peninsula were forecasted to be relatively clear, so I set my sights on Mt. Ellinor and a possible traverse to her neighbor.

Upon waking on Saturday morning, it was clear that a weather system had moved through the area the night before, making a climb up Mt. Washington and it’s steep headwalls impossible and dangerous. Still determined to climb a mountain, I quickly packed some layers, water and snacks, and headed out to the peninsula around 6:45am.

The drive out to the trailhead was relatively pleasant, with a stop at Hoodsport Coffee Company for coffee, beans and a delicious bagel breakfast sandwich.

I reached the lower trailhead around 9:15am and headed up the trail. This mountain has two trailheads: the upper trailhead requires a pass and is only 1.9 miles each way, while the lower pass is free and is 3.1 miles each way. I think you know which one Kendall Strenuous Walker chose!

The 42-degree air was chilly but refreshing, and seeing the sun shine was uplifting as I started my trek through beautiful old growth forest.

Beginning the trek through old-growth forest

Some sort of fungi that looked like snow/ice

Headed to the summit

After linking with the upper trail, the path then sharply starts ascending. It was definitely a stair workout to the top! The trail is very well maintained and even with the slick rocks and small bit of mud from the night’s precipitation before, it was very navigable and I never lost my footing in my Lone Peaks.

At around 4,500 feet, snow started appearing on the foliage around the trail. I suddenly felt a bit underdressed in my t-shirt and shorts.

The first set of many stairs

Loved the juxtaposition of fall and winter

Lovely views while ascending a staircase of boulders

More snow getting closer to the summit

Clouds teasing us with a bit of a clearing

Around here, it became necessary to throw on several layers to block the icy wind while I carried on to the summit. I would estimate it was at or below freezing at the 5,900 foot summit.

Views opening up from the summit to Hood Canal to the east

Amazing summit views to surrounding peaks and valleys

Mt. Washington

Views down into the valley and a picture perfect alpine lake

After enjoying the beautiful but frigid summit for several minutes, I began my climb back down, with snow flurries quickly making their way through and then moving on.

No wonder the summit was so cold-it was surrounded by clouds

By 1pm, I was back down to my car, legs having had a thorough workout and my soul rejuvenated after a great summit bid.

This hike also put me at 25 out of 100 of the 100 Classic Hikes of Washington. I started trying to tackle this list this year, after buying the guidebook and realizing that I had already done several of the trips listed! I hope to get to 50 by the end of next year. ☺️

View out to Lake Cushman from the forest service road

Beautiful forest road with fall colors as I started my drive back home


  1. When I was heading to the coast this weekend, it was crazy to see the fresh snow dusting up high on the mountains already! You must’ve hauled ass up there, strenous Walker! 😄💪🏻

  2. That fungi is called Hericium erinaceus or lion’s mane. I saw it at alpine lakes wilderness this year for my first time. It is edible and my friend who loves foraging for fungi states “they’re pretty good too”. Love seeing the fall colors and contrast with the snow. What a gorgeous hike. Glad you made it out, weather be damned. haha.

    1. Wow, I think edible mushrooms are fascinating! I would love to take a class and find out what you can and can’t eat in the wild. Definitely wouldn’t have thought this one was edible. Haha thanks for telling me the name!!

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