Duckabrush River Trail
Ending Elevation: 4,985 Feet
USGS Maps: The Brothers, Mount Steel, Mount Jupiter
Usage: Heavy in Summer
Vehicle Accessibility: Passenger Vehicle
Elevation Gain, One-way: 4,510 Feet
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Beginning Elevation: 440 Feet
Recommended Season: MidSummer
Length, One-way: 11 Miles
Season: July - Mid-October
From Brinnon, Drive south on Highway 101 3.5 miles to Duckabush River Road, number 2510. Turn westward (left) on to Duckabush River Road and travel 6 miles through private then National Forest land to a road junction. Turn right at this junction and follow the road .01 miles to the Duckabush Trailhead. Road 2530 leads to the left at this junction.
This trail begins on National Forest Land at the end of Forest Road 2510 - 060. It leads six miles through the National Forest within The Brothers Wilderness before reaching the Olympic National Park boundary. The route follows the Duckabush River to its headwaters on O'Neil Pass. It climbs slowly then steeply 22 miles through lowland, montane and subalpine terrain. This track provides access to the backcountry of the southeastern Olympic Mountains. Backpackers can reach the Dosewallips, Skokomish and Quinault River valleys from this track.
Begin hiking westward from the Duckabush Trailhead, elevation 440 feet, through the Olympic National Forest. Less than a mile from the trailhead you'll enter The Brothers Wilderness. Shortly after entering the wilderness the tread begins ascending to cross Little Hump, elevation 900 feet. Once atop this feature the trail descends to the riverside.
After traveling along the river for a short distance, the track turns northward, away from the river and around the deep gorge of the Duckabush, ascending Big Hump. The trail uses switchbacks to ascend 1,000 feet to Big Humps summit. Along the route openings in the forest provide views south across the valley. The track then descends, just as quickly as it ascended, to the riverside. Upon reaching the flood plain of the river hikers will notice a spur trail leading to the river. Along this tread is Five Mile Camp. From this point it is approximately one mile to the National Park Boundary.
The trail climbs and descends a few more natural obstacles along the river bank before reaching the park boundary six and a half miles from the trailhead. The difference between the second growth forest, east of Little Hump, and the virgin forest is easily discernible. The tread leads through the dense, old growth forest on the northern bank of the river descending and ascending slightly for three and a half miles to Ten Mile Camp. This camp lies at 1,640 feet a half mile east of One Too Many Creek, one of the largest tributaries to the Duckabush River.
Beyond the camp continue walking westward along the riverbank watching for One Too Many Creek on the left. Passing this confluence the trail ascends slowly reaching a small stream draining from Mt. Elk Lick within one mile. Beyond this small stream the tread ascends and descends slightly along the river. Mt. Lena lies across the valley atop the southern ridge between One Too Many Creek and Crazy Creek. These drainages are the largest in the valley and they both empty into the Duckabush River from the south.
The trail reaches the mouth of Crazy Creek near mile 13.5. Here you will find a spur trail to an overlook of the confluence of Crazy Creek and the Duckabush. There are also a limited amount of campsites near this confluence. The next camping site is Upper Duckabush Camp at mile 18.
From Crazy Creek continue along the path as the trail leaves the river for a short distance then descends slightly back to the riverside only to leave it again. Less than a mile west of Crazy Creek the trail climbs steadily north of the river gaining 650 feet, then descending slightly to meet the La Crosse Pass Trail. At this point the trail is following a river terrace a few hundred feet above the water level. After meeting the La Crosse Pass Trail it dips back to the river and continues westward.
Two miles west of the La Crosse Pass Trail junction the Duckabush River Trail crosses the river, reaching Upper Duckabush Camp on the southern shore. The camp lies 17.1 miles from the trailhead at an elevation near 2,790 feet. The trail leading southward from this camping area is the North Fork Skokomish Trail, which leads to First Divide.
The Duckabush Trail leads westward along the southern bank of the river. It remains in the flood plain for a mile and a half past the camp, continuing to climb slowly. The trail has now reached the headwaters of the Duckabush River. The trail turns southward, following the river, as it climbs past the outlet stream to Lake La Crosse. A few minutes past this confluence the tread crosses the river, climbing and leaving the waterway. The tread then crosses the outlet stream for Marmot Lake as it uses a switchback to climb to the head of the valley.
Four miles west of Upper Duckabush Camp the trail reaches Marmot Lake Camp. A spur trail leads north from this camp to Heart Lake, where more primitive camping sites exist. The elevation at Marmot Lake is approximately 4,350 feet. The trail turns southward from this site and leads a mile and a half to O'Neil Pass. The pass lies at an elevation of 4,950 feet. The last few miles of trail compose the steepest section of the trek. Although the terrain is open, above the dense forest, and the views from this portion of trail are spectacular.
O'Neil Pass lies between Mt. Duckabush, to the south, and the unnamed summits that compose the ridge extending westward from Mt. La Crosse, to the north. Looking westward the views incorporate the Quinault River valley and O'Neil Peak, as well as Muncaster Mountain and Chimney Peak across the Quinault Valley. On the western side of the pass the trail continues as the O'Neil Pass Trail.