The good news just keeps coming out of Olympic National Park! One day into the summer of 2018, the park sent out a press release, notifying the public that the Spruce Railroad Trail was fully open! Now, you can walk the entire trail and enjoy the views and reconnect with the history of the region along the always stunning Lake Crescent.
In a press release sent out on June 22nd, 2018, Olympic National Park officials told The Outdoor Society that the full length of the Spruce Railroad Trail is now open, following the latest phase of improvements by Bruch & Bruch Construction of Port Angeles.
This was just the latest phase in a multi-year trail improvement project, focusing on bank stabilization, culvert installation, and trail improvements matching the one-mile section completed last year from the Lyre River Trailhead to the newly restored McFee Tunnel. Park officials told us that more work on the Spruce Railroad Trail will resume in October of 2018, taking place west of the Daley Rankin Tunnel. This work will hopefully complete the retaining wall work. During this time in the fall of 2018, hikers and bikers can expect the same one-mile closure of the trail on the western end.
“When this project is completed in 2019 there will be nearly ten miles of universally accessible trail along the beautiful north shore of Lake Crescent. I deeply appreciate our continued collaboration with Clallam County and the Federal Highway Administration.” ~ Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum
In the months and years to come, after the summer of 2018, work will continue in the area, paving the Lyre River Trailhead parking lot, restoring the Daley Rankin Tunnel, and finishing the remaining trail improvements. Paving the length of the trail will occur in the final phase.
The Spruce Railroad Trail improvements are part of a multi-year collaborative project to establish the entire 10-mile length of the trail as a universally accessible, multipurpose trail to be shared by hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and people traveling in wheelchairs. Clallam County and Olympic National Park are jointly funding the project.
Those hoping to hike the trail this summer should know that parking for the western end of the trail on Camp David Jr. Road will be located at the North Shore Picnic Area for this entire summer.
The Spruce Railroad Trail follows the historic railroad grade of the Spruce Railroad, built in 1918 and abandoned in 1951. When the project is completed in 2019 it will become a signature piece of the 134-mile long Olympic Discovery Trail that will eventually connect Port Townsend to La Push—Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.
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.
The trail is long, but flat, making it perfect for the family in nearly any weather. It is almost 8 miles round trip, but it is one of the few trails in any National Park that allows dogs and bikes. On the Spruce Railroad Trail, one can see many things, ranging from scenic views and railroad tunnels, to deep swimming holes and abandoned telegraph poles. One main highlight of the trail, aside from the gorgeous lake and trail tunnels, is Devil’s Punchbowl. During warm weather, Devil’s Punchbowl is the ideal 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.
Flat and easy to follow, the Spruce Railroad Trail is both bike and dog- friendly, something incredibly rare in Olympic National Park. With a great swimming hole a mile down from the parking lot, as well as a chance to look in old train tunnels blasted in the rock, this trail is fun for hikers of all ages and abilities. With impressive views of Mount Storm King, as well as a chance to see people in canoes, kayaks, SUPs and numerous other styles of boats, this leisurely walk along the shore is sure to be a favorite.
For current trail, road and travel information, visitors should consult the park website at www.nps.gov/olym or call the recorded Road and Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131.
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