Outbound Collective logo

You Can't Take a Bad Photo from the Summit of Mount Ellinor

Being numb and happy .

By: Garrett Schmidt + Save to a List

I think in my month of being in Washington I have spent every day off of work in the mountains. Growing up in Florida has really made me want to take advantage of every opportunity I have to climb things. I read about Mount Ellinor on The Outbounds's adventure page and I decided to go for this hike. This summit was my biggest climb thus far, and boy was it worth it. 

My roommate and I wanted to catch the sunset yesterday on top of the peak of Ellinor. We left Tacoma around noon which had us arriving at the upper trailhead around 2p.m. Now we have to make it up this mountain in two and half hours to catch the last little bit of golden sky and not freeze to death. 

The upper trailhead starts out pretty easy. Don't get me wrong it isn't a flat trail for the majority of this trek, but we had no idea what we were really in for from the parking lot. 

For about 3/4 of a mile it's dense forests with good traction for the shoes, very peaceful, and you get into a few switchbacks. Once you start hitting the snow the trail really starts to pick up elevation. (Now this is November so I am sure the snow is lower on the mountain right now more than the warmer part of the year. 

About the 1 mile mark you really start to burn in the thighs. The next half a mile is mainly rock steps and slick ice. Tip for anyone doing this for the first time this part of the year, bring some sort of crampons. We busted our butts a few times on the way down because of this. I am still new to this whole snow and ice thing, but mother nature had a way of teaching us a lesson gracefully. It took us about two hours to make the trip up to the top. Make sure you pace yourself because this is a glute-buster,  you will want to stay hydrated, and keep food in your belly. 

Along the way up there are a few nice spots to look out and snap some great photos of the lakes below, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. Take your time to get some photos but do not waste much time here. It looks better and better all the way up but keep pushing and wait for the summit. 

Once you reach the top the views are incredible. Almost unbelievable for me to understand that kind of beauty. Really use up your memory card here. Don't try to save any space. You do not want to waste your effort, or wish you took more pictures. 

The sun will be hitting the mountains in the distance and casting golden rays on the peaks. You cannot take a bad picture up here. 

In this time of year don't forget your gloves or a really good rain/wind jacket. Holding your camera or tripod without gloves can be pretty painful; we found that out too. Don't be fooled by the nice weather at the bottom. There is no mercy at the top!

When you are finished and make it down to Hoodsport, stop at the little pub on the corner before you get back on 101. They have a good fish and chips and a good beer selection (you deserve it).

Gear list: Backpack, Camera (I use Fuji x-Series), tripod, water, Clif bars, tripod, ND filters, extra memory cards, batteries, waterproof shoes/shell, thermals, crampons, trekking poles, gloves, headlamp, and be sure to pack warm enough to spend a lot of time watching the sun go down!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


7 Photos from Fly Fishing the Olympic Peninsula

Marc Fryt

Hunger Games on the Trail to Olympic NP's Upper Royal Basin

Simanta Mahanta

10 Photos to Inspire You to Explore Olympic National Park

Nate Luebbe

Dispatches from the Field: 7 Images of Olympic National Park


Test Your Skills on a Sunset Hike to Olympic NP's Mt. Storm King

Garrett Schmidt