|Trail Highlights:||Waterfall; creekside views; old-growth forest; autumn foliage
|Round-trip Distance:||1.80 miles / 2.90 km (Marymere Falls)
6.40 miles / 10.30 km (Marymere Falls and Barnes Creek)
13.40 miles / 21.60 km (Marymere Falls, Barnes Creek, and Aurora Divide)
|Location:||Olympic National Park, Olympic Peninsula - North
Ancestral lands of the Klallam and Quileute
|Directions:||On U.S. Route 101 between Forks and Port Angeles, Washingtion, turn left from eastbound/right from westbound between Mileposts 227 and 228 where indicated by signage for Mount Storm King Ranger Station, Lake Crescent Lodge, NatureBridge, and Marymere Falls
Proceed 0.10 miles/0.16 km to intersection
Turn right and proceed to parking lot
Follow signage to trailhead
The trail can also be accessed from various points on the grounds of Lake Crescent Lodge where indicated by signage
|Required Pass:||National park pass or equivalent for U.S. National Park Service sites
|Additional Trail Info:||Washington Trails Association (Marymere Falls)
Washington Trails Association (Barnes Creek)
Marymere Falls is the highlight of the trail, quietly plunging approximately 119 feet/36.30 meters into a shady forest amphitheatre. Marymere Falls Nature Trail, May 20, 2017.
The Marymere Falls Nature Trail, Barnes Creek Trail, and Aurora Divide Trail are part of the vast network of trails that ranges throughout the Olympic National Park backcountry. From the official trailhead at the historic Storm King Ranger Station (and others farther west around Lake Crescent Lodge), the Marymere Falls Nature Trail and Barnes Creek Trail generally track Barnes Creek, alternating between draping deciduous creekside forest and dim conifer woodlands higher up the undulating mountainsides. The Aurora Divide Trail then climbs to a junction with yet other trails atop Aurora Ridge. Scarcely a view opens amid the lush canopy of mixed forest arching into the narrow valleys and mossy folds. Hike these trails for the lonely forest solitude — few others venture beyond Marymere Falls.
The Marymere Falls Nature Trail is flat until it reaches its junction with the Barnes Creek Trail, marked by a small sign about 0.50 miles/0.80 km from the trailhead. There, the Marymere Falls Nature Trail turns right, crosses two footbridges, and then climbs and descends the short, 0.80-mile/1.30-km Falls Loop steeply in either direction. The loop provides two vantage points for viewing Falls Creek slipping over Marymere Falls just before it joins Barnes Creek. A popular destination, the loop trail can be busy with hikers throughout the day; however, in early morning and evening, one may still enjoy the falls in complete tranquility.
From the Marymere Falls Nature Trail, the Barnes Creek Trail continues along the creek a short distance before dropping down to a log bridge and continuing on the other side of the creek. (The sharp, rightward turn down to the bridge can be easy to miss, as a spur trail continues straight along the left side of the creek before dead-ending at a large, creekside boulder a short distance later. Taken intentionally, the spur trail is a pleasant option for those who wish only a brief amble along the creek before returning.) Beyond the log bridge, the Barnes Creek Trail’s rolling incline is gentle, but persistent. About 2.50 miles/4.00 km from the trailhead, the Barnes Creek Trail leaves the chattering waters behind and angles upward into quiet, evergreen woodland.
Approximately 3.20 miles/5.00 km from the trailhead, the Barnes Creek Trail reaches another trail junction. There, the little maintained Upper Barnes Creek Trail forks left and continues along Barnes Creek, while the Aurora Divide Trail forks right and switchbacks, sometimes steeply, another 3.50 miles/5.60 km to Aurora Ridge, where it joins additional trails approximately 6.70 miles/10.80 km from the trailhead. (The ridgetop trail junction sign indicates that it is “7.5 ML” from Lake Crescent. The discrepancy in the stated distance may result from the various possible starting points along the lakeshore between the Storm King Ranger Station and Lake Crescent Lodge.) Beyond the Aurora Divide Trail, the backwoods trails along the ridge are quite lengthy and, given their spotty maintenance, may require some route-finding skills. This page profiles the Marymere Falls Nature Trail, Barnes Creek Trail, and Aurora Divide Trail to the top of Aurora Ridge; however, the distance can be shortened or increased by varying where one chooses to turn back or connect to another trail.
