I needed a walk in the woods so I decided to try the north Olympics and the Barnes Creek Trail, Marymere Falls and the Storm King Trail. Barnes Creek Trail starts at the Storm King Ranger Station and goes under the highway and is a wide smooth path to .7 miles where it branches. Barnes Creek continues straight ahead and becomes your typical 18" wide trail. For Marymere Falls, go right and in a few hundred feet, the trail crosses two streams on bridges and then starts upward. The trail forks, the fork to the left is the "Easier Trail" and the one straight ahead has a steeper grade. They both end up at the overlook of the falls with the lower trail having a lower viewpoint of the falls also. The trail is good and is suitable to all ages and has some lovely portions of forest. I was there early in the morning and the sun hadn't yet reached the canyon so everything was in the shade. It would be really beautiful when the sun is shining on the mosses, etc., on the rock wall of the falls. Very nice as it was, though. I went back to the intersection of Barnes Creek and Marymere and continued up the Barnes Creek Trail. It is a beautiful walk through the woods beside Barnes Creek. Sometimes right next to the creek and sometimes several hundred feet above. I saw many Trillium and a flower that I think is called Butterbur. I was disappointed to find that the trail ended just beyond what was the first bridge across Barnes Creek. It was really weird. The bridge was a huge log with handrails on both sides. It looked like it had been sawn off about 10 or 12 feet out and the sawn off portion, about 30 or 40 feet, was lying beside the creek just out of the water, like they deliberately stopped the trail there. It's a shame because it's a lovely trail. It's even more strange because there had been some serious work to reroute the trail around a washout a ways before the destroyed bridge. So, not being tired and wanting to do more, I went back to the intersection of Barnes Creek and Storm King and started up that way. I thought I'd hike till I hit snow and then call it a day. Well, I never hit snow. I went to the end of the maintained trail. I must have been at between 3800 and 4000 feet. It must have been because of the exposure that there wasn't any snow left. I'm sure there's plenty of snow at that elevation in the cascades. It was like hiking on a summer trail. And it's steep. I really got a workout. It's 700 feet at the Ranger Station and 4200 feet at the end of trail which is just past the end of maintained trail. Towards the end, you are walking through the woods and before you know it you are on a knife egde ridge with almost straight down on both sides. There are some really good views of Lake Crescent and up the valley of Barnes Creek and over to Aurora Ridge. It was a beautiful day with blue sky and sunshine. A perfect day for a hike.
I've done quick hikes out to Marymere several times for photos (that second bridge crossing has an excellent upstream photo) but have never done the Barnes Creek Trail. Always wondered what was up there. My time in the Olympics always seems too rushed. Strange about the footbridge. Did you ask about it at the Ranger Station? Good to hear about the snow levels too. Usually the north side keeps snow cover pretty late. Makes me want to head out there!
I was going to ask at the Ranger Station, but it's not open on the weekends yet. I imagine that will happen on Memorial Day. I was really curious why the bridge was disabled and yet there was new trail around the washout before it. When I called before the hike to see how the trails were, the ranger told me that the Barnes Creek Trail is no longer a maintained trail. That also made me wonder why they bothered to do the re-route at the washout. Barnes Creek trail used to connect with the Aurora Divide Trail which runs from the Sol Duc road to Happy Lake Ridge out of the Elwha. It used to continue past that connecting trail over to Lookout Dome. It was about 9.4 miles one way. It's a shame to let it go! I was really surprised about the snow level. I could look across the valley and see snow in the trees at about the same level. It must have been the exposure. The Storm King trail gets the afternoon sun. I called the Elwha Ranger Station and inquired about the Hurricane Hill trail for this weekend and she said the snow level there is at about 3,000 feet give or take!
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