Lake Crescent
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Exploring Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

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Tucked into the lush wilderness of Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent is known for its crystal clear water, gorgeous backdrops, and great recreational offerings along its shoreline.

Lake Crescent has long since been the “it” place for summertime amusement. The historic lodges and scenic campgrounds offer accommodation to visitors, and outdoor amusement abounds.

You can hike around the lake, rent kayaks, or bum on the beaches if the weather cooperates.

We’ve outlined everything you need to know about this iconic lake below, so keep reading to learn all about Lake Crescent and the area that surrounds it.

Exploring Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent’s southern shore is located along Highway 101, about 20 miles west of Port Angeles.

Map of Lake Crescent with pin points.
Click the image to view the clickable map for Lake Crescent

While there are tons of things to do in Seattle, if you’re looking for a break from the city, ferrying over to Kingston or Bainbridge Island and getting onto WA-104, and then Highway 101 is your best option.

Because of Lake Crescent’s location inside Olympic National Park, visitors will need a pass to access the lake.

RELATED: 21 BEST Things To Do in Port Angeles for The Adventurous

When to Visit Lake Crescent

Olympic National Park is open year-round, so you could technically visit Lake Crescent whenever your heart desires. That being said, the water temperature is chilly at best, even during the warmer months.

Staircase leading to street in downtown Port Angeles, Washington
Port Angeles is a perfect base for exploring the lake.

Summer is by far the best time to visit, and although you may have to share the lake with others, it doesn’t take away from the area’s serenity.

During winter, the lake remains open. However, some concessions and lodges will be closed.

Lake Crescent Kayaking

Kayaking around the lake’s nooks and crannies is a great way to understand how incredible this area is.

The true depth is unknown, but it is thought to be deeper than the Seattle Space Needle! There are numerous spots to put in your kayak around Lake Crescent.

Jetty and kayak on Lake Crescent with mountains in the back.
Lake Crescent kayaking gives you incredible views of the area

If you didn’t haul your own watercraft, there are plenty of rental places for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs around the lake (more on where below!)

Lake Day Use Area near Storm King Station

If you brought your own kayak, head to the lake day-use area near the Storm King Ranger Station, located on the lake’s southern shore.

While the station is not always staffed, when it is, feel free to stop by and ask for some information about the area.


Even if you’re not staying at the campground, Fairholme has a great boat launch and day-use area on the lake’s western end. The Fairholme General Store offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals seasonally.

Note that the general store closes in winter, and it’s a tiny shop that can close without warning, so be sure to check before heading there.

Lake Crescent Lodge

The historic Lake Crescent Lodge also offers seasonal rentals of kayaks (both single and tandem), canoes, and paddleboards.

Kayak rentals at Lake Crescent Lodge.
Rent a kayak from Lake Crescent Lodge

If you’d like to get an in-depth overview of this stunning glacial lake, you could also take a guided kayak tour.

Log Cabin Resort

The Log Cabin Resort is located along Lake Crescent’s northern shore and is another great spot for paddling.

The resort has boat launch facilities, and if you don’t have your own watercraft, head inside to rent kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes.

RELATED: 17 of The Most Scenic Lakes in Washington

Lake Crescent Beaches and Picnic Areas

While the water may be a bit frigid (even during the warm summer months), there are plenty of places to brave a dip in Lake Crescent.

You could also choose to soak up some sun from the shore or enjoy a scenic picnic.

North Shore Picnic Area

The North Shore Picnic Area is open year-round and features accessible vault toilets, fire pits, picnic tables, and stunning views of Lake Crescent.

There are even a few picnic tables situated out on the dock, giving you sweeping vistas of the lake and the mountains surrounding it.

East Beach

The aptly named East Beach is tucked away on the lake’s northeastern end, less than one mile from Highway 101. Its convenient location makes it a popular spot, and this place fills up fast during the warm summer months.

Picnic table at East Beach on Lake Crescent.
Stop for a picnic at East Beach

While the twig-strewn shores may not scream “beach day material,” this is one of the most loved stretches of the lake. It has a nice shallow entry, which means the water is warmer than in other parts of the lake.

There are plenty of picnic tables along the shore, plus a large parking lot, fire pits, and accessible vault toilets. While this is a large area, you should plan to arrive early in the day if you hope to snag a spot!

La Poel

La Poel is one of the lesser-known areas around Lake Crescent. The views aren’t as epic, you can only visit in the summer, and the area is accessible via a steep dirt road—no trailers or large RVs allowed!

RV at La Poel beach on Lake Crescent.
For Lake Crescent without the crowds, head to La Poel. Lucy made it down here just fine.

Those who make the trek to La Poel will find small private shaded areas with various picnic tables scattered along the ridge.

There is no parking lot—just individual parking spaces next to the tables, plus a few additional spots near the water. If you manage to secure a spot here, it’s a great place to spend a few quiet hours.


While Fairholme is mainly known for its campground, even those who aren’t staying overnight can come to enjoy the day-use area.

Fairholme boat ramp at Lake Crescent.
Fairholme is one of the most popular areas at Lake Crescent

This is one of the lake’s most popular areas, and it’s not hard to see why. Towering maple trees and verdant mountains surround the scenic shores, and the facilities here are top-notch.

There are two boat launches, free life jackets available for use, and a general store offering kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals. The shallow water is an excellent place for swimming, just beware of the steep drop-off.

