Clamber up the rugged trails, tiptoe through the quiet old growth forest, or careen through the pristine meadows of Olympic National Forest & National Park. Shoulder your pack and experience the sights and sounds of the vast wilderness home to some of the most beautiful flora and fauna in the world. Ablaze with wildflowers in the spring, cool hidden swimming holes in the summer, a chance to see spawning salmon in the fall, and snow capped peaks in the winter, there is never an inopportune time to hike Hood Canal.
HOODSPORT AREA TRAILS
Easy walking trail between Hoodsport and Lake Cushman. Two newly replaced footbridges span Dow Creek, as the trail loops between them and ascends slightly for the longer loop. Trail meanders along slopes that straddle the creek. Picnic tables and restroom at parking lot. To note: trails were built by local 4-H members.
Length: .5 and 1.5 mile loop | Difficulty: easy | Topography: alder & conifer forest | No fee or pass required | Directions: from Hoodsport, follow Highway 119 for two miles to signed "Trailhead" on right.
Interpretive signs explain the replanting of the forest by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. This trail passes by the historic Hamma Hamma Cabin, built by the CCC, and starts in Hamma Hamma campground. Great for kids, first .25 mile is wheelchair friendly.
Length: 1.5 mile loop | Difficulty: easy to slightly moderate | Topography: Trail ascends bluff above Hamma Hamma River, then follows creek down and through forest, meeting river | No fee or pass required
Well maintained trail leads to a small lake with campsites. Expect company.
Length: 3 miles | Difficulty: Moderate climb | Topography: Forested hillside, some large second growth and mossy boulders | Directions: From Highway 101 at Hamma Hamma Recreation Area, take Forest Road #25 to “T” junction; go right 1 mile to trailhead | NW forest pass required to park at trailhead.
Very steep grade with unstable bed. Not recommended in wet weather.
Length: 7.3 miles | Difficulty: moderate to difficult | Topography: 3,800 foot gain to subalpine lake | Directions: Same as Lower Lena Lake | NW forest pass required to park, wilderness camping permit required for overnight use.
Mountain goats, eagles, wildflowers, and spectacular scenery in all directions. Snow often until July.
Length: 3.1 miles (from lower trailhead); 1.6 miles from upper trailhead | Difficulty: Solid climb; moderate to difficult in spots | Topography: evergreen forest becoming subalpine meadow; trail climbs to 360-degree view at 5,944-foot summit | Directions: From Hoodsport, take State Route 119 for 9 miles, turn right on FS #24 for 1.6 miles to FS# 2419, then 4.9 miles to the lower trailhead. Continue on #2419, then left on FS-014 Spur for 1.5 miles to end of road for upper trailhead | NW trail pass required at upper trailhead.
Looping trail reaching rushing creeks at the mid-point. Great pack-in picnic destination, with tiny wading pools and footbridges.
Length: 4 miles | Difficulty: easy to moderate | Topography: mixed conifer forest | Trail pass is required | Direction: Where Forest Road 24 and Highway 119 meet, head toward Staircase but turn immediately right into Big Creek Campground
This trail is in Mt. Skokomish Wilderness and travels through a quiet, old growth forest. From the ridge loop trail, fantastic views of Bear Gulch Valley, Mt. Ellinor, Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, and the distant Huckleberry drainage may be seen.
Length: 6.4 miles | Difficulty: moderately difficult to difficult | Topography: forested slopes | No fee or pass required | Directions: Take Highway 119 to “T” junction with Forest Road 24, and turn left toward Staircase. Mt. Rose Trailhead is about 3 miles ahead on your right.
A family friendly trail through large second growth beside the rapids of the North Fork Skokomish River. Mushrooms, hanging moss, and several swimming holes make for a delightful trip. A marked trail spur leads to a massive, fallen old-growth cedar.
Length: .9 miles | Difficulty: easy | Topography: tall conifer forest | Olympic National Park entrance fee required | Direction: From Hoodsport, take Highway 119 nine miles to “T” junction with Forest Road 24. Follow signs to Staircase, turning left and continuing with Lake Cushman on your left, all the way to Staircase entrance. Trailhead is signed just across main bridge from ranger station.
A small cave, a footbridge with views and a swimming hole below, plus a grove of towering Old Growth forest are all excellent perks of this trail. Return the way you came, or continue left on forest road to cross bridge at Lake Cushman, turning left again to loop back to Staircase---this will add another 1.4 level miles to your trek.
Length: 1 mile | Difficulty: easy | Topography: Level | Olympic National Park entrance fee required | Direction: Trailhead Across main bridge just beyond Staircase Ranger Station; bear left and follow river downstream instead of straight (Rapids Loop Trail) However, this adds only a half mile to your hike.
