Before the recent Elwha Dam Removal we used to kayak on or hike around Lake Aldwell. I was initially saddened when I realized I was going to lose one of my favorite local kayaking spots but, it’s been fun to re-discover this lake which has probably now become more accessible for everyone to enjoy. This last weekend was the first time our family hiked the other-worldly terrain of this lake’s mostly dried-up bed. To me, what makes this “new” trail unique on the Olympic Peninsula is that it’s relatively flat and wide-open. Here on the Olympic Peninsula we are surrounded by beautiful trails but, many of them can be steep or enclosed by towering evergreen trees. Within feet of the parking lot (off Hwy 101 near the lake’s old boat launch), you are in the open sun and can quickly catch the stunning mountain view. You can enjoy nature’s eye candy including a view of the Elwha River cutting its new path through this old reservoir bed, watch eagles and listen to woodpeckers, witness how quickly this drained lake bed is sprouting new plants, and let your kids have a blast scrambling and playing in the wide expanse of this wildly fun and tactile playground!
p.s. Be prepared for some mud, clay and a few water crossings. It was actually pretty dry over this past sunny weekend but, it’s still a newly drained reservoir and i don’t know if or when the clay will dry up (oh yeah, we occasionally get rain here…LOL.) If your kids are like mine, making sloppy clay patties is just irresisitible! Since it’s almost a guarantee that your kids are going to end up happily filthy, bringing a change of clothes can be handy…or just throw the kids in the car in their skivvies, like we did!
- From Port Angeles, WA, go west on Hwy 101
- Take a right on Lake Aldwell Road
- Drive ~ 1/2 mile to the end where there’s a parking lot
- Now you’re ready to explore the gravelly bed of the old Lake Aldwell! Have fun!