Kloshe Nanitch and North Point – 3,340 ft. Elevation gain: 2,572 ft. Distance: 9 mi. Time: 4 hrs. Trailhead: 768 ft. Enjoyment rating 4.
Overview:You will find few people on this little known hike. Surprising, since it is a pleasant hike through a beautiful lowland forest to two fire lookouts built on rocky outcrop peaks west of Lake Crescent. The top offers views of the Pacific Coast, the Strait, Lake Crescent, the Sol Duc Valley and Mt. Olympus. Built in 1929-30, during a bad fire season, the lookouts provide a good place to get out of the weather. I put these two together because they are a mere one half mile apart and are part of the same ridge. At 3,160 ft. and 3,340 ft. respectively, these lower peaks are a good alternative when snows cover the higher mountains. You can drive to the lookouts on forest service road #3040 but it is steep and rough. I prefer to walk.
Getting to The Trail:The well maintained trail begins at the end of the W. Snider road, 9 miles west of Lake Crescent, and 35 miles west of Port Angeles. It is a right turn (north) off of hwy 101 and passes by the Snider national forest work center. (If you want to drive up to the lookouts, take a left turn at the work center on forest service road 3040, then a right on 3040-595. It’s 8 ½ mi. to Kloshe Nanitch and 9 mi to North Point.) The Kloshe Nanitch trailhead is well signed on snider road and easy to find.
The Trail:The trail follows the lower Sol Duc River for the first quarter mile, then turns left at the sign and switchbacks up the ridge, through heavy salal and a fairy-land forest. The trees; Doug Fir, Mountain Hemlock and Vine Maples are thin enough and lacey enough to provide views almost all the way to the top. The hiker never feels closed in. In the fall, when hundreds of vine maples turn red and yellow, this forest is particularly beautiful. At .5 mi. you cross a foot bridge over a fast tumbling creek. At 2.5 mi. find a good vantage point to views of the Olympic Mountains to the South. The only blight on the view is the large clear cut on 2,500 ft. Bigler Mt. just across the valley, south. At 3.2 mi. break out of the trees and see the large rocky outcrop peak to the left above you. At 3.5 miles come to a junction sign which says “Kloshe Nanitch .5 mi. left. Lookout loop 1.5 mi. straight ahead.” You can go either way here.
The Peak:If you go left you come to the Kloshe Nanitch lookout first and the most civilized peak in the Olympics. Here you will find a bathroom, an enclosed lookout, benches, a picnic table, parking spaces for four vehicles, information signs, and forest service road #3040-595. This is a perfect place for lunch in any weather. And views here are dramatic. To the southeast is Mt.Olympus and directly south below you is the Sol Duc river winding through the valley. Along the ridge to the east is Mt. Muller and beyond it is Lake Crescent. To the North is the western reach of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And West, in the distance, the Pacific Coast.
To finish the lookout loop, go up the road about .3 mi. Notice a trail turning right just before you come to the North Point lookout and the end of this spur road. The North point lookout is closed because it is being used for research. Views here are also dramatic and much the same as Kloshe Nanitch. Back on the trail, which turned right off the road, hike .2 mile to a junction sign with the Mt. Muller trail. (Straight ahead 5 mi. is Mt. Muller.) Turn right and hike the final .7 mi. to complete the 1.5 mile lookout loop. You are now back to the sign where you went left to Kloshe Nanitch. From here it is 3.5 miles back to the trailhead.