There is a host of romantic notions about staying inside all winter, putting on fuzzy socks against the cold, and hibernating beneath a blanket. For some, rain grants permission for hours-long Netflix binges. But that’s not what we’re known for in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of letting a little rain stop us from getting after it, we choose adventures that are even better with a little atmosphere!
Now that the fear of forest fire has lessened, taking a break midway for a festive campfire makes any hike extra memorable. Enjoy having a popular trail all to yourself, and treat yourself for a job well done with dinner in town and a cozy cabin stay.
Lena Lake | 12pm
Lena Lake is a large gem nestled in the hills of the Olympic National Forest. This area was closed for much of the August because of an area forest fire. A wide and relatively accessible trail makes the journey to the lakeshore a family-friendly, but satisfyingly challenging day trip. From Highway 101, turn onto North Hamma Hamma Road/Forest Service Road 25 at milepost #318. Follow it for 7.5 miles to the trailhead, which offers plenty of parking alongside the road.
The 3.5 mile trail to the lake parallels and then crosses Lena Creek. Especially during the rainy season, the trail can be wet and slippery, so be sure you’re packing waterproof boots and other winter hiking essentials.
At the fork in the trail approximately three miles in, the trail to the right will take you directly to the lakeshore. If you’d prefer a brief scenic detour, a quarter-mile jaunt along the left path will provide you with an overlook that’s perfect for photo-ops or simply soaking in the view.
Campfire | 3pm
Nothing makes a hiking outing extra special like a crackling campfire to warm the hands and maybe even roast up a snack. With a set of homemade fire-starters, even damp wood won’t ruin your fun. Making them couldn’t be easier, either. Before you leave home, throw a dozen 100% cotton balls into a sealable plastic bag with a blob of Vaseline pure petroleum jelly. With the bag sealed, knead the Vaseline into the balls. When you’re ready to start your fire, pull one of the balls apart a bit to expose the dry fibers, apply a flame or spark, and you’re on your way.
The code of the wilderness is to Leave No Trace, so keep your fire small and practice good fire safety in addition to packing out all of your trash. Fire danger is generally very low in the Olympic Peninsula during winter and spring, but double-check that no burn bans are in effect.
Once you’re sufficiently warmed and pleasantly smoke-scented, pack up and retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Wash it down | 5pm
Even if you enjoyed a snack with your campfire, the hike back to your car and drive into civilization will have you craving a hearty meal. Hoodsport is the closest town, and offers a range of tempting options. Whether you choose fried chicken at Model T Pub & Eatery, fish and chips at Eagle Creek Saloon, or fajitas at El Puerto de Angeles, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re heading farther south, Union offers a few more options. We’ve said it before, but it’s hard to beat Robin Hood Village Resort for a satisfying dinner in a cozy, intimate setting. It’s the perfect transition from wooded wonderland to creature comforts. And speaking of creature comforts…
Soak the day away | 8pm
A campfire is a great way to warm the hands, but to really warm up after a wintery hiking adventure, nothing tops a hot tub. Ten of the cottages at Robin Hood Village Resort have their own private hot tubs. Whether you hiked all six miles of the Lena Lake loop, did an even more extensive adventure, or simply strolled around downtown, you deserve to treat yourself. Reserve your cottage now—or explore other great local lodging options.