Elwha Brochure

Many of the activities and sights described on this page may be difficult to access due to road damage and closure to vehicle access. Please check current alerts and Day Hikes chart below 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. Hike to the Glines Canyon Spillway Overlook to learn more of the story and witness how revegetation crews and nature have greened the
exposed sediments of the drained reservoir. The Elwha River Restoration story continues.
 

Elwha Area Information

Facilities: River changes have washed out Olympic Hot Springs Road about one mile south of the park boundary—NO VEHICLE ACCESS BEYOND MADISON FALLS TRAILHEAD
Hikers, bikers, and stock—detour the washout via 0.8-mile bypass trail intersecting Cascade Rock trail to reach the road beyond the washout, additional information available on area bulletin boards
Restrooms: Accessible vault toilet at Madison Falls trailhead.
Picnic Areas: Madison Falls trailhead or Altair.
Regulations: Pets and bicycles not permitted on most trails but welcome on bypass trail and roads.
 

Day Hikes Around Elwha

Trail Description Distance Elevation Change
Madison Falls Wheelchair accessible, paved trail to a 60-ft. waterfall 0.1 mi (one way) 26'
**NOTE: The road washout adds varied mileage to all trails below starting from the Madison Falls parking area.
Cascade Rock Forested trail with spur to valley views 2.6 mi (one way) 1,835'
West Elwha via
Herrick Rd.
Forested west bank of Elwha River starting from Herrick Road, limited
parking
3 mi (one way) 630'
Glines Canyon
Overlook
Dramatic views from part of a former dam, with exhibits about Elwha
River restoration
3.6 mi (one way) 876'
Griff Creek Steep trail, ascends through forest to views of the valley 4.8 mi (one way) 3,638'.
Smokey Bottom Trail winds through forest above former Lake Mills 5.8 mi (one way) 2,200'
Smokey Hill A descent to the Elwha River near former Lake Mills 6.4 mi (one way) 1,692'
Elwha-Hurr Hill Steep climb through forest to Hurricane Hill 8 mi (one way) 5,855'
Goblins Gate View a slot canyon where the river cuts through 8.1 mi (one way) 2,135'
Olympic Hot
Springs
Natural hot springs remain where a resort once stood 10.5 mi (one way) 3,833'
Wolf Creek Steep route down to the Elwha river, providing mountain views and
subalpine meadows near Hurricane Ridge
14.4 mi (one way) 6,186'
 
Current Map of Elwha Area Access
Current map of Elwha area access and distances

NPS

Last updated: October 28, 2021

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600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles , WA 98362

Phone:

360 565-3130

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