One of the steepest trails in Olympic National Park, with tight switchbacks to no switchbacks, the grade is brutal. Then once you stop climbing, you get to traverse a brushy avalanche chute.
Length: 2.9 miles | Difficulty: very difficult | Topography: Old growth trail | Olympic National Park entrance fee required, and wilderness camping permit required for overnight stays. | Directions: At Staircase, behind overflow/overnight parking lot adjacent to Staircase Ranger Station.
Backpacking trail leading into the heart of the Olympics, and connecting with several main trails throughout Olympic National Park. Designated campgrounds every few miles. Ascends to 4,688 feet at First Divide. Some creek fording and often large trees down over trail.
Length: 12.7 miles | Difficulty: moderate | Topography: follows river as it climbs steadily through Old Growth Forest | Olympic National Park entrance fee required, and wilderness camping permit required for overnight stays. | Directions: At Staircase, behind overflow/overnight parking lot adjacent to Staircase Ranger Station.
Spectacular views and campsites, make this one of the best hikes in all the Olympics! Old Growth cedar and fir. Mountain bicycle and horse accessible.
Length: 10.3 miles lower trail, upper 7.3 miles | Difficulty: light moderate | Topography: mostly old growth along river corridor | Trail pass required. | Directions: Two marked trailhead's just before and at LeBar Horse Camp. From Highway 101, take Skokomish Valley Road for 5.5 miles, then turn right on FS 23 for 9 miles, turn right on 2353 for .75 mile, cross the river and go left for .2 mile for the hiker biker access trailhead.
Loop around a beaver pond, great wildlife viewing area. Interpretive signs discuss the wetland ecology and its associated wildlife.
Length: 0.8 miles | Difficulty: easy | Topography: loops around a beaver pond and is a great wildlife viewing area | No fee or pass required . | Directions: located near the hand pump in Brown Creek Campground located in the South Fork Skokomish area.
Old growth forest and lush plants, popular camping spot, fishing allowed with license.
Length: 1.9 miles | Difficulty: easy | Topography: trail loops around lake through lush plants and old growth | No fee or pass required. | Directions: Starting at the Skokomish Valley Road and continuing for 5.5 miles to junction of FS#23, staying on FS#23 for 10 miles to junction of FS#23 and FS#2353, stay left on FS#23 for another 8 miles- past end of pavement. Look for lake on left, may not be signed.
Belfair / Allyn Area Trails
Tahuya State Forest is a 23,000-acre working forest with an extensive network of ORV trails that are also used by hikers, fishermen, bicycles, and hunters. Yearly serves 150,000 motorized recreationists. Lots of trails, but dominated by motorized vehicle users.
An easy hike that leads to wide beaches with plenty of sea life to explore. Excellent for swimming and sunning on hot days. Picnic tables and fire pits nearby.
Length: 1 mile | Difficulty: easy | Topography: forest, field and tidal beaches | No fee or pass required
Walk under lush, tall canopy of cedar and fir. Trail follows Twanoh Creek then ascends the gentle bluffs above. Enjoy wildflowers, moss beds and the soft murmur of the creek, then follow with a warm swim at the park beach on Hood Canal. Picnic heaven!
Length: 2.3 miles | Difficulty: easy | Topography: gentle rise | No fee or pass required. | Directions: On Route 106 between Union and Belfair | No fee or pass required.
A birder’s favorite, this wide, well-groomed trail passes through grassy marshland beside the shores of the Union River where it meets Hood Canal. Serene views, birds and wildlife greet the walker on this wheelchair-accessible trail.
Length: 3.5 miles roundtrip | Difficulty: easy Topography: Tidal estuary marsh, riparian zone, farm & forested wetland | No fee or pass required
Enjoy an easy, level and short trail that is very wide in spots. The trail follows park boundary, circling the campgrounds, with easy access to a narrow beach below eroded bluffs.
Length: 1 mile | Difficulty: easy | Topography: Mostly level forest trail with beach access for exploring | No fee or pass required
Shelton Area Trails
A popular exercise course for joggers and walkers, this wide, well maintained trail system has ample parking available, no restrooms or picnic area.
Length: 1.5 miles | Difficulty: easy | Topography: Flat forest trails under high canopy | No fee or pass required. | Direction: Parking lot across from Shelton High School on Shelton Springs Road. Sign greets walkers with trail diagrams.
The trail follows an extensive concrete fish ladder. In summer, wade among the miniature waterfalls created by the ladder. There is an educational kiosk, covered shelter, and railroad trestle spanning the creek.
