Little River Falls, Little River Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Little River Falls - 5.5 miles
Little River Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.5 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,050' - 1,300'|
|Elevation Change:||+250' net elevation gain (+340' total round trip elevation gain)|
Little River Falls - 5.5 Miles Round-Trip
The Little River Trail follows South Branch Little River over 8 miles through lowland old-growth forests of the Elwha watershed to open alpine meadows on Hurricane Ridge. Those not up for such a long trip will enjoy a series of cascades along the lower portion of the trail, the first of which is Little River Falls.
The trail drops from Little River Road to a wide bridge over the river (.15 miles : 945'). It rises away in a mostly second-growth forest and undulates to the Olympic National Park boundary (1.4 miles), past which fir and cedar grow markedly larger.
Steep granite walls flank the trail, where you'll see signs of old mining efforts (1.7 miles : 1,065’).
It drops back across the river to a nice campsite near the confluence of Cowen Creek (2.0 miles), and follows the bank up to Little River Falls (2.75 miles : 1,300'), located a few steps off trail. This is the first of several major cascades before the bridge crossing at 3.5 miles, past which travel steepens away from the river.
Exercise caution when exploring the falls, especially during peak runoff.
- N48 03.435 W123 30.078 — 0.0 miles: Little River Trailhead - 1,050'
- N48 03.411 W123 30.118 — 0.3 miles: Bear left at split to remain on LR Trail - 1,030'
- N48 03.216 W123 30.330 — 0.5 miles: Level trail through lowland forest - 1,025'
- N48 02.848 W123 30.138 — 1.0 miles: Undulating trail through lowland forest - 1,030'
- N48 02.575 W123 30.113 — 1.4 miles: Enter Olympic National Park - 1,045'
- N48 02.377 W123 30.103 — 1.7 miles: Old mine sites off trail - 1,065'
- N48 02.207 W123 29.961 — 2.0 miles: Huge down fir tree - Cross river - 1,165'
- N48 01.861 W123 29.594 — 2.75 miles: Little River Falls - 1,300'
- The Little River Trail begins on state land and enters Olympic National Park after 1.4 miles. Dogs are not permitted beyond this point.
- The trail can be an easier one-way trek by leaving a shuttle car at Hurricane Ridge or the Little River Trailhead.
Camping and Backpacking Information
There are several great places to backcountry camp along the Little River Trail. If camping within Olympic National Park boundaries, specific rules apply:
Backcountry Camping in Olympic National Park
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- There's a $5 registration fee per group, + $2 per person per night (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time.
- Camp only in established sites.
- Food Storage: Bear canisters are required in specified locations. Where not required they're strongly recommended.
- Fires are not permitted above 3,500'.
Fishing is permitted with a valid WA state fishing license. Always check with the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park for local and seasonal regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- A NW Forest pass is required to park at the Little River Trailhead. Olympic NP and NPS rules apply beyond the 1.4 mile boundary.
- No dogs, weapons or bikes allowed on the Little River Trail within park boundaries.
- Backcountry camping requires a valid permit.
- No open fires above 3000'.
Directions to Trailhead
From Port Angeles, drive west on Highway 101 for 7.5 miles to the Elwha Valley - Olympic National Park turnoff. Turn left onto Olympic Hot Springs Road and then turn left quickly again onto Little River Road.
Drive 3.4 miles and turn right to remain on Little River Road. Continue .25 miles to the Little River Trailhead (parking on left side of road - trailhead on right side of road).
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office