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Mount Storm King Hike: For People Not Afraid of Heights

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We finished climbing up the last ropes section and rounded a corner. The trail seemed to disappear… After a bit of confusion, I looked up and realised that we were to climb up a pretty sheer rockface on the side of a cliff. This was not something I was prepared for…

Girl standing on instafamous rock at Mount Storm King Viewpoint at sunset

The Mount Storm King Hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Olympic National Park, however, it is not recommended for people who are afraid of heights. More on this to follow further down in this blog post.

The hike is technical and consists of not only switchbacks, but also rope sections and scrambling. The incredible views of Lake Crescent from the top however, make all of the pain and effort completely worth it.

This guide will give you everything you need to know about hiking Mount Storm King, including all the juicy details on the rope sections and the terrifying scrambling section at the top.

Helpful Olympic National Park Tips
Visiting Olympic National Park? 👉 Check out this 4 day itinerary to plan your trip!

👉Don’t miss The Hoh Rainforest, one of the mossiest rainforests I have ever seen!

How to Hike Mount Storm King in Washington State

📃 Hike Stats

Distance: 6.6km / 4.1miles
Elevation Gain: 642m / 2,106ft
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours

Dogs allowed: No
Toilets: In the parking lot but not along the trail

📍 Where is Mount Storm King Located

Mount Storm King is located in Olympic National Park in Washington State. The closest town to the trailhead is Port Angeles which is about a 25 minute drive.

Where to Park and Finding the Trailhead

For Mount Storm King, you can follow the signs to and park at the Mount Storm King Ranger Station. There you will find a medium sized parking lot where you can park and start your hike from. This is also where you will need to park for Marymere Falls, as it follows the start of the same trail as Mount Storm King.

Mount Storm King Ranger Station

❗ Things to Consider Before Conquering Mount Storm King

  • Bring along a fully charged headlamp (just in case).
  • Bring plenty of food and water – you will be burning lots of energy.
  • Don’t forget your bear spray!
  • It can get be cold up at the viewpoint, especially outside of Summer. We were there in Mid-May and found it quite freezing. Bring layers.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when they can expect you back.
  • Wear good hiking boots or trail runners with a hard sole and lots of grip!
  • You may want to consider bringing along a pair of hiking poles for this one to help with the slippery sections and to save your knees on the way down.
  • Don’t forget to download offline maps such as Alltrails.
  • If you are scared of heights, this is not the hike for you!
Couple at the top of Mount Storm King at sunset

💧 Don’t Forget Marymere Falls!

Marymere Falls can be done either separately or together with Mount Storm King. If you just want to hike to Marymere Falls and skip Mount Storm King altogether, you will need to start from the same trailhead. The falls trail follows the same trail as Mount Storm King for the first half mile or so, where the trail then splits off to head up through the forest for Storm King and continues straight for Marymere Falls.

Girl standing at MArymere Falls viewpoint

The return hike to Marymere Falls (without continuing onto Mount Storm King) is 1.7 miles / 2.7km with an elevation gain of 315 ft / 96m. It will take you less than an hour altogether.

🎫 Do I need a Hiking Pass or Permit?

Mount Storm King is located in Olympic National Park so you will need a National Parks Pass. You can purchase an America the Beautiful pass from the REI website here which covers loads of national parks in the USA for a year.

America the Beautiful National Parks Pass

🦁 Wildlife found on the Mount Storm King Trail

There is plenty of wildlife in Olympic National Park to watch out for such as deer, black bears, mountain lions and more.

Along the trail and at the viewpoint, make sure you watch out for the pesky Jay birds. They will steal any food you have out if they are given a chance. We were stalked by a group of them when we tried to have a snack on the way up. They followed us for about 20 minutes! The reason for this is that they have been fed far too often by tourists and hikers. Don’t encourage these birds by feeding them as this will lead to them being aggressive towards future hikers.

🚻 Facilities

There are bathrooms at the parking lot but not along the trail. Make sure that you bring plenty of water and food with you as there is no where to fill up your bottle at the trailhead or along the trail, except for the waterfall if you have a water filter with you.

🥾 How Hard is Mount Storm King and What is the Rope Section Like?

I’m going to be completely transparent here. Mount Storm King ended up being a lot more terrifying than my friends and I had expected. The rope section however, looked scarier than it actually was which was a relief because I had heard so much about the dreaded rope section and how scary it was.

The Mount Storm King Rope Section

There are 4 rope sections one after the other. They are all pretty close to the end of the trail so if you have hiked this far and want to back out, it’s going to feel pretty awful. The first one is the hardest because you have to navigate past a tree. After this bit, it’s much less tricky. Coming back down the ropes, I recommend going down backwards if you can. You will have much more control this way.

The Mount Storm King Scramble Section

Once we had finished the rope section, we couldn’t quite figure out where to go from there. There was a very steep rock climb to our left with a huge, sheer drop off on one side and we decided straight away that that definitely was not the right way to go. However, after looking around for the trail and checking Alltrails, we realised to our horror that it was indeed the way to go. Photo of this section of the trail in the trail description of this blog post.

Dave went first, acting like it was nothing and disappeared over the top. My friends and I started panicking when we call out to him and there was no answer, but eventually he reappeared and let us know that this was the way we had to go. At that point, I was half considering not finishing the hike, but we had come so far and the viewpoint was just over the top of this rock climb.