RELATED: 9 Incredible Olympic National Park Beaches to Explore

Top Lake Crescent Hikes

Whether you’re looking for an intense cardio session, breathtaking views, or a relaxing stroll, there are TONS of awesome Lake Crescent Hikes. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best trails in the area.

See our article on Lake Crescent hikes for more info.

Mount Storm King

Distance: 5.3 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2,076 ft

Woman on the summit of Mount Storm King with Lake Crescent below.
Mount Storm King is undeniably the most challenging of the Lake Crescent hikes
  • One of the most challenging yet most rewarding hikes in Olympic National Park.
  • Rope scramble towards the top
  • Epic views from the summit
  • Only for seasoned hikers!

READ MORE: Hiking Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park

Marymere Falls Trail

Distance: 1.7 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 298 ft

View of Marymere Falls with greenery around it.
Waterfalls always make a hike worthwhile
  • Easy hike through old-growth forests
  • Views of Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls, and the mountains
  • Extremely popular—arrive early to avoid the crowds
  • Can add on to Mount Storm King for extra mileage

READ MORE: Marymere Falls Trail in Olympic NP

Devil’s Punchbowl via Spruce Railroad Trail

Distance: 2.4 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 144 ft

Hiker crossing wooden bridge on the Devil's Punchbowl via Spruce Railroad Trail.
Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the best Lake Crescent hikes for families
  • Flat, easy hike—more of a walk than a true hike
  • Paved and accessible
  • Ends at a bridge over a swimming hole—jump in if you dare!
  • Great views throughout

Spruce Railroad Trail: Lake Crescent

Distance: 11.2 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 410 ft

Woman entering tunnel on the Spruce Railroad Trail.
Extend your hike along the Spruce Railroad Trail
  • Long yet easy route along Lake Crescent
  • Can add on to Devil’s Punchbowl
  • Accessible except for a few rough patches

Pyramid Mountain Trail

Distance: 6.6 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2,486 ft

View of Lake Crescent from the Pyramid Mountain Trail.
Pyramid Mountain looming over Lake Crescent
  • One of the hardest hikes in the park
  • More rugged than Mount Storm King
  • Less crowded than most other trails
  • Great views of Lake Crescent from the summit

Moments in Time Trail

Distance: 0.7 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 9ft

Woman through tall trees on the Moments in Time Trail.
Fairytale scenery on the Moments in Time Trail
  • One of the easiest and shortest trails in the park
  • Self guided nature trail with info about the flora and fauna
  • EXTREMELY popular—expect crowds

RELATED: 15 Best Hikes in Olympic National Park, Washington

Lake Crescent Camping + Lodging

If you’d like to spend more than just a few hours at Lake Crescent (as you should!), there are various options, including campsites, lodges, and resorts.

Klahowya Campground

Klahowya Campground is one of the lesser-known Lake Crescent camping options. This is likely because it is located about 10 minutes from the lake along the lovely Sol Duc River and Highway 101.

Sites are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Klahowya Campground is open seasonally from May through September.

Fairholme Campground

Fairholme Campground is a Lake Crescent favorite. Located on the western end of the lake off of Highway 101, the well-kept sites offer scenic views across the lake.

VW Bus at Fairholme campground near Lake Crescent.
Lake Crescent camping at Fairholme campground

But, not surprisingly, these first-come-first-served sites fill up extremely quickly. So, you’ll need to arrive at the campground plenty early if you hope to snag one of these sought-after spots. Fairholme Campground is open seasonally between May and September.

RELATED: Where to Stay in Olympic National Park, Washington

Lake Crescent Lodge

Those who prefer the ritz over the rugged will find a great home away from home at the Lake Crescent Lodge. Situated on the southern shores of Lake Crescent, the lodge offers top-notch accommodations with the charm of a bygone era.

Fireplace at Lake Crescent Lodge with warm lighting and antlers above fireplace.
Stay in style at Lake Crescent Lodge

You can book a room in the lodge itself or rent one of their on-site cabins. There is also a restaurant, a small gift shop, and boat rentals available at Lake Crescent Lodge.

Check Price

Log Cabin Resort

Lucy, our VW Bus parked outside of cute A frame cabins in Olympic National Park with mountains in the back.
A-frame chalets at Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent

The Log Cabin Resort is tucked away on the lake’s northern edge. You can rent a small log cabin, a room at the motel, or an A-frame chalet along the waterfront.

The resort also boasts boat launch facilities, kayak rentals, and an on-site restaurant.

Check Price

Snug Harbor Studio

On nearby Lake Sutherland, you’ll find this comfortable 60s-style studio. This is an ideal place to stay for anyone who wants to make the most of lake activities, as you’ll have direct access to the lakefront, the public boat launch, and a dock shared with just one neighbor.

Check Price

Emerald Valley Inn

Cute A frame cabins at Emerald Valley Inn in Lake Crescent.
Mini cabins at Emerald Valley Inn

This picturesque inn is located a short drive from Crescent Lake in Port Angeles. It offers a range of accommodation options, from two-bedroom suites to tent sites with views of the surrounding forest.

Check out the A-frame mini cabins for something in between – all you need is your sleeping bag.

Check Price

Vintage Port Angeles

If you want to experience more of the surrounding area, this 1940s home in Port Angeles will make a great base.

You’ll be within walking distance of downtown and a short drive from the shores of Lake Crescent. There’s a private garden, views of the mountains, and even a small orchard.

Check Price

👉 More Accommodation Near Lake Crescent

We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Lake Crescent! Don’t forget to check out other things to do in Olympic National Park.

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