Dosewallips State Park Loop — Hike back in time through a quiet forest

Quick Facts:

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 3.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 550 feet

Contact: Dosewallips State Park 

Green Trails Map: Olympic Mountains East 168SX

Detailed Information: Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula (Mountaineers Books)

Notes: Discover Pass required; Dog must be leashed

Recommended Resource: Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 

Access: From Quilcene drive US 101 south for 12 miles to state park entrance at milepost 307. Turn right (west) into camping entrance and proceed .3 mile to parking near ranger station.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, kid-friendly, historic, snow-free winter hike, practice Leave No Trace Principles

 

Well-known for family-friendly camping and great shell fishing on Hood Canal, unbeknownst to many visitors the 425-acre Dosewallips State Park offers good hiking too. There are more than 5 miles of trail within the park leading along the Dosewallips River, crossing tumbling creeks, and traversing quiet stands of tall timber. Relics of the area’s bygone logging days can be witnessed along the way too, adding a historic perspective to peaceful rambling.

A wonderful 3.6 mile loop hike can be made by combing some of the trails. Start by walking the dirt road (signed for Maple Valley Trail) leaving northwest from the ranger station. Walk past the Meadow Group Camp and reach the Maple Valley Trailhead near the Dosewallips River. Hike through a forest of cedars, cottonwoods and of course—maples, both bigleaf and vine. In fall the canopy is a radiant gold.

The trail hugs a steep slope above a river channel coming to a junction with the Rhody Cut-off. You’ll be returning left—so continue right to a bridged crossing of cascading Phantom Creek. The way then climbs steeply up a bluff and away from the river. The trail bends left to reach a fire road. Continue straight on the Steam Donkey Trail along the park’s western periphery. Gently climbing through maturing second growth, once again cross Phantom Creek—then cross a creek with a colorful name describing an embarrassing incident.

After crossing another cascading creek, crest the ridge and to begin a long descent on an old woods road. Pass the Izett Grade Trail. Continue right on a downhill course eventually skirting a small dammed pool, whose waters were used to power the steam donkeys this trail was named for. These machines were used by loggers in the early twentieth century to power winches for yarding and loading large logs at a railway landing.

Shortly afterward come to the Fire Road. Continue straight passing part of the old railroad bed which was decommissioned in 1913. Then descend staying left at a junction (right goes to the park road) onto the Rhody Cut-off Trail. Cross a bridge spanning a cedar-studded creek and bear left again. Now climb a ridge rife with rhododendrons, before descending and meeting back up with the Maple Valley Trail. Turn right retracing familiar steps to your start.

 

The Dosewallips State Park Loop is one of 136 featured hikes in my fully updated and expanded Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd Edition (Mountaineers Book). For more details on this hike and others (including many not found in other guides), pick up a copy of this book—the number one selling and most trusted guidebook on hiking in the Olympics—today!

 

For information on where to stay and on other things to do on the Olympic Peninsula, check out Northwest TripFinder

 

 

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