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Marymere Falls - Olympic National Park - Washington - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 Marymere Falls - Washington


October 23, 2000 Picture of the Week, Copyright 1999 - 2000, OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights ReservedLocated along the northern border of Olympic National Park, Crescent Lake is a marvel of glacier activity. Steep mountain ridges rise up almost 1,500 feet over the lake, while the bottom of its frigid depths sits 24 feet below sea level, making Crescent Lake incredibly deep. When one stands on the shores of Crescent and sees just how close the other shoreline is, it is hard to believe that at its center the water goes down for 624 feet.

Several lodges, cabins and cottages dot the lake, which is a popular spot for paddlers and power boaters alike. Drivers along the western shore of Crescent Lake on US Highway 101 are treated to an incredible view of this sparkling creation of nature. A number of turn offs allow you to stop and take in the scenic majesty of the park. On the opposite side of the road an endless array of small waterfalls cascade down the side of rock walls providing Crescent Lake with an endless supply of fresh water from the Olympic Mountains to the south. Barnes Point off of the highway is a perfect place to spend an afternoon day and enjoy a couple of short hikes.

The Moments In Time Natural Trail is a 1/2-mile loop that weaves its way through old homestead sites, along the banks of Crescent Lake, and through old-growth lowland forest. Massive cedars and Douglas firs tower overhead, some with diameters over 35 feet and rising up offer two hundred feet from the forest floor. The trail is well marked and surprisingly quiet and offers several places to sit and reflect on the incredible wonder of this part of the country.

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From the Moments in Time Natural Trail you can take a 1/3 of a mile connector to the Storm King Ranger Station Parking Lot. At Storm King there is an excellent modern bathroom, picnic facilities docks and a boat ramp. Visitors should be sure to go down on the docks to see just how clear the waters of Crescent Lake are and enjoy a spectacular view of Lizard Head Peak rising up over the lake.

From the Storm King Ranger Station you can take the one-mile trail to spectacular 90 feet Marymere Falls, pictured. The trail starts along the shores of Crescent Lake and passes through a tunnel under US Highway 101. For a brief period it heads west parallel to the road before turning south and into the old-growth forest.

Massive cedars and firs tower overhead. Along the banks of Barnes Creek huge sword ferns grow where the shade still protects them from the sun, but the cool water of the creek can feed them and keep them moist. As you reach Barnes Creek you will cross two foot bridges before starting the last 1/8 of a mile on the trail.

The last stretch of the trail poses hikers with a deceiving choice. After climbing a series of earthen steps the trail forks offering an "easier," climb to the falls versus a steeper and more direct route. Although your rugged spirit will cry out for you to take the steeper, harder trail, the easier route to Marymere offers the best view of the falls.

The steeper trail continues up swinging out in a semi-circle away from the falls. Following the route of steep stairs and switchbacks the trail ends at an observation deck about halfway up and to the side of Marymere. The cascade drops 90 feet into Barnes Creek before finding its way to Crescent Lake. The observation deck has several benches to sit at and you can feel the cool moisture coming off of the falls. A social trail can be taken to the dangerous and slippery top of the falls, which doesn't provide any noteworthy views.

The easier route follows a gentler uphill grade along Barnes Creek. Your reward comes at the lower observation area at the base of the falls. From here you are given a clearer view of Marymere framed between massive trees as it comes down directly in front of you with the spray of the falls drifting over the observation area. The lower and upper observation areas are connected by a series of very steep earthen steps. In the end if you climb to the upper observation deck the notion of this route being easier could be disputed. Of course if your ego won't allow you to take the easier trail, you could make a loop out of the two sections, hiding your shame of taking the easier path on your return.

Marymere Falls is only one tiny attraction in vast Olympic National Park. If you are visiting the metropolitan Seattle area and have a limited amount of free time, the ferry trip to the Olympic Peninsula coupled with the drive through the park can offer you a breathtaking experience. For more information you can contact Olympic National Park, 600 E. Park Ave, Port Angeles, Washington 98362-6798, (360) 452-4501.