Kayaking Washington’s Lake Crescent – A Complete Guide

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Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is home to a hidden gem for kayaking enthusiasts – Lake Crescent. With its crystal clear, sparkling blue and turquoise waters, this picturesque freshwater lake stretches for almost 12 miles and boasts numerous coves and inlets to explore. Nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains, this enchanting destination offers an unforgettable kayaking experience for both beginners and experienced paddlers alike.

When embarking on a Lake Crescent kayaking adventure, you can expect breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the chance to encounter a variety of local flora and fauna. Thanks to its clear waters, keep an eye out for interesting underwater rock formations and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the lake’s elusive aquatic life. As you paddle along the serene waters, take time to appreciate the peaceful, natural soundscape and the majestic beauty of the Olympic Peninsula.

Ensure you come prepared for your kayaking adventure by researching the best launch points, rental options, and any necessary permits and regulations. Guided tours can also provide a more structured experience, allowing you to focus on enjoying the stunning surroundings while learning more about the area’s rich history and fascinating ecology. However you choose to explore Lake Crescent on a kayak, you’re sure to leave with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for this remarkable corner of Washington State.

Lake Crescent Overview

Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent is a stunning freshwater lake located within the Olympic National Park in Washington State. This crystal clear lake is a popular destination for kayakers, offering a unique and serene experience. Surrounded by the majestic Olympic Mountains, the lake spans almost 12 miles long, providing numerous coves and inlets to explore.

Natural Beauty

The beauty of Lake Crescent lies in its sparkling blue and turquoise waters, which invite adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. The surrounding lowland forests and creeks offer an abundance of hiking trails for those who want to venture out from the shoreline. The area around the lake is home to diverse flora and fauna, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The pristine water of Lake Crescent is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also offers a unique kayaking experience. Paddling through the tranquil waters, you can truly appreciate the natural beauty of the Olympic National Park. As you immerse yourself in this serene environment, make sure to take the time to explore the many hidden gems along the shoreline. And remember – always stay safe and leave no trace as you enjoy this remarkable lake.

Kayaking on Lake Crescent

Getting Started

Lake Crescent, nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains, is a prime destination for kayaking enthusiasts. The crystal-clear, sparkling blue and turquoise waters make this fresh-water lake a kayaker’s dream. Located about 18 miles west of Port Angeles, the lake is almost 12 miles long, offering many coves and inlets to explore.

Before embarking on your kayaking adventure, make sure to check the local weather forecast and the safety guidelines provided by Olympic National Park. Always wear a life jacket and be aware of any potential hazards, like submerged rocks or logs.

Kayak Rentals

For those who don’t own a kayak, rentals are available at a few different locations around the lake. You can rent kayaks from the Log Cabin Resort, as well

Activities and Accommodations

Hiking Trails

Lake Crescent, located on the Olympic Peninsula, offers numerous hiking options for all skill levels. Two popular trails in the area are the Marymere Falls trail and the Spruce Railroad Trail. Marymere Falls is a 1.8-mile round trip hike that leads to the breathtaking 90-foot waterfall, while the Spruce Railroad Trail is a 4-mile path that follows the lake’s north shore. For those looking to explore lesser-known trails, consider the Barnes Creek Trail or Bovee’s Meadow, both of which offer a more secluded hiking experience.

Lodging Options

There are several lodging options available for visitors to Lake Crescent. Lake Crescent Lodge is a historic resort that offers a variety of accommodations, including rooms in the main lodge, cabins, and cottages. The Log Cabin Resort is another option, providing rustic cabins, camping, and RV sites.

For travelers looking to explore other areas of the Olympic Peninsula, consider staying at the nearby Lake Quinault Lodge or Kalaloch Lodge, both of which offer coastal accommodations and access to additional outdoor activities.

While visiting Lake Crescent, be sure to enjoy some time on the water by renting a kayak or canoe at Fairholme’s General Store. This is also a great opportunity to fish for Beardslee trout, a species native to the lake. After an adventure-filled day, unwind by the shoreline at La Poel, a picturesque picnic area on the lake’s north shore.

The closest major airport to Lake Crescent is the SeaTac Airport in Seattle. From there, it is about a 3-hour drive to the lake and its surrounding attractions.

Lake Crescent Camping and Beaches

Lake Crescent is a picturesque destination for visitors who enjoy kayaking, camping, and relaxing on its beautiful beaches. In this section, we’ll introduce you to some of the recommended campgrounds and best beaches to enjoy during your visit.


Visitors to Lake Crescent have a few options for camping. One of the popular choices is the Fairholme Campground. This campground offers:

  • Tent sites and RV sites
  • Drinking water
  • Restrooms
  • Easy access to the beach
  • Nearby hiking trails

Another option is the Sol Duc Campground, also known as Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort Campground. This campground provides:

  • 82 tent sites and 17 RV sites
  • Drinking water
  • Picnic tables
  • Hiking trails
  • Restrooms and showers

For a more intimate camping experience, Twin Beach Campground is a smaller site close to the lake.

Best Beaches to Enjoy

Lake Crescent is home to numerous beaches where you can take a refreshing swim, enjoy a picnic, or simply bask in the sun. Some of the top beaches to check out are:

  • East Beach – East Beach is an excellent spot for swimming and sunbathing, with lovely views and ample space to relax and unwind.
  • Salt Creek – You’ll find picturesque Salt Creek just a short drive from Lake Crescent. This popular spot provides tidepool exploration opportunities and plenty of space to enjoy the sun and surf.
  • Elwha Beach – Located near the Elwha River, this beach offers visitors the chance to explore the estuary where the river meets the lake, as well as indulge in some excellent birdwatching.

Remember that Lake Crescent is particularly popular during the summer season and on holidays like Memorial Day, so plan accordingly to ensure the best experience.

Additional Information and Tips

Lake Facilities

Lake Crescent offers a variety of facilities to ensure a great kayaking experience. At the Lake Crescent Lodge, visitors can find a restaurant, bar, and even rowboat rentals. There are also boat launches available for those bringing their own kayaks or canoes. The lake features several picnic areas perfect for taking a break and enjoying the stunning views along the shoreline.

Visiting Tips

  • Parking: There are parking lots available near the lake, but they can fill up quickly during peak season. Arrive early to secure a spot.
  • Reservations: If you plan to rent equipment like rowboats or kayaks, it’s a good idea to make a reservation ahead of time through the front desk at Lake Crescent Lodge.
  • Hiking Trails: Consider combining your kayaking adventure with popular local hikes, such as the Hurricane Ridge, Lake Angeles Trail, or Lena Lake Hike.
  • Visiting from Seattle: Keep in mind that the drive from Seattle takes approximately 3–4 hours, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
  • Forum Guidelines: If you have questions or need advice, check out the Tripadvisor forum for Olympic National Park. Be sure to follow forum guidelines while seeking and providing information.
  • Leave No Trace: Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles while enjoying your time at Lake Crescent – dispose of waste properly, respect wildlife, and leave the natural environment as you found it.

Happy kayaking at Lake Crescent!