In Olympic National Park, bridges serve many functions. They obviously help us cross rivers, keep out feet dry and get us from Point A to Point B, but they also do so much more. They act as gateways; serving as portals to wilderness and adventure over deep ravines and stunning box canyons. The bridges of Olympic National Park are as unique as the destinations they lead to, each with as much personality and beauty as the rivers themselves. Those of us who hike here often have our favorites and we all keep striving to find more and more of them, hoping to further being inspired to hike further and reach deeper into America’s favorite wilderness. For beginners and those visiting Olympic, the bridges act as catalysts, encouraging longer hikes and a deeper connection with the nature of the area.
Olympic has hundreds of bridges of all sizes and shapes, but there are ten we felt we had to highlight to get you stoked own your upcoming adventures to one of the most-loved regions in the nation. From crossing the glacial fed, blue waters of the Hoh River, to standing over a box canyon taking in the stunning scenes at Sol Duc Falls, the bridges on our list will get you, your significant other and your kids excited to explore every corner of the park. Take some time, read the descriptions, daydream over the images and fall deeper in love with this jewel of a park in the Pacific Northwest.
Location: At the Mount Storm King Ranger Station on Lake Crescent
Distance: 1.8 Miles Round Trip
Quite possibly one of Olympic National Park’s most popular bridges, the two bridges near Marymere Falls show the variety at which you can cross creeks and streams. The first bridge you’ll cross is the Barnes Creek Bridge, which is a metal atrocity, compared to the wooden beauty just a few hundred feet away. The Marymere Creek Bridge is majestic, beautiful and rustic, exactly the type of bridge you’d expect to find in the rugged terrain of Olympic National Park. Getting here is easy and family-friendly and capped off with a chance to see the always gorgeous Marymere Falls. Do this hike often, as it is one of the classic destinations in the National Park Service.
Location: At the end of the road past Sol Duc Campground
Distance: 1.6 Miles Round Trip
For the beauty and majesty of the Sol Duc River and falls, no view is as incredible as the one from the Sol Duc Falls Bridge in Olympic National Park. less than a mile from the trailhead, the bridge at Sol Duc Falls spans a deep box canyon, offering stunning views of both the waterfall and river. The bridge is a wide, wooden and rustic, though it can be a bit muddy and slick after heavy rains. Sol Duc might be the most iconic waterfall in Olympic National Park, and the view from the bridge makes it even more memorable. As you listen to the roar of the water and observe the rainbows from sunlight on the mist, Sol Duc Falls and the bridge will make you fall deeper in love with the Olympic Peninsula.
Trailhead Location: Near Log Cabin on the North Shore of Lake Crescent
Distance: 2.4 Miles Round Trip
Yet another iconic bridge in Olympic National Park, the Devil’s Punchbowl Bridge is located on the northern shores of Lake Crescent. Devils Punchbowl is just over a mile from the eastern trailhead of the Spruce Railroad Trail, an old railroad line now part of the Olympic Discovery Trail that was built to help bring out wood for WWI, but before the track was completed, the war ended. Now, the trail is well-maintained and offers some of the most stunning views of Lake Crescent you can image. The bridge spans the insanely deep Devils Punchbowl, letting hikers see the depths of Washington’s second deepest lake firsthand. In the summer, this is a popular swimming hole for locals.
Trailhead Location: Staircase
Distance: 2 Miles Round Trip
Located near Lake Cushman and the Hood Canal on the eastern flanks of the Olympic Mountains, the Staircase region is one of the fasted growing areas in Olympic National Park. Part of the reason for the increase in visitation is the recently new Staircase Loop Bridge, which spans the North Fork of the Skokomish River Bridge. This cable bridge replaced an older bridge the was washed downstream and is a beautiful sight along a stunningly gorgeous river. The views from the bridge are spectacular, as as the ones further on the boot paths al around the stairs to the bridge. Year round, this is great destination, but is best seen after heavy rain with some fog.