Although linked to other paths on the grounds of Lake Crescent Lodge, the trail officially begins at the trailhead for the Marymere Falls Nature Trail at the Storm King Ranger Station, where a quaint stone tunnel leads beneath Highway 101. Marymere Falls Nature Trail, May 17, 2014.
Stately woodland colonnades line the nature trail throughout.
Marymere Falls Nature Trail, May 17, 2014.
The nature trail never strays far from sight or sound of Barnes Creek rushing to join Lake Crescent just beyond. Marymere Falls Nature Trail, May 20, 2017.
Along the way, keep an eye out for a tree’s delicate skirt of roots laced in the form of a long-gone stump from which it sprang. Marymere Falls Nature Trail, May 17, 2014.
In autumn, maples festoon the wayside wood with gold. The smaller leaved maples meandering through the forest middlestory, as shown here, are vine maples (Acer circinatum), whereas their much larger leaved and equally brilliant cousins towering above are bigleaf maples (A. macrophyllum). Marymere Falls Nature Trail, October 22, 2017.
At approximately 0.70 miles/1.10 km from the trailhead, the nature trail reaches its junction with the Barnes Creek Trail, which forks left and continues up Barnes Creek. To the right, the nature trail leads a short distance to Marymere Falls, where Falls Creek slips near vertically from its clifftop spout, gracefully splitting into lateral cascades at it spills down the rock face.
Marymere Falls Nature Trail, May 20, 2017.
In spring and summer, diminutive blooms brighten the shadowy trailsides here and there, including, upper row, left to right, plumed false Solomon’s seals (Maianthemum racemosum), Smith’s fairy-bells, or, fairy lanterns (Prosartes smithii), and various violets (Viola sp.); center row, left to right, western fairy slipper orchids (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis), Pacific trilliums (Trillium ovatum), and Pacific bleeding hearts (Dicentra formosa); and lower row, left to right, common, true, water, or marsh forget-me-nots (Myosotis scorpioides), American twinflowers (Linnaea borealis), and western bunchberries (Cornus unalaschkensis).
Marymere Falls Nature Trail and Barnes Creek Trail, May 17, 2014 and June 18, 2016.
The Barnes Creek Trail continues from where the Marymere Falls Nature Trail turns toward the falls. However, in a short distance, it may appear to end abruptly at a large, tree-topped stone resting mid-creek. This is actually a short spur trail that departs deceptively from the Barnes Creek Trail. Those reaching this point likely missed the main trail’s sharp turn as it dropped down to cross the log bridge that spans the creek and continue along the southwest side. Not to worry — the bridge itself is only visible after having passed it and glancing backward from the spur trail. To hikers not wishing to go far or to traverse narrow log bridges, the spur trail provides a suitably condensed version of the main trail to justify turning back without guilt. Barnes Creek Trail, May 17, 2014 and June 18, 2016.
Beyond the log bridge, the trail’s next 2.00 miles/3.20 km track Barnes Creek upstream, never venturing far from its sheeted rush. Here and there, the trail climbs to bird’s-eye views of Barnes Creek, where mossy arms arch aloft its deeply riven valley. Barnes Creek Trail, May 17, 2014.
Three more quaint, yet sturdy log bridges carry the trail across tributaries dashing down the valley wall to join Barnes Creek. Barnes Creek Trail, May 17, 2014.
A variety of curiously formed fungi adds interest to the woodland wayside throughout the seasons, including mushrooms, coral fungi, and wood conks, also known as shelf fungi and bracket fungi. Barnes Creek Trail and Aurora Divide Trail, May 17, 2014, September 14, 2015, and June 18, 2016.
The trail generally continues climbing through dense evergreen forest until its junction at 3.20 miles/5.00 km with the less maintained Upper Barnes Creek Trail, which continues on to the creek’s headwaters, and the Aurora Divide Trail, which ascends Aurora Ridge and connects to the Aurora Ridge and Happy Lake Ridge trails. Barnes Creek Trail, September 14, 2015.
The Aurora Divide Trail climbs steeply at first along an unnamed brook, before flattening in a series of long switchbacks. Aurora Divide Trail, September 14, 2015.
Occasional windows in the forest open northward to ragged views of Mount Storm King‘s ridge.
Aurora Divide Trail, September 14, 2015.
Where the Aurora Divide Trail reaches its junction with other trails atop Aurora Ridge, a signpost points the way to several backcountry features beyond. Aurora Divide Trail, September 14, 2015.