Mt. Skokomish and Lake of the Angels: 6,434 ft. Elevation gain: 4,950 ft. Distance: 9.8 mi. Time: 9-10 hrs. Trailhead: 1,500 ft. Alpine 50%. Enjoyment rating 4+
Overview:Skykomish is a shorter but very steep hike to a beautiful, Lake of the Angels, set in a large alpine basin. And towering above the lake are the massive rocky peaks of Mt. Stone and Mt. Skokomish. Even the trail to the lake involves some light to moderate rock scrambling. The off trail portion, up to Mt. Skokomish, involves more difficult rock scrambling. But it is all worth it. The views in every direction are awesome and the whole area is one of the most beautiful and rugged in the Olympics.
Getting to The Trailhead: From U.S Hwy 101, 13 miles north of Hoodsport and near mile marker 318, turn west on the signed, Hamma Hamma River Road. Drive 12 miles to the Putvin Trail, No. 813. An historical marker on the right side of the road, dedicated to Pioneer Carl Putvin, will mark the beginning of the trail. Note that the road is paved the first 8 miles to the Lena Lakes trail then becomes gravel.
The Trail:The trail climbs moderately up Boulder Creek for the first .5 mile, then cuts south across the ridge and three drainages, where it comes out on an old abandoned road, at 1.6miles. Turn left for a couple hundred feet and come to a trail junction and sign on the right for Lake of the Angels, 2 miles. The first mile up this trail is very difficult, you gain 1,500 feet of elevation from 2,500 to 4,000. The first half of the mile is steep but the trail is good. The second half mile is even steeper and rougher and includes some scrambling up a couple of rock gullies. They’re not life threatening but require concentration and a snail’s pace. Note that you begin seeing Mt. Skokomish towering on your left and Mt. Stone ahead on your right. At the end of this difficult mile, 2.6 miles from the trailhead, you top out into an alpine wonderland. This high bench is covered with meadows, a large “pothole” pond and the meandering upper reaches of Whitehorse Creek. The massive rock spires making up the three peaks of Mt. Stone are on your right. Mt. Skokomish towers to your left, east.
Continue around the pond, through more meadows, then begin climbing the final ridge, one mile to Lake of the Angels. The small lake, at 4,900 feet elevation and 3.9 miles, is in a beautiful setting. Drained by Whitehorse Creek it is surrounded by short grass meadows and rugged peaks. West is Mt. Stone, directly east is Mt.Skokomish. Straight ahead, south, is Mt.Hopper, rising behind the West Ridge of Mt. Skokomish.
The Peak:To get up Mt. Skokomish, one mile and 1,500 feet of elevation further, continue straight ahead,around the lake, and hike off trail, south about a quarter mile up the broad, rocky gully which drains snowmelt into the lake. (Note that at the lake you are behind a part of the north ridge of Skokomish and cannot see the peak well from this vantage point. You can choose to go up this north ridge, directly east from the lake but it is steeper than going around.) After a quarter mile up the gully, turn left, east, heading for a notch in the north ridge of Skokomish. Keep the pinnacles of the north ridge to your right. Continue east in the notch or gully until you come around to the east face of Skykomish. Stay in the meadows, below the rocky outcroppings and traverse southeast across the face of the mountain. Just before you hit the southeast ridge turn up toward the peak and hike to the small saddle just left of the peak. Once at the saddle turn right, over rock to the peak. This is the south peak and is the highest at 6,434 ft. The north peak, though 50 feet lower, is a steeper pinnacle and more difficult to climb.
During the climb the views are great, but the views from the top are even more inspiring. East is the Puget Sound and Mt. Raineer, large in the distance. Southeast is Mt. Henderson. West is Mt. Hopper. Northeast is Mt. Stone. Further to the northeast are Mt. Lena, Bretherton and the Brothers. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the Olympics and you will probably be alone to enjoy it to the fullest.
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