Lena Lake

Head out to Hood Canal and explore Lena Lake Trail, one of the area's most popular trails with a rich history. While the shores of a large alpine lake always draw a crowd, Lena Lake also serves as a basecamp for exploring Upper Lena Lake, the Brothers Wilderness, portions of the Olympic National Park and a whole host of mountaintops.
Total Distance: 5.8 miles
Total Ascent: 1200ft
Highest Point: 1900ft
Difficulty: Easy
Our Hiking Time: 3h 15m
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
To get there, take I-5 south to Olympia to Exit 104 toward Aberdeen and Port Angeles. Follow US 101 along Hood Canal almost 49 miles through Shelton and Hoodsport to FR 25, also known as the Hamma Hamma River Road. Take a left and follow the road 7.6 miles to the Lena Lake Trailhead. Privy available.
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From the trailhead, the well-maintained Lena Lake Trail #810 begins a series of fairly gentle switchbacks before starting to climb in earnest. As you climb, listen to the rushing sound of Lena Creek and watch as a young forest slowly gives way to sturdy old growth. After about two miles, cross a footbridge spanning Lena Creek and press onward for another mile through mossy forest to reach Chapel Rock. Perched a few hundred feet above the lake, Chapel Rock is a favorite stopping point for hikers to take in the panorama below. Have a snack or break out your lunch and enjoy the view before continuing down to the shore.

From Chapel Rock it's a short jaunt to Lena Lake, though the trail continues out to the far end of the lake, with plenty of opportunities to grab a little section of rocky beach. Along the way you’ll pass the trail for Upper Lena Lake and eventually cross a footbridge over Lena Creek. Here you can find the lake’s 28 campsites. From the camp the trail continues onward into the Valley of the Silent Men and provides access to the many scramble routes up the shoulders of The Brothers. Whether you’re spending the night or just want a longer day hike, a climb to Upper Lena Lake is well worth the effort, though the 3.5 mile climb is rougher and more difficult than the main trail.

Lena Lake is a classic. Approachable by almost any hiker and very popular in the summer, it’s a hike almost everyone knows. The hike is also a perfect option for an introductory backpack or a day hike with the kids. And while the lake loses some luster when the water level drops late in the season, the quiet, tree-lined shores offer solace and more than a day’s worth of exploration.

History

For eons, Lena Creek flowed down between the shoulders of Lena Mountain and Mt. Bretherton. Then, roughly 1,000 years ago, a massive section of the ridge above the creek slid down into the basin below, blocking the creek. The creek backed up and Lena Lake was formed. Dozens of huge, moss-covered boulders from that slide can be seen from the trail, still sitting where they tumbled to rest centuries ago. Sometime in the late 1910s or early 1920s, the Hamma Hamma Lumber Company built a railroad to access timber in the Hamma Hamma Valley, paving the way for easier access to wilderness once reserved for trappers and prospectors. In 1927 Boy Scout Camp Cleland was established at Lena Lake and eventually grew to 6 scout cabins, a dock, a cook house and even a water system. Over the years thousands of Boy Scouts spent summers at Camp Cleland, including some that eventually made names for themselves in the outdoor community such as Chet Ullin and Ira Spring. By the late 1930s improvements to the Hamma Hamma Road and the Lena Lake trail provided easy access to the unattended camp. After months of rough use, the scouts would return in the summer to find ruined cabins and stolen supplies and by 1941 the decision was made to close the camp. Today all the remains of the camp is a small plaque on Chapel Rock commemorating the experiences of Cleland’s scouts and leaders.
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