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12/14/17 - Why Is Olympic Hot Springs Road Still Closed?

Like many, we've been wondering when Olympic Hot Springs Road is likely to reopen. We want to get back to the trails out of Whiskey Bend and to Olympic Hot Springs. We drove out to take a look and see how the river was flowing. We parked at Madison Falls and walked past the gate and followed the road over the temporary bridge. We could see that the road wasn't in great shape, but last time it was completely flooded. Now the waters had receded, so we pressed on.

We didn't get very far. Maybe a quarter mile past the temporary bridge there was a gap in the road and a branch of the Elwha river running through that gap. It wasn't just some little stream, but a full fledged torrent, maybe thirty feet wide. This wasn't something that could be easily stopped or bridged. The remainder of Olympic Hot Springs Road, including the ranger station, was cut off.

On our way back, we stopped to study one of the signs describing the temporary trail that the park service has blazed. It cuts inland near where the road gets its first view of the river. According to the sign, the trail runs inland and uphill and continues south past the east side of the campground. It appears to rejoin Olympic Hot Springs Road down near the ranger station and the junction with Whiskey Bend Road. In other words, it is possible to head further down the road on foot, but not otherwise, and this isn't likely to change very soon.


The road wasn't in great shape.

We could see a gap up ahead.

That's a new branch of the Elwha.

Some more road damage

Even more road damage

The river wild

More of the Elwha River

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, trails


11/24/17 - The Elwha River Flood Report

Olympic Hot Springs Road along the Elwha River has been flooded for a while now. The last time we dropped by, there was just a bit of water on the road. This time, the whole road was a river from shortly after the temporary bridge towards the campground. The side stream that flows through the old campground is now a river in its own right, and we have never seen so much rough water in the Elwha.

Olympic Hot Springs Road flooded

The river in full flow

Another look at the river

Water under the bridge

High water on both sides of the spit

Rough, roaring water

Some mist

Another view upstream

Wild water in the Elwha

View from near Madison Falls

A view downstream

Keywords: elwha


11/19/17 - Elwha River and Madison Falls

Olympic Hot Springs Road along the Elwha has been closed at Madison Falls again. This time because of flooding. We took a walk up along the road. Indeed, there was a stretch of it under water. We made the most of our wandering and got some nice views of the river. We also checked out Madison Falls. This has been a wet autumn.





Keywords: autumn, elwha, olympic hot springs


10/24/17 - Along the Elwha

Olympic Hot Springs Road was closed for a day or two due to weather related damage, so we got to walk along the roadway south from the Madison Falls parking lot. We had been taking this walk a lot while they were repairing the road, but once we could get the Whiskey Bend and the like, we zoomed right past this area to get to our trailhead. With the road closed, we revisited. (The road has since reopened.)

Did we mention fall color?

Twisted Halloween trees

More color

The Elwha

Another view of the Elwha

Misty mountains

One of our favorite views

A view upriver

More misty mountains across the river

Keywords: elwha, halloween, weather


10/20/17 - The Smokey Bottom or West Lake Mills Trail

We took a walk along what was once the west bank of Lake Mills, but now is just a trail following the Elwha River. We started at the old Glines Canyon dam overlook and headed south. We passed through young forest and then more open areas with nice views of the river. There were lots of late season lupines in bloom, a lot of them planted as part of the restoration effort.

It was a short hike. We're hoping it gets extended and linked up with other trails in the area. For now, it's a good way to watch the old Elwha River come back into its own.


View from the remains of the Glines Canyon Dam looking south

The eastern remains of the dam

Some mushrooms

Signs of fire

Young forest

A late season lupine

A view of the river

Formerly Lake Mills

Another view

Keywords: elwha, trails


06/09/17 - Elwha Trail Update

We were on the Elwha Trail again. The trilliums are almost gone, but the sedums are out as are the butterflies.

The first crossing

One of the butterflies

One of the sedums

The trail

And more of the trail

Keywords: elwha


04/22/17 - Elwha River Trail - Part 1

With Olympic Hot Springs Road open again, we've been heading up to Whiskey Bend and revisiting the Elwha River Trail. We've already made it to the overlook before the second canyon on the way to Lilian Camp and down past Michael's Ranch for a look at the Elwha River. The trails are still a bit muddy, but lots of people are about celebrating the area's reopening. We've been celebrating this year's crop of trilliums and are looking forward to a great hiking season.

A trillium

A view from the overlook

A tree down across the trail

Another trillium

Another bit of trail

One of the many streams

Yet another trillium

Those yellow violets

The trail is beautiful on a sunny day

Our first slug of the season

Mysterious alligator leaves

Keywords: elwha, spring, trails, trillium


04/21/17 - Elwha River Trail - Part 2

The last photo in Part 1 is of a mysterious alligator leaf, something we had never noticed before on this trail. On our second trip we solved the mystery. Those are columbine leaves. We have never seen columbines growing in this area before, so we were quite pleased. They've been added to the regional treasure trove along with the trilliums, orchids and yellow violets.

The Elwha River itself is well upstream of the dam, but each year we have seen more brush growing across the river bed. When we first started visiting, over a decade ago, there was some scrub, but now there are substantial bushes. Has the river changed? This part wasn't affected by the dam removal, so this is another mystery.


One of our favorite waterfalls

Another view

The trail

The river

Another view of the river

More of the trail

An orchid

Another orchid

A columbine - the mystery of the alligator leaves solved

Yet another columbine

Even more columbines

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall


04/20/17 - Elwha River Trail - Part 3

The Elwha River Trail out of Whiskey Bend is in pretty good shape, but on our way down to Michael's Ranch we were warned not to linger for a stretch. There were overhead hazards, presumably falling branches. This was the stretch with one of our favorite waterfalls, so we did stop briefly to admire it, but not for long.

