A National Forest Pass or Interagency Annual Pass is required to park at the Big Creek Campground. It’s the most popular starting point to climb up Mt. Ellinor.


A sign at the lower Mt. Ellinor Trailhead.


Other access points to Mt. Ellinor are the lower and upper trailheads. “If you want the glory of the Mt. Ellinor summit without the full distance, you can drive up to the lower or upper trailhead,” claims Mathias Eichler, race director for the Beast of Big Creek trail race. “You lose the easier forest trails and enjoy the trickier upper section of the trail.”



Heading down Mt. Ellinor Trail (Mathias Eichler)


There are two trail routes used for the Beast of Big Creek. A seven-mile forest loop with 2000ft of vert through lush, old-growth forest, ferns, and moss, with wooden bridges over small creeks. Plus, a longer 14-mile route with 5,000ft. Of vert to the summit of Mt. Ellinor.


The trails for the route up to Mt. Ellinor are the Big Creek Nature Trail and Big Creek Upper Loop Trail, that loop around the campground. In addition, the Mt. Ellinor Connector Trail and the Mt. Ellinor Trail are used to summit Mt. Ellinor and can be accessed from the upper and lower trailheads.


Start using the well-marked trails through the forest and head toward the summit of Ellinor. The trails follow streams and Big Creek through second-growth western red cedars, maples, huckleberries, moss, sword ferns, and other thick vegetation. Wildflowers include tiger lilies, Calypso orchids, and bear grass. Next, the trails turn more technical by climbing boulders over steep passes. The trail eventually rises beyond the tree line to enjoy one of the best views in the state of Washington. To the north is the whole Olympic Mountain panorama with the glaciers of Mt. Olympus in the distance. To the East and South is Puget Sound, and in the distance, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens.


One of the challenging sections of Mt. Ellinor trail. (Mathias Eichler)

If that’s not enough, try the Cushman 6, a 23-mile route with 12,000′ vert from Eichler that summits six mountain peaks in the Staircase area.
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