Elwha Brochure

Many of the activies and sights described on this page may be difficult to access due to road damage and closures. Please check current alerts and closures for more information.

A Salmon Homecoming

For millennia, the Klallam people relied on fish nurtured by the Elwha River watershed. That relationship was largely severed in 1913, when the Elwha Dam was built, blocking fish runs five miles from the river mouth. Glines Canyon Dam was completed upstream in 1927. Though a state law required fish passage, both dams were built without it. Thousands of salmon no longer reached most of the Elwha valley.

But in 1992, Congress passed a law requiring restoration of this watershed and its fish, and authorizing dam removal. After careful planning, both dams were removed by 2014. Within months of dam removal, salmon were spawning in the park for the first time in 100 years! Look for them as you explore this wilderness valley. Or stop by the Glines Canyon Spillway Overlook to learn more of the story and witness how revegetation crews and nature are greening the exposed sediments of the drained reservoir. The Elwha River Restoration story continues...
 

Elwha Area Information

Facilities: Elwha Ranger Station: self-serve information and wilderness camping permits; staffed intermittently summers.
Camping: Elwha: 40 sites (one wheelchair accessible), open year-round (Nov. thru March: pit toilets, no water.) Altair: Note: closed in 2015 due to flood damage. Check locally for current status. When open, both have fire pits with grates, picnic tables, animal-proof food storage, accessible toilets, and potable water (summer only).
Picnic Areas: Madison Falls: tables, accessible vault toilet. Elwha Ranger Station: tables 100 yards past ranger station.
Regulations: Pets and bicycles are not permitted on trails.
 

Day Hikes Around Elwha

Trail Description Miles Elevation Change
Madison Falls Wheelchair accessible, paved trail to a 60 ft. waterfall. 0.1 one way 46 ft.
Cascade Rock Ascends through forest with a spur trail to valley views. 2.1 one way 1,256 ft.
Griff Creek Ascends through forest to views of the valley 2.8 one way 2,841 ft.
West Elwha Along forested west bank of Elwha River to Herrick Rd. 3.2 one way 221 ft.
Humes Ranch Loop Forested trail to a 1905 homestead. Shorter options loop via Krause Bottom or Goblin Gates. up to 6.5 loop up to 665 ft.
Elwha-Hurricane Hill Climbs steeply through forest to Hurricane Hill. 6.2 one way 5,305 ft.
Wolf Creek Climbs to subalpine meadows near Hurricane Ridge. 7.9 one way 3,837 ft.
Smokey Bottom Winds through forest above former Lake Mills. 1.9 one way 18 ft.
Smokey Hill Steep descent to the Elwha River above former Lake Mills. 0.5 one way 400 ft.
Boulder Lake Steady climb through forest to a sublapine lake. 5.9 one way 2,505 ft.
Olympic Hot Springs/ Appleton Pass Hike 2.5 miles (173-foot gain) to unmaintained hot springs, or continue climbing to a mountain pass. 7.7 one way (to Appleton Pass) 3,321 ft.
 
A map of the Elwha River area including the river itself, roads, hiking trails, parking, picnic areas. Text on the map describes homesteading life in the area and urges visitors to treat historical structures with respect.

Last updated: March 19, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Phone:

(360) 565-3130

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