Hiking Trails in the Evergreen Coho Vicinity

Article by Laura Reeves

Photographs by Larry Koenig

 

      Our favorite activity is hiking, and we have found plenty of trails within a day’s drive of the Evergreen Coho SKP Park.  There are three basic kinds of hikes on the Olympic Peninsula:  beach hikes, mountain hikes, and rain forest hikes.  In this article I will give a few examples of each type of hike, although there are many more to be explored.

     I have not included driving directions or detailed hiking descriptions.  I suggest you use an Internet search engine to find more facts and maps of the trails.  There are several good guide books you can buy.  My favorite is “Day Hiking-Olympic Peninsula” by Craig Romano published by “The Mountain Books”. I bought this in Costco’s in 2008

 

Beach Hikes

 

Portage and Lagoon Trails

This easy hike is found on South Indian Island.  It is about three miles round trip and has 50 feet of elevation gain.  The hike begins in the county park, immediately past the Indian Island Bridge.  You start off on the Portage Trail, walking through a tunnel of blackberry  bushes.  The Portage Trail ends at a dirt road, and the Lagoon Trail begins a tenth of a mile later.  If it is low tide, you can walk along the beach and lagoon when the Lagoon Trail ends.

 

 

 

Chetzemoka Park to Point Wilson Lighthouse

This hike starts in the town of Port Townsend.  There is a path leading down to the beach at the back end of Chetzemoka Park.  In all but the highest tides, you can follow the rocky beach north.  The walking is difficult at first, but gets easier as the rocks become smaller and eventually turn to sand.  When the beach reaches the impassable marine museum pier, walk inland around the pier, and then back to the beach.  When you reach Point Wilson, you can explore the exterior of the lighthouse.

 

 

East Beach County Park

This Jefferson County park is on Marrowstone Island.  It has one of the nicest beaches we have found in the area.  At low tide you can walk for miles in either direction. 

 

 



 


 

Dungeness Spit

Located at the west end of Sequim, the Dungeness Spit is a classic hike.  It is 10 miles round trip if you hike to the end.  You start off with a 130 foot drop down to the beach, but the rest of the hike is flat.  Low tide makes for the easiest walking.  We have often seen seals in the water staring back at us, and once we came across a seal cub on the beach.  The volunteers will give you a tour of the New Dungeness Light Station at the end of the spit.

  

 

Larry Scott Trail

This bicycle/walking trail begins at the Boat Haven in Port Townsend and continues to South Discovery Road near the Discovery Bay Golf Course.  It is a trail that continues to grow.  The Larry Scott Trail is part of the Olympic Discovery Trail that will eventually run from Port Townsend to Port Angeles.  The surface is smooth and has very little elevation gain.  It starts off following the shoreline, crosses Highway 20, then passes through farmland and forests.  It is a great “striding out” trail. 

Mountain Hikes

Grand Ridge

The trailhead is at the end of Obstruction Road off Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.  It is the highest maintained trail in the park and contains some of the most spectacular scenery in the state of Washington.  You start off on the wide open slopes of Grand Ridge immediately.  The views never end.  If you do the whole ridge to Deer Park it is 15 miles round trip, but we shorten it by going only as far as the end of Elk Mountain (5 miles roundtrip, 900 feet elevation gain) or to Maiden Peak (9 miles roundtrip, 1500 feet elevation gain).  The views of Olympic Peak and the Needles are breathtaking.

 

 

Klahhane Ridge

Accessed from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Klahhane Ridge Trail takes you away from the crowds.  You can get to the ridge several ways, but we like to use the Switchback Trail, which is located just prior to topping out on the Hurricane Ridge Road.  The trail is five miles roundtrip
and has 1700 feet elevation gain.  If you are lucky, you will see the resident mountain goats.

 

 Mount Townsend

This is one of the many trails near the town of Quilcene.  Expect company, because Mount Townsend is one of the most popular hikes in the Olympics.  It is so beautiful; you may not even notice that you have hiked 8.2 miles roundtrip and climbed 2900 feet.

 

 

 

 

 Marmot Pass

Also accessed near Quilcene, this journey will take you 10.6 miles roundtrip and 3500 feet in elevation gain.  My guide book says, “If for some terrible reason you are only allowed one hike in the Olympics in your lifetime, this should be it.”  That says it all.  Just do it!

 

Rain Forest Hikes

 

Gray Wolf Trail

The access road for this pretty hike is located near the town of Sequim.  The length of the trail is about eight miles roundtrip.  It has several ups and downs, but still only has a total elevation gain of 800 feet.  You will hike through old growth conifers as you walk along the trail.  We noticed that even if the day was hot, the temperature was always noticeably cooler near the river.  The end of our day hike is where the trail pinches out.  Supposedly, the trail continues on the other side of the river, but there is no bridge and the crossing would be dangerous. 

Miller Peninsula and Thompson Spit

Experience a new state park just in the planning stages.  This trail has been built but no one knows much about it.  The guide book I mentioned above gives detailed driving directions to the trailhead.  Because the trail is so unfamiliar to all but local folks, you will pretty much have the place to yourself.  You will hike through a lush temperate rain forest on the way to the beach.  Then you can hike east along the coast to a picturesque lagoon with a lone tree.

 

 

 

Tunnel Creek Trail

We felt like we were in another world as we hiked through the misty forest along Tunnel Creek.  We encountered only one other couple during our entire hike.  The ferns, mosses, and old growth hemlocks lent a primeval feeling to our experience.  The hike is accessed from a National Forest road out of Quilcene.  If you hike to Harrison Lake, as we did, you will travel 8.5 miles roundtrip with 2450 feet of elevation gain.

 

Lower Big Quilcene River

This hike is popular because it goes for many miles with relatively little elevation gain.  If you terminate your hike at Camp Jolly, you will have traveled 10 miles roundtrip and will have climbed 800 feet.  The trees are huge and magnificent.  We took several breaks to eat the wild huckleberries along the trail during our July hike. 

See you on the trail.

Let us know if you would like to see more local hikes.

 

 

 

 

  



 

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