This stretch of trail is also being rebuilt a bit. We chatted briefly with two of the trail workers rebuilding a stretch of boardwalk. They were hard at it. Presumably, their work is done, and we'll be spared a bit of mud on our next hike that way.


Warning, warning

Thank you, trail maintainers!

Another view of the boardwalk work

Some forest

A bonus trillium

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall


04/03/17 - Whiskey Bend Road is Open

We headed out to Madison Falls hoping for a little walk along the Elwha River. To our surprise, the gate on Olympic Hot Springs Road was open. To our further surprise, the bathroom at the ranger station is now both handicapped accessible and beautiful. To our even further surprise, Whiskey Bend Road was open. We made our way up the twisty one and a half lane road and took the Elwha River Trail for a ways. The last time we did this was a year and a half ago, and the trail was only open for a week.

The trail was as beautiful as ever, but we kept expecting to run into a ranger telling us that we had gotten in by mistake and would have to leave. We felt we had sneaked in. The trail is in great shape, though we only made it a bit past Michael's Cabin, heading up on the trail to Lilian Camp. The day was sunny; the greens were brilliant. We had glimpses of snow covered mountains. It was great to be back.

P.S. We're hoping the trail stays open, and that they open the road to Olympic Hot Springs soon. Meanwhile, the Spruce Railroad Trail is still closed, and the latest word on reopening is in July.


The Elwha River Trail

Wonderful light

Michael's Cabin

Much less green than we expected

Another bit of trail

A friendly fungus

A glimpse of the river

A glimpse of snow covered mountain

One of the streams

Yet another view of the trail

A waterfall on Whiskey Bend Road

Keywords: elwha, spring


03/28/17 - Skunk Cabbage, at Last

Spring has been coming slowly, but on our last walk along the Elwha River we saw our first skunk cabbage of the year. It's about a month late, but better late than never.

Spooky trees

Save this for Halloween

Skunk cabbage, at last

More skunk cabbage

Aren't you glad your browser doesn't support odors?

A side creek

The forest

More forest with spooky maples

Another view

The Elwha

The Elwha again

Keywords: elwha, spring


03/12/17 - Elk and the Elwha

With Olympic Hot Springs Road closed, a lot of trails have been unreachable, so we've taken to walking the closed road from the closure at Madison Falls. The river is still beautiful, and the high country still beckons. We hope the park service manages to reopen the road at some point.

There was a herd of elk by the road on our way to Madison Falls. There were quite a few of them. As we move into spring, then summer, they'll be heading up to the high country. For now, we'll take advantage of the photo op.


An elk farm

Some elk

More elk

A horse watches the elk suspiciously

Even more elk

The mountains

Off the Elwha

The Elwha River

Another view of the Elwha

An artsy view of the Elwha

Lately, our favorite view of the Elwha

Keywords: elwha, spring, trails


02/24/17 - Along the Elwha

We took advantage of the bright sunny day to take a walk along the Elwha River from the Madison Falls parking lot. The sun was brilliant, and the day was brisk. They've closed the road again thanks to fresh flood damage, so we walked what is now a familiar route. The river is as beautiful as ever.

As a bonus, there was a field of snowdrops not far from the parking lot, so we stopped and took some pictures of this early sign of spring.


The damaged road, in case you were wondering why it is closed again

The Elwha River

Another view with almost silvery trees

The mountains

Old maples, gnarled and mossy

Another view up the Elwha

Roiling waters

Misty mountains across the way

A view downstream

Snowdrops ...

... and more snowdrops

Keywords: elwha, spring


02/16/17 - Marymere Falls in February

It has been a wintry month, and we haven't been getting out as much as we'd like. If nothing else, the Spruce Railroad Trail and all of the Elwha Valley trails are closed for construction and the high country is covered with snow. We did get out to Marymere Falls. It was a short walk from the parking lot, less than an hour round trip, but it was a nice taste of northwestern forest for the season.

The falls

The misty mountain trail

Looking down at Barnes Creek

The trail with a new handrail (on the right)

Barnes Creek again

The side stream from the falls

Another view of Barnes Creek

Keywords: elwha, high country, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails


01/25/17 - Elwha Update

The Elwha River is running at full spate. Between the rains and recent thaw, there is lots of water under the bridge. We took a short walk to check out the flow.

The Elwha River

Madison Falls

Another Elwha view

Yet another view

Driftwood

This grows on the trees around here.

A winter scene on the Elwha

Keywords: elwha


01/22/17 - Marymere Falls and Barnes Creek

So many trails are closed this winter. Most of the Elwha River trails are closed while the flood damage is repaired, and the Spruce Railroad Trail is closed for the next step in its upgrade. The loop to Marymere Falls is one of the few trails still open, so we've been getting there fairly often. For a while, the trail was covered with snow. The Barnes Valley doesn't get a lot of sun this time of year, but the snows have melted, and the snow melt and recent rains have fed the river and the falls.

Marymere Falls, a healthy roar

The steps from the lower to the upper falls observation points, in National Park Modern

They've been rebuilding the bannisters along the trail

A view of Barnes Creek

The footbridge over Barnes Creek

Another view of Barnes Creek

The forest

Another view

and yet another

Keywords: elwha, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails, winter


01/01/17 - The Elwha in the Snow

We took a walk along the closed part of Olympic Hot Springs again. This time it had snowed, so the trees were frosted and the river almost black. We only walked out for a half an hour, but we're contemplating heading farther next time, perhaps to the bridge over the river near Altair. It has been a cold snowy winter, so we'll get out when we can.

Olympic Hot Springs Road

The frosted forest

More frost, more forest

The river

Another view of the river

Snow covered driftwood

The view upriver

Yet another view of the river ...

... and another view of the forest

Keywords: elwha, winter


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