Location: Colonel Bob Wilderness
Land Agency: Olympic National Forest
Roundtrip: 3.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
Contact: Olympic National Forest, Pacific Ranger District, Quinault
Green Trails Map: Mt Christie No. 166,
Access: From Hoquiam, travel north on US 101 for 38 miles turning right onto South Shore Road. Then proceed for 11.4 miles to trailhead.
Good to Know: exceptional old-growth, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, wilderness rules apply, practice Leave No Trace Principals
Venture up a deep canyon into a lonely (but easily accessible) corner of the 11,961-acre Colonel Bob Wilderness. This hike is short, but not easy. It is steep and rough in places. But the canyon is ruggedly beautiful and the trees are impressive. During the winter months chances are pretty good of observing elk in this rugged rift in the Quinault Ridge.
The trail starts by a huge ledge housing an array of ferns and lichens. Ignore the kiosk sign that says “Col Bob Trail 4 miles.” The trail beyond the 2-mile mark has long been abandoned. Overgrown to jungle proportions, even Sasquatch now avoids it. Immediately start climbing on a sometimes steep, sometimes rocky route. Numerous creeks cross the trail, making it a challenge if you’re intent on keeping your boots dry.
After gaining a couple of hundred feet, the trail rounds a bend and enters the deep canyon. Soon enter the Colonel Bob Wilderness. Under an emerald canopy of stately old hemlocks and firs with frothing Fletcher Creek crashing in the distance, continue climbing. Waves of sword ferns appear to roll down the vertical canyon walls.
The way gets rougher, growing rockier and rootier as it approaches the creek. Now enter a magical spot where big mossy boulders corral the feisty waters. Stare across to the sheer vertical wall at the far side of the canyon, where you can also see the scars of avalanches and rockslides.
Now on rough tread, the trail dashes under fallen giants, darts over slick rocks, skirts damp ledges, and wiggles through boulders on a steep course. At 1.9 miles, break out into a small clearing alongside Fletcher Creek. A huge cedar log acts as a bridge over the gurgling waters, and another pretty waterfall can be seen just upstream. The trail ends here at a campsite. Sit by the creek and enjoy a corner of the Quinault rainforest where few bootprints have been left behind.
Fletcher Canyon 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