Trailhead Location: End of Graves Creek Road in the Quinault Region
Distance: 9 Miles Round Trip (2015 Road Washout added 4 miles)
Pony Bridge is a classic rainforest bridge, spanning a beautiful box canyon over the Quinault River. Popular in the summer with day hikers, this wooden bridge is one of our favorites and a destination we have enjoyed every season. The trail to get here is short enough, with minimal elevation gain. From the trailhead past the Graves Creek Campground, the trail crosses the Graves Creek bridge before working its way slightly uphill toward an old picnic table at the halfway mark. From here, it drops sharply through what feels like a small creek. Eventually, you once again hear the roar of the water and the wondrous bridge can be seen. The best vantage point of the bridge is a small boot path a few hundred feet after you cross the box canyon and river.
Trailhead Location: Elwha
Distance: 17.7 Miles Round Trip (2016 Road Washout added 10.6 Miles)
High up the Elwha River Valley, the Dodger Point Bridge is a breathtaking jewel in the region. Located on a trail full of iconic Olympic National Park sights (Goblins gate, Humes Ranch and Michael’s Cabin) the bridge is part of a truly a life changing wilderness adventure. Spanning the now dam-free Elwha River, the suspension bridge offers incredible views of the Elwha Valley downstream and a glimpse of the end of the Grand Canyon of the Elwha upstream. This bridge is amazing and will inspire you to further explore the wonders of the Elwha. Your best vantage point for pictures will be after you cross the bridge, following a shirt boot path downstream. From here, you can look upstream and enjoy the beauty of the region.
Trailhead Location: The end of the Dosewallips Road
Distance: 14 Miles Round Trip
Thanks to a washout, few day hikers make their way up the Dosewallips River. However, the who do are rewarded with pretty forests and a gorgeous bridge spanning the always pretty Dosewallips River. The hike here is easy, as it mostly follows an old road no longer in service and can be done in a day. Passing by Dosewallips Falls and the old Dosewallips Ranger Station and Campground, it is just a shirt hike through the lush woods before arriving at the rustic bridge. The views from the bridge are fantastic, as are the chances to explore the riverbanks on either side. Hiking here is a nice break from the rest of the park and with awesome places like the bridge along the trails, it is only a matter of time before the Dosewallips regains the love it once had.
Trailhead Location: Staircase
Distance: 11.2 Miles Round Trip
Far beyond the popular Staircase Loop Bridge, another wooden beauty spans the North Fork of the Skokomish River. This one isn’t flashy like its sister to the south; instead, it is a timeless bridge offing majestic views and fantastic lunch spots. With a box canyon upriver and a wide lazy stream downriver, exploring around this bridge will get you amazing pictures and the wilderness solitude you are craving. This bridge isn’t too far from the trailhead, but feels like you have traveled back in time to a land where nature and you can connect, free of distractions. The bridge serves as a portal to the true wild Skokomish backcountry and should be seen by all.
Trailhead Location: Hoh
Distance: 5.5 Miles Round Trip
Located deep in the Hoh Rainforest, surrounded by moss, ferns and elk, the extremely small Mineral Creek Bridge can hardly be called a bridge. Spanning juts four feet in length, this creek crossing is largely ignored by long distance hikers making their way to and from Mount Olympus. However, the bridge offers one of the more iconic picture locations in Olympic’s Hoh Region, and a chance to look upstream toward the always pretty Mineral Creek Falls. The path here is easy, gaining just 100 feet of elevation and makes for the ultimate getaway from the crowds along the Hall of Mosses Trail. Hike here, take some pictures and enjoy the short and sweet bridge with stunning views.
Trailhead Location: Hoh
Distance: 26 Miles Round Trip
Ok, so this is a long way to hike just to get to a bridge, but it is a classic. High above the glacial fed waters of the Hoh River, nearly to the source on Mount Olympus, the High Hoh Bridge is one of the backcountry favorites for mountaineers. This bridge marks the beginning of something incredible, serving as a boundary from the rainforest to the highest peak in the Olympic Mountains. Hiking here is more beautiful than the bridge itself, but this wooden structure spans high above the Hoh River, causing some who peer over to get vertigo with the heights. If you haven’t hiked up the Hoh to Mount Olympus, this is just one of the many highlights.
Discover a Hike a Week through our Olympic National Park Area Guidebook
Cover Image of Pony Bridge. Photo Credit: Douglas Scott of The Outdoor Society