So up I went, along with my friend Chrissy and her boyfriend not far behind us. It was a stressful climb and most of it was spent trying not to look down to the left of us, where the cliffside just kept going down, down, down.

The upside was that the scramble was pretty short and as soon as we reached the top we sat down, clinging to the rocks for dear life. The drop offs were on both sides now and I started to feel quite sick.

Eventually, Dave got us all to move closer to the viewpoint where the ground was wider and felt a lot safer and I started to feel much better. I even managed to make it onto the famous Instagram rock, which was also pretty terrifying by the way but I felt pretty comfortable by this stage after acclimatising to the height.

Always know your limits. Your life is not worth a photo.

🕐 Mount Storm King Hiking Time

Mount Storm King can take anywhere from 2.5 – 3.5 hours. We found the way back down was much quicker than the way up, especially with the added adrenaline of hiking down in the dark as we were up there for sunset.

🐶 Are Dogs Allowed on the Mount Storm King Trail

Dogs are not allowed on the Mount Storm King trail.

📆 When is the Best Time of the Year to Hike Mount Storm King

I always love visiting Olympic National Park in the Spring, however, Summer and Fall are also great times to hike Mount Storm King. I would not recommend hiking Mount Storm King in the Winter due to the scrambling section.

The main issue with Spring is that it can be rainy in Olympic National Park so it can be hard to find a good dry weekend. The first time we visited Olympic, our car broke down so we missed out on Mount Storm King anyway but it was also pretty rainy.

📷 Where is the Instagram Photo Spot on Mount Storm King

The classic Mount Storm King Instagram photo spot is right at the top. You will need to do all of the rope sections and the final scramble section to reach it.

Couple standing at top of Mount Storm King at sunset
Insta photo spot on mount Storm King

Then, once you are at the viewpoint, you will see the rock that every stands or sits on right in front of you with the gorgeous view in the background.

The rock is placed in a lot more of an iffy spot than I had expected… A classic Instagram versus reality moment right there. And at first I had not even wanted to try to take a photo but I slowly got used to the height that we were at.

🛌 Where to Stay Nearby

The best town to stay in for Mount Storm King is Port Angeles. This is where we stayed and we loved that it was central to grocery stores and cafes and also close to places like Mount Storm King and Hurricane Ridge. Some great options for staying Port Angeles are:

Alternatively if you are camping, there is a campground located at Lake Crescent, called Fairholme Campground which is only a 4 minute drive from the Mount Storm King Trailhead. It is a beautiful campground set in a mossy forest right next to the lake. You can reserve campsites during the peak season here.

🥾 Mount Storm King Trail Description

Start of trail

You will start the Mount Storm King / Marymere Falls trail from the parking lot. Head towards the Ranger Station and walk along the path. You will pass the Ranger Station on your right and the lake will be on your left.

Keep walking through the forest and you will come to a short tunnel which will take you under the main road. I thought it sounded like we were under water when we went through it.

Tunnel along the Mount Storm King trail

After the tunnel, you will continue your walk through the forest on a flat trail. This is the easiest part of the hike so make sure you enjoy it. The forest is really pretty with lots of vibrant green moss and huge, old trees.

Before long, you will find yourself at the turn off to the Mount Storm King trail which you will see on your right, heading up a trail through the forest. If you want to continue onto Marymere Falls first, you will need to keep going straight.

Trail turn off for Mount Storm King

Marymere Falls

The hike to Marymere Falls is 1.7 miles / 2.7km with an elevation gain of 315 ft / 96m. The trail is flat until the last part where you will hike up some stairs to the waterfall. Marymere Falls is stunning!

Bridge leading to Marymere Falls

I recommend visiting before midday or late afternoon (before the sun pops out over the top of the waterfall, making it hard to get a photo without a lot of sunflare).

Once you reach the falls, you can hiking up and around to complete a short loop before heading back the way you came.

Mount Storm King Switchbacks

The start (and the majority) of the Mount Storm King trail (where it breaks off from the Marymere Falls trail), consists of A LOT of switchbacks. Some steep, some not too bad. There are a couple of sections along the switchbacks with lots of roots that you will have to scramble up a little but overall, this part of the trail is pretty tame.

The Rope Section

After what will probably feel like a lifetime of switchbacks, you will finally reach a bit of a ridgeline with steep drop offs to your right. I don’t know if it was because we were in the forest for so long, but when we reached this section of the trail, I freaked out a little.

Mount STorm King Trail

To be fair, I hadn’t been on a ridgeline for quite some time, so maybe I was just out of practice mentally. I managed to get past this section and we approached the start of the ropes which actually didn’t seem as bad in comparison.

There are 4 rope sections, each with including a few different rope climbs. The first one was the hardest because you have to squeeze past a tree in the middle of the climb whilst switching from one rope to another. I recommend bringing along a pair of climbing gloves if you have some to keep your hands fresh and clear of rope burn.

The Top Scramble

Just when you think you’ve tackled the hardest part of the hike, you come to a terrifying scramble on the edge of a ridge. This for me was mentally the hardest part. Physically, the scramble wasn’t too bad. Just don’t look down.

If you are scared of heights and you’ve somehow made it past the rope section, this is the part that will get you. I felt quite sick once I got to the top but it when away once I got to a wider section of the viewpoint.

Girl hiking down Mount Storm King on the rope section

🎒 Packing List

💭 Our Thoughts

Mount Storm King was epic. Terrifying. But epic. That is all.

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