At an official maximum depth of 624 feet, also the maximum depth of the depth sounder used to find that depth (see depth section), it is officially the second deepest lake in Washington. Unofficial depth measurements of more than 1,000 feet have been recorded.
Lake Crescent is known for its brilliant blue waters and exceptional clarity, caused by a lack of nitrogen in the water which inhibits the growth of algae. It is located in a popular recreational area which is home to a number of trails, including the Spruce Railroad Trail, Pyramid Mountain trail, and the Barnes Creek trail to Marymere Falls. The Spruce Railroad Trail follows the grade of what was once the tracks of a logging railroad along the shores of the lake. Following this trail on the north side of the lake, one can find the entrance to an old railroad tunnel as well as "Devils Punch Bowl", a popular swimming and diving area.
Lake Origin Edit
The lake was formed when glaciers carved out deep valleys during the last Ice Age. Initially, the Lake Crescent valley drained into the Indian Creek valley and then into Elwha River. Anadromous fish such as steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout migrated into the valley from lower waters.
Approximately 8,000 years ago, a great landslide from one of the Olympic Mountains dammed Indian Creek and the deep valley filled with water. Many geologists believe that Lake Crescent and nearby Lake Sutherland formed at the same time, but became separated by the landslide. The results of the landslide are easily visible from the summit of Pyramid Mountain. Eventually, the water found an alternative route out of the valley, spilling into the Lyre River, over the Lyre River Falls, and out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Native American Origin Story Edit
According to the native people’s oral history, Mount Storm King was formed because of a battle between the Klallam and Quileute tribes. Thousands of years before Europeans settled the region, the Klallam and Quileute tribes were fighting at the foot of Mount Storm King. Mount Storm King, also a mountain king of the area, got angry at the fighting and threw a giant boulder at the tribesmen. The rock, large enough to block the river and form the modern version of Lake Crescent, killed all the warriors. For years, the locals avoided the region, fearful they would meet the same feat as their ancestors.
Lake Name & Development Edit
It is not certain whether the lake was named for its crescent shape or for its proximity to Crescent Bay, which was named by Henry Kellett in 1846. In 1849 two British–Canadian fur trappers, John Sutherland and John Everett, forged inland from Crescent Bay. The two lakes they found became known as Lake Sutherland and Everett Lake. Later, Everett Lake was renamed Lake Crescent. It has also been known as Big Lake and Elk Lake.
In 1890, while the Port Crescent Improvement Company was promoting its townsite near the lake, M.J. Carrigan started the Port Crescent Leader to help boost the town. He wrote of the beautiful lake, which he called Lake Crescent, and the name soon became well established. The town never achieved success.
The Spruce Railroad Trail, which was built as a working railway during World War I, was going to be used to transport Spruce trees to Port Angeles to build airplanes during the war. However, before the railway was completed, the war ended and the forest was not harvested. Today the old railroad trail is long, but flat, making it perfect for the family in nearly any weather. It is almost 8 miles round trip, and is one of the few trails in any National Park that allows dogs and bikes.
In the early 1960s, the U.S. Navy did a survey of the lake using a Furuno depth sounder. They were not able to verify the maximum depth on their equipment. During a 1970 depth survey conducted by the students of the fisheries program at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, students used instruments that could not record measurements beyond a depth of 624 feet, which thus became the "official" depth of the lake as recorded by the National Park Service. However, when power cable was being laid in the lake, instruments showed depths in excess of 1000 feet, the maximum range of the equipment used. The actual maximum depth of Lake Crescent remains unknown.
Devil's Punchbowl Edit
Devil’s Punchbowl is known as a favorite swimming hole. At nearly 100 feet deep next to the cliff, it is a relatively safe place for swimmers and divers to jump for joy into an alpine lake.