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Duckabush River Trail
"Washington Hiking"
More about the book

Trail and route information and conditions change frequently. Always research your destination (check with the appropriate ranger district, park service, etc.) for the most up-to-date information. Read full disclaimer.

Region: Olympic Peninsula
Location: south of Quilcene in the Brothers Wilderness of Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park

Length: 43.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Overall rating: 9

User groups: Hikers and horses. No dogs or mountain bikes are allowed. No wheelchair access.

Seasonal information: The lower part of this trail is accessible year-round (upper part is accessible July- October).

Trail description: The Duckabush ranks as one of the longest river valley trails on the peninsula. It starts just six miles from Hood Canal and makes a long trek up to the river's headwaters. Much of the forest is big old-growth and wildlife is regularly seen throughout the valley. Yet Duckabush Trail receives only moderate use, tapering off significantly farther up the lengthy valley. As wilderness lovers would say, "Other people's loss is our gain."

The main reasons few people venture far into the Duckabush are Little Hump and Big Hump. Elevation gains of 500 feet and 1,100 feet weed out many a noncommitted day hiker. Thank Big Hump, however, for preventing timber-cutting in the upper river valley. This obstacle kept much of the valley forested in old-growth, the main theme of the trail.

Good spots to throw down for the night are found at 5 Mile and 10 Mile Camps. The trail finally reaches the steep walls of Duckabush Basin after 20 miles. The trail makes a steep ascent to La Crosse Basin, a beautiful collection of high-country lakes, and O'Neil Pass. O'Neil Pass features scenery so spectacular that it's pretty much beyond compare to anything else in the Olympics. Magnificent mountains, valleys, and rivers sum it up best. It may be a lot of hard work to get very far on Duckabush Trail, but it will be well remembered.

Permits: A federal Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here. Overnight stays require backcountry camping permits, which are available at Hoodsport Ranger Station.

Map information: For a map of Olympic National Park, contact the Outdoor Recreation Information Center at the downtown Seattle REI. For topographic maps, ask Green Trails for No. 167, Mount Steel, and No. 168, The Brothers, or ask the USGS for Mount Steel, The Brothers, and Mount Jupiter.

Directions: From Quilcene, drive 16 miles south on U.S. 101 to the Duckabush River Road (Forest Service Road 2510). Turn right (west) and drive 5.5 miles to Forest Service Road 2510-060. Turn right and drive .1 mile to a large parking lot and the signed trailhead.

Contact information: Olympic National Park, Wilderness Information Center, 3002 Mount Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362, 360/565-3100; Olympic National Forest, Hoodsport Ranger District, 150 North Lake Cushman Road, Hoodsport, WA 98548, 360/877-5254.

Copyright 2005 by Scott Leonard

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