Lake Constance is a incredibly tough trail! Myself along with five friends planned to backpack up this badboy trail in the middle of August. Thank goodness the weather was perfect, 70’s and partly cloudy. This trail is not for the faint at heart! I can’t repeat this enough. If you love an adventure with constant leg burning this is perfect for you. Hikers can conquer this trail as a day hike. Preferably an overnighter which allows one to enjoy and explore the incredible crags above the lake.

The trailhead starts at an old huge washout. The washout took out the old Dosewallips road. This old road leads to Elkhorn Campground (about 1 mile) and all the way to Dosewallips Campground (5.5 miles). After passing the washout, the trail (old road) continues about a mile to Elkhorn Campground which is seated riverside. Elkhorn makes for a great base camp if one’s hiking trip started late evening. Elkhorn is also great for young kids to get experience backpacking as it’s only 2 miles round trip. Past Elkhorn the trail gains a little elevation. After 2.5 miles of hiking the trailhead for Lake Constance is seen on the right side of the dosewallips trail. Hikers will pass a two year old burn and cross a bridge just before the trail sign is apparent. A this point you’ve hiked 3.5 miles and gained about 1,ooo feet of elevation.

The Lake Constance trail (2 miles) starts straight up right off the bat climbing through part of the burn. The trail is full of rocks, roots and some loose soil at the start. The easiest part of the trial is in the middle where it’s heavily treed with Constance creek flowing close by where one can refresh with no bearing sun and a cool head dunk in the creek.  The last half mile resorts back to the start: quick elevation gains, rocks, roots and a little hand over hand scrambling. There is a couple spots of steep drop offs on either side of the trail. Once reaching the top you can now say you’ve conquered 3,264 feet of elevation in only 2  miles.

Lake Constance is deep and provides life to many brook trout. I made the mistake of not packing my fishing rod, but next time there will be a fish fry for dinner. The avalanche canyon starts just behind the lake. Hiking up the canyon brings amazing views of Mt Constance’s and Lower Constance’s crags. Watch for falling rocks as nightfall brought roaring sounds of falling boulders in the silence.

This trail has low traffic but is worth every drip of sweat. It has to be on your “to do” list, accomplished at least once. Make sure to spend the night and explore the avalanche canyon, there’s nothing like it.

Directions from Olympia area:  I-5 get on hwy 101 and travel north to Brinnon. Once in Brinnon take a left on Dosewallips Road, forest road 2610, and follow all the way to the end where the washout will easily be seen.

Tacoma area: Take hwy 16 all the way to Hwy 3 where you will stay north on Hwy 3. Next take a left onto hwy 104 going west. Once you hit hwy 101 go south. Once in Brinnon take a left on Dosewallips Road, forest road 2610, and follow all the way to the end where the washout will easily be seen.

Seattle area: Take ferry to Bainbridge Island and get on hwy 305 north. Connect to hwy 3 north. Next take a left onto hwy 104 going west. Once you hit hwy 101 go south. Once in Brinnon take a left on Dosewallips Road, forest road 2610, and follow all the way to the end where the washout will easily be seen.

Season: Summer and Fall

Length round trip: 11 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Very Difficult. Very steep, many roots, some scrambling up roots and rock

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 700 ft – 4800 ft, 4100 ft total gain

Highest point: 4800ft

Features: Forest, rivers, lake, mountain vistas, scrambling, climbing, wildlife viewing, wildflowers, avalanche canyon

Wildlife:  Deer, Bears

Trailhead amenities: Log Book, No parking lot only parking alongside of road

Campsite Amenities: Bear Wire, Composting Toilet, 6 campsites,

Water Source: lake, river, and streams

Passes/Permits: Wilderness camping permit required (May- Sept) for overnights, Contact the WIC at (360) 565-3100, permits cost 5$ and 2$/person/night if older than 16

Special Information: Camping is limited between May 1 and September 30, Reservations Required, No campfires above 3,500 feet, call (360) 565-3131 for the latest road conditions.

Usage: Hikers, backpackers

Agency: Olympic National Park

Map: Gray Wolf-Dosewallips Washington Custom Correct Map

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