Length: 1 mile | Difficulty: easy | Topography: Dirt trail | No fee or pass required. | Directions: Take Shelton-Matlock Exit from Highway 101, pull into Ford auto dealership visible from highway. Drive through dealership, looking for iron gate where power lines and septic system are also located. Park at gate and follow clearing toward Goldsborough Creek to your right. Woods are to your immediate left, look for trail opening just before bluffs above creek
Located northwest of Shelton in the Skokomish River Recreation Area. A full loop around the lake takes you through old growth forests, past waterfalls and through a marsh, and then back up above the lake for a few peek-a-boo views of the mountains.
Length: 2 miles | Difficulty: moderate | Topography: old growth forest | Directions: Travel US Highway 101 to the Skokomish Valley Road, (7 mi. north of Shelton, 7 mi. south of Hoodsport). Turn west on the Valley road and drive about 5.5 miles to the junction with FS Road #23. Turn right and proceed for 10 miles on FS Road #23 to the junction of FS Road #2353. Veer left and continue on FS Road #23 (end of pavement) another 8 miles to the Spider Lake Trailhead. This trail loops around Spider Lake through old growth forest.
Waterfall with wading pond reflections are visible from trailhead. Follow a wooded trail that runs above the falls and continues up a gentle ravine, then return on same route to parking area.
Length: .5 miles | Difficulty: easy | Topography: Dirt trail along creek | No fee or pass required. | Directions: Trailhead parking at end of Sixth Street, beyond Laurel. Falls are visible from street, more dramatic in wetter months.
Developed network of trails on both sides of road, a reclaimed farm. Easy to explore with lots of exposed fields to stay oriented.
Length: various 2.5 mile loops | Difficulty: easy | Topography: rolling meadow | Discover Pass required. | Directions: exit Highway 101 at Highway 3, go south on Golden Pheasant Rd, turn right Delight Park Road. Lake Isabella sign on right- parking, restroom, picnic table and trails.
Trail frames walker’s view of Kennedy Creek with platforms and bridges.
Length: .5 mile | Difficulty: easy | Topography: mostly flat | No fee or pass required. | Directions: Northbound, turn west on Old Olympic HWY just before milepost 357. Southbound turn west on Old Olympic HWY at milepost 356 (look for the brown “wildlife viewing area” sign) go 3/4 mile to the salmon trail entrance road. - Note Trail Open 10am-4pm Weekends Nov. 3 - Dec. 2
Riverside trail loops back along hillside away from river. Interpretive center, camping, picnic, swimming, fishing.
Length: 1 mile loop | Difficulty: easy to moderate | Topography: mixed forest along bluffs above the Satsop River. | No fee or pass required. | Directions: 12 miles north of Elma, on the East Fork of the Satsop River in Mason County. The park is also accessible via the Brady exit from U.S. Hwy. 12. Pick up trail at bend on West Schafer Park Road, before bridge over river.
Winding trails, wooden arch footbridge and under-utilized picnic, field and playground area (with covered cooking pavilion).
Length: several loops totaling 4 miles or more | Difficulty: easy | Topography: flat, semi-wetland & mixed forest | No fee or pass required. | Directions: From Matlock, take Matlock-Deckerville Road 2 miles to right turn at Ford Road. Drive .75 mile on Ford, park is on left.
The fall colors on Hood Canal are heralding the close of summer. Time to head to the hills to embrace the much needed rains in the Olympic National Park as the hills and valleys go back to the Technicolor spectrum of green.
With its wealth of shoreline, fresh and saltwater marshes, mudflats, and bountiful forests, the Olympic Peninsula is a birders’ paradise.
Itinerary #6: Waterfall Road Trip
Cascading waterfalls tucked into hidden nooks are simply and quintessentially Hood Canal. Sure, we love summer, but winter is truly a marvel in our corner of the world. We daresay we prefer it when it comes to admiring the majestic cascades tumbling from the woods.
An off-the-grid woodsy adventure—with the proper gear and safety precautions—makes for a truly memorable experience. Here are our recommendations for five must-have accessories to make your ONP adventure one for the books.
Even someone as determined as John Muir couldn’t have poked around every nook in the 876,447 acres of this boundless wilderness haven. Here are our 5 reasons why you can’t afford to miss it—especially if you’re a Seattleite.
Though there are many factors that come together to make a good photographer—gear, dedication, understanding of theory, etc.—the one elusive quality that boosts George Stenberg’s craft into the upper echelon is timing.
A weekend warrior is a 21st century beast whose population seems to be exponentially growing. As the “rolley chair blues” epidemic proliferates across the Pacific Northwest, so does the drive to combat it with an epic 48-hour adventure.
The roads are dry, gas is cheap, and it’s high time you and your crew kicked up some (proverbial) dust and planned a road trip.
Picture this: the full moon slowly rises over the placid Hood Canal, illuminating the rugged Olympic Mountains as you slowly exhale and relax into your tree pose.