Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer. Time to get out of the house – enjoy the backyard and visit with friends and have a bbq. Our PNW weekend started with the most depressing gray and drizzling weather. Saturday was tolerable, but Sunday depressing. So when I woke up to sun on Monday Morning, I was excited. I got up at 5 am, stretched, had my coffee, and packed for a nice hike.
First hike of the summer was to Lena Lake. Located on the Olympic Peninsula about 14 miles north of Hoodsport, it is a very popular hike. And for good reason. The trail head is easy to navigate to, the signage is great. There is ample parking. The trail itself is well maintained, the elevation gain is manageable at about 1,300 ft in 3.5 miles, and there are not a lot of confusing side trails, so you shouldn’t get lost. Also, there are established camping sites at the lake and they allow dogs on this trail.
I was hiking with a friend, Phil, and between the two of us, we filled the trail with chatter as we tried to identify birds, flowers and rocks. It was memorial day, and it was sunny, and we did run into the crowds (as promised in every online account of this hike we read). But for the most part we ran into very courteous and happy hikers. And a lot of dogs.
After hiking for just under 2 hours, we got our first glimpse of the lake. We continued hiking around the lake until we crossed Lena Creek spilling into the lake and found a nice sunny spot to sit at the edge of the lake.
While my mundane lunch was a granola bar and nuts (I didn’t have anything in the pantry and I had forgotten to get lunch) Phil saved the day with enough olives, peppers, and cheese to share. If only we had brought the beer… but that was waiting for us on ice in the car for the end of the hike! Just as we broke out lunch, people started to invade that nice little pice of shoreline we found… with their dogs. The first family had 3 black labs, then came a couple with 2 more big dogs. Then came another family with 3 more dogs. Luckily the dogs were so interested in the water, the thrown sticks and each other that they didn’t bother us with our lunch. Only the puppy, cricket, was curious enough to stop playing and come over to sniff us out.
It took us an hour and a half to hike back to the car. We cracked a beer and headed out. That was where we made our mistake. Instead of taking the slightly longer southern route, we opted to go over the hood canal bridge… which had been opened and therefore put an hour delay into our return trip.
Lake Lena Trail is located on the Olympic Peninsula in-between Brinnon and Hoodsport and was a 1.5 hour drive from Bainbridge. 45 minutes from Quilcene.
You will need a Northwest Forest Pass or you will get a ticket. The Discover Pass doesn’t cover this area. Dogs are ok and there is camping allowed
The route is 7.2 miles round trip. if you walk to the end of the lake. Elevation gain is 1,300 ft. We took it slow and took pictures. It took us 2 hours to get to our lunch spot and 1.5 hours to hike back to the car. Our lunch stop was 45 minutes. Beware of traffic when estimating the amount of time you need to get home.
Camera: iPhone 6