On Saturday, February 20th, 2016, one of the classic regions of Olympic National Park finally reopened. Three months ago, a winter storm, combined with the now free roaming Elwha River combined and carved a new channel, wiping out a huge section of the road leading to some of the prettiest areas of Olympic. Today, Olympic Crews completed a temporary foot path into the Elwha Valley, restoring access to popular day hiking and backpacking destinations. This washout the closure impacted quite a few locals hoping for awesome winter adventures. While the new trail is great news, it is temporary and visitors are used to use caution.
“We urge people to use extra caution throughout the Elwha Valley. Flood damage exists in a number of areas, and conditions are muddy and can be slippery in many areas, including on the temporary trail.” – Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.
The new trail skirts away from the washout Elwha Campground and sticks to the east side of the river. At just under a mile in length, the trail is a reprieve for those who were missing the wilderness of the Elwha. The temporary trail is pet friendly, as are the roads and parking lots in Olympic National Park. Pets are still not allowed on any of the other the trails. The new trail, while temporary, is considered a National Park Trail. This means that while dogs are allowed for now, bicycles are forbidden on the temporary trail. You can still ride a bike on the roads, but you can’t bring a bike along the temporary trail, so don’t even try it. A call to Olympic National Park has confirmed this.
Vehicle access to the Elwha is anticipated to be reopened by the summer, but that could all change. Please continue to check with us on this, as road repairs in Olympic National Park are not as straight forward as many think. The campgrounds along the Elwha are also closed indefinitely, making the use of backcountry permits the only way you can camp in the Elwha River Valley and backcountry.
The Elwha Region is best know for classic day hikes such as the trail to Goblins Gate, Humes and Michaels Cabins, Olympic Hot Springs and the Grand Canyon of the Elwha. To see the highlights of the Elwha, please follow this link. The Elwha is also the route of the 1889-90 Press Expedition that crosses Low Divide and drops into the Quinault Rainforest. Speaking of the Quinault Rainforest, the Graves Creek Road is still washed out, as we discussed in a post last week.
For more hiking ideas and destinations, consider getting our Definitive Guide to Olympic National Park. No trip to the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest is complete without Doug Scott’s definitive guidebook on this diverse and beautiful region. With over 400 pages of content, this book will help anyone visiting the region plan the perfect trip, and let those living in the area know more about the place they call home.