Appleton Pass and Oyster Lake – 16.3mi / 26.2km
The climb up through the lovely forest takes you past hot springs and waterfalls to view-laden alpine meadows. The easy beginning to the hike follows an old, gravel road to Olympic Hot Springs (see Olympic Hot Springs for description). Continue on through the campground.
Beyond, the trail passes through massive trees and an ever-changing forest. Stay left at the junction with the Boulder Lake Trail where you’ll drop down and cross North Fork Boulder Creek (you may get your feet wet earlier in the spring). As you begin climbing on the other side, take both of the short, signed spur trails; first to the sublime Lower Boulder Creek Falls and then to the partially obscured, taller upper falls.
The trail continues climbing along the playful creek, crossing it numerous times. You spend more time in open meadows with views to rugged ridges high above. The trail makes its final approach to the pass as it switchbacks up the headwall through berry bushes and flowering meadows of heather near the pass. At the elevation sign for the pass, head east on the trail immediately behind the sign to go up to Oyster Lake and even better vantages. Views are obscured to the south, but glaciers on Mt. Carrie and Mt. Olympus can be spied through the trees.
For even more views, continue up along the ridge on the way trail. Pass the campsites until you reach the meadow near the last campsite for stunning views looking south before heading back down.
Trailhead: Turn onto the Olympic Hot Springs Road from Hwy 101, 9 miles west of Port Angeles. Follow the road 10 miles to trailhead at the end.
Elevation Gain: 3,400ft / 1,020m – Elevation Loss: 3,400ft / 1,020m