Pyramid Mountain is a low-elevation peak located on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula, at the northern end of Olympic National Park. Every year, the mountain is seen by thousands of passers-by traveling along nearby Highway 101. The peak is located at the pivot-point of curved and massive Lake Crescent, giving its summit a great vantage point for the surrounding areas.
Looking East From Summit
Due to its expansive views, a cabin was constructed at the summit of the peak during 1942. The cabin is erroneously placed on fire lookout lists and maps, but fire-watching was not its intended purpose. The cabin was originally designated as a location from which to spot possible enemy aircraft during World War II. However, when the war ended three years later, the building was abandoned and decommissioned. Unlike many types of lookout buildings in Washington which were abandoned more than 50 years ago, the Pyramid Mountain lookout building is still standing. The external structural frame of the building is still intact, but the inside of the building is virtually empty. A ladder that used to lead to an upstairs loft has long since been removed, as well.
Approaching Pyramid Mountain Lookout Building...
Pyramid Mountain Lookout Building
Fortunately, Pyramid Mountain has its own namesake trail system (Pyramid Mountain Trail
) so people can see this small piece of regional history. The trail is used by many people each year, and is well constructed. The lower half of the trail is generally gentle-sloped and passes through thick forest. The upper half of the trail is generally steeper-sloped and passes through open evergreen forests.
Following Lower Section Of Pyramid Mountain Trail...
Unfortunately, the Pyramid Mountain Trail currently has a major structural problem in the middle of it. At approximately 1600' elevation, the trail traverses across a slope which was devastated by a recent landslide. The landslide was a major occurrence. Workers have made multiple attempts to construct a dirt "path" across this steep section the slope during recent years, but the reality is that the slope is, and will continue to be, eroding away.
Landslide Area Near Pyramid Mountain...
Zoomed Photo Of Landslide Area...
Currently, the dirt "path" crosses a section which has rocks on the side-slope and above, while steep dirt is below. But that dirt is really just covering more steep, possibly jagged rocks. Some people walk across this traverse, while others use their hands as a partial scramble. Sometimes the landslide section is too dangerous to cross, and is never recommended if wet or snow covered. Use good judgment and common sense.
USE CAUTION: A fall in this section could be fatal.
Pyramid Mountain was originally named Sugarloaf Mountain. The name was officially changed to Pyramid Mountain during 1928, as a reference to the pyramid-shaped appearance the peak has from eastern viewpoints. The summit has a topographical closed-contour; the elevation is at least 3100' and at most 3140', and could be any elevation between those.
STARTING FROM PORT ANGELES, WA:
1) Starting at the corner of Front Street and Lincoln Street (section of Highway 101), follow Highway 101 westbound.
2) After 27 miles, shortly after passing by the western end of Lake Crescent, turn right onto Camp David Junior Road.
3) Keep to the left at major intersections, heading towards the Spruce Railroad Trail.
4) After approximately three miles, find a small roadside parking/pullout area directly across the road from the Pyramid Mountain Trailhead. A small picnic area is located immediately down the slope adjacent to the pullout area. The trailhead is at approximately 680' elevation.
Pyramid Mountain Trailhead
Follow the Pyramid Mountain Trail. The first half of the trail, until the landslide traverse, is generally gentle-sloped. The second half of the trail, beginning soon after the landslide traverse, is generally steeper-sloped as it ascends towards the ridgetop.
STATISTICS: 3.5 miles one-way with over 2400' elevation gain.
No passes or permits are currently required at the trailhead. However, that can be changed at any time, so a "Northwest Forest Pass" (trailhead parking pass) is a good thing to have if needed.
The landslide section can be very dangerous and should be treated as such. Do not attempt to cross that section if the conditions appear to be unsuitable for a safe traverse.
When to Climb
Technically, this peak could be climbed throughout the year. Officially, the Olympic National Park requests that people only use Pyramid Mountain Trail during dry periods (because of the landslide traverse) from April through October.
People have been known to ascend the peak during Winter season. Because of the landslide traverse, a Winter ascent might be best attempted from the north side of the peak's western ridge, where an abandoned forest road leads up to the ridgetop near an upper section of the Pyramid Mountain Trail.
No camping is allowed on Pyramid Mountain.
However, plenty of camping is available throughout Olympic National Park.
I made a video showing the landslide traverse
during a trail descent of Pyramid Mountain during May 2013. We were able to walk across, but that has not always been possible for other hikers.