Olympic Hikes: Pumpkin Seed Lake

When we rebuilt Trailcooking from ground up this past year, I lost every trip report I had written from 2004 to current when we couldn’t transfer the older version of the blog. There are some hikes I truly loved that I never wrote about, including Pumpkin Seed Lake in the Olympic National Park, in Washington State. Pumpkin Seed is an awkward one to write about. When the road to Obstruction Point is open, it is a short dayhike not exactly recognized by the park, it is a boot path at best. It isn’t marked.

Let me say this: TREAD LIGHTLY. Go off season. Follow your feet. Look at Google map’s satellite view to see the trail. Mind where you step. And if the park has marked it that you are not supposed to walk there, you need to not walk there. I don’t know what the current rules are on this area so this hike is at your own risk……

We did the hike as an overnight back in early July the year we did it. The road to Obstruction Point from Hurricane Ridge was not opened up yet for the season (it was still firming up) but the snow was gone. We parked about halfway out on the road, at where the final gate was. The walk out was easy enough and went fast.

Ford (my oldest) was young then, and we went with Steve and Josh, who I backpacked with numerous times during those years.

The views on the road are nearly always spectacular, even in iffy weather. From high on the road you are nearly always above tree line and the views just don’t stop.

The bonus is the Olympic marmots were just coming out, and we saw many of them on the road hike. With no cars it felt like we were on an amazing wide trail with nonstop views.

Google Maps view in 3D view. The lake is in the lower right, the parking lot is in the upper left side. The Grand Pass ridge is running across, with the ridge out to Deer Park above it.

As we approached the parking lot at the end of the road (Obstruction Point) one needs to look for a trail off to the right (before the main trail that comes off the parking area). This may not be easily visible, and may well be brushed over by the NP. If you can’t see it, take the Grand Pass trail going uphill to look down.

Follow the boot path (it becomes very obvious as you walk away from the lot), and it gently rises and falls, going through tiny copses of trees to the lake. The mountains will be in your vision (unless it is socked in….).

We found the lake, and set up camp up high above, next to a copse of trees (Note: We had a cross country permit for this backpacking trip. I would think it is a no-go during on season).

Now then, with time to spare and dinner calling for us, we went adventuring. In another copse of trees up higher we encountered an old campsite with areas to sit, and a shale wall to deflect the near constant winds.

Nearby was an old dump hole, from when it was a hunting camp (before it became a National Park). Lots of antiquities were in the hole, from shoes to cans of baking powder. Apparently trash becomes “protected” once it passes 75 years? Hah.

Looking down to the lake and up towards the ridge that the trail to Grand Pass runs along.

Home for the night, on rocky surface (none of us had a flat night, I had Ford rolling onto me all night in my Rainbow Double)

As the sun settled.

Pumpkin Seed isn’t a deep lake, and I’d have to think it dries up a lot in low snow years.

I love when I find hearts in the wilderness.

The weather was shifting, so no sunset.

Early in the morning. The weather was shifting and the rain was starting. It was a pack it all in the tarp, bust outside and jam the tarp into the pack and get going kind of morning.

Pumpkin Seed lake in the morning, as the rain fell on us.

The hike out wasn’t hard but was wet the entire way, with huge gusting winds as we walked the unprotected road (see, there are times you get no views). And as expected we saw no one else that trip. Go off season and the world is quiet.



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