Log Across the Elwha Trail

More Logs and Brush on the Elwha Trail


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02/10/06 - Winter Trails in Olympic National Park

We don't stop hiking in the national park just because it is winter. True, we need to snowshoe up in the high country, and a lot of the high country roads are closed, but there is still some beautiful hiking down below. Even the recent winds and rains haven't kept us from the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent or from the Elwha River trail from Whiskey Bend towards Lilian Camp.

There was a recent wind storm that caused a lot of damage, though it was much worse in Seattle and the Puget Sound area. We could even see this on the weather map, which showed the wind speeds in Port Angeles as about a half to two thirds of the wind speeds in areas not sheltered by the mountains. If you fly in a small plane, you will often feel the strong winds starting as you fly over Discovery Bay, and out of the shelter of the Olympics. Still, our internet service was down for most of a day, and the Whiskey Bend Road was closed while the Park Service cleared the fallen trees and brush. Whiskey Bend Road is an interesting drive under the best of circumstances. About a lane and half wide, hard packed, but unpaved, it twists and turns and climbs along the ridge to the east of Lake Mills.

There was a fair bit of freshly sawn timber by the roadside, but the road was quite passable in our Honda Civic. There were a few trees down along the trail, and a fair bit of water in the little side creeks, but the trail was open and the views of the Elwha River and the surrounding hills as gorgeous as ever.

As for the Spruce Railroad Trail, the much disputed roads in the area seem to be open, though there were a good number of downed trees along the roadside, and a bit of brush on the road. Lake Crescent is high, but the water has been going down lately during this drier spell, so it is just one short step over water to get on the Devil's Punchbowl bridge. Our special surprise waterfall has dried up, but a number of other channels that are usually dry are now full of running water.

In other words, the roads are opena nd the trails are open, so take advantage of the sunny days of February.

Keywords: winter, trails, elwha, high country, lake crescent, port angeles, seattle, spruce railroad, maps, surprise waterfall, kale, waterfall