Olympic Scenic Byway - Washington Scenic Drives


Hood Canal
U.S. Highway 101 parallels the west shore of Hood Canal for approximately 35 miles as it winds and curves through many waterfront communities. Bring your camera to capture the blue water and green forests. Lush vegetation extends from shoreline to the rugged mountain interior. Wild rhododendrons bloom profusely in the springtime along Hood Canal. Other plants including huckleberry, salal, western swordfern, vine maple, Douglas fir, western hemlock and western red cedar produce a wide variety of textures and shades of green.

Shellfish may be gathered at several public beaches (with a State license) along the Canal. The famous Hood Canal oysters can be purchased at various points along Highway 101. Shrimping season opens mid-May, creating a lot of activity on and around the Canal.

The Olympic National Forest, Olympic National Park and Washington State Parks combine to provide excellent camping, picnicking, boating and hiking opportunities along Hood Canal.

Points Of Interest

1 Skokomish Indian Tribal Center (off Hwy. 106)
2 POTLATCH: food.
2a Potlatch State Park: camping, picnic.
2b Hood Canal Recreation Park: picnic, boat ramp.
3 HOODSPORT: food, groceries, gas, public dock.
3a Hood Canal Ranger Station: Visitor Information.
3b Lake Cushman St. Park: camping, picnic, boating.
3c Big Creek Campground: ONF.
4 LILLIWAUP: groceries, gas.
4a Lilliwaup Tidelands State Park.
5 Eagle Creek Recreational Tidelands.
6 Jorsted Creek Road: aft. route to Lake Cushman.
7 ELDON: Food, groceries, gas.
8 Hamma Hamma Road, F.S. 25.
8a Hamma Hamma Campground: ONF.
8b Lena Lake Trailhead: 3.2 miles to lake, easy hike.
8c Lena Creek Campground: ONF.
8d Hamma Hamma Beaver Pond: short trail.
8e Putvin Trailhead: 3.0 miles, most difficult hike.
8f Mildred Lakes Trailhead: 4.5 miles, difficult hike.
9 Triton Cove State Park: picnic, boat ramp.
10 Duckabush Road, F.S. 2510.
10a Interrorem guard Station and trail: 0.1 mile.
10b Ranger Hole Trailhead: 0.8 mile, easy hike.
10c Collins Campground: ONF.
10d Duckabush Trailhead: 6.2 miles, moderate hike.
11 Pleasant Harbor State Park: day use, dock.
12 BRINNON: groceries, food, gas.
13 Dosewallips State Park: camping, picnic, tidelands.
14 Dosewallips Road, F.S. 2610.
14a Elkhorn Campground: ONF.
14b Dosewallips Campground & Ranger Station: ONP,
Road very steep in places with few turnouts. Not
recommended for trailers.
15 Seal Rock Campground: ONF.
16 Whitney Point Shellfish Lab.: Sm. Interp. Center,
beach access, Center open 4/1 to 9/4, 8 am - 4 pm.
17 Rainbow Campground: ONF.
18 Mt. Walker Viewpoint: 5 miles, narrow, steep
graveled road with turnouts. Wonderful views.
19 Falls View Campground: ONF.
20 QUILCENE: Ranger Station, groceries, gas, food.

Quinault Ranger District
There are several ways to explore the Olympic rain forest and enjoy the emerald beauty of this unique area. For those who prefer to drive and experience the rain forest from their automobile, the following route provides excellent opportunities to see a wide variety of features within a relatively short period of time. Allow approximately one and one-half hours to complete this 31-mile loop drive around Quinault Lake. You can begin your tour from any spot along the loop; however, the following description starts at the Forest Service Quinault Ranger Station on the south shore of Quinault Lake.

From the ranger station, drive northeast on the South Shore Road. Watch for open vistas of Quinault Lake as you travel past Falls Creek Campground (0.1 mile), several recreational residences and Gatton Creek Campground (0.5 mile). The Gatton Creek site provides excellent opportunities to access the water's edge and has picnic facilities and toilets. Beyond the Forest boundary, into the Colonel Bob Wilderness; watch for Merriman Falls (4.4 miles) on the right side of the road. The road parallels the the road continues though mixed ownership of private lands. The Colonel Bob Trailhead (3.8 miles) is the major portal for hiking Quinault River for several miles, providing views of an ever-changing river. Notice the wide river bed and large gravel bars. Near the Olympic National Park boundary (9.8 miles) there is a small but spectacular waterfall at Bunch Creek that can be seen from the road. Turn left at the next road junction (10.8 miles) and cross the Quinault River. Across the bridge the road forks again. Turn left and begin your tour along the North Shore. Look for Roosevelt Elk and other wildlife in the open fields. The Olympic National Park's Quinault River Ranger Station and a small Visitor Center (19.6 miles) provide a good opportunity to stretch. If time allows, walk the short 1/2 mile self-guiding Maple Grove Nature Trail, which begins near the Visitor Center. July Creek Campground (22.0 miles) is a walk-in campground. The route leaves the Park (25.3 miles) and junctions with Highway 101 (25.5 miles). Turn left onto Highway 101 and drive 2 miles to a road junction just across the Quinault River. Turn left after crossing the bridge. In a short mile, the road junctions with the South Shore Road. Turn left and drive to the Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail (29.1 miles). The trailhead has a large parking lot and restrooms. For further exploration, this loop trail offers an excellent opportunity to hike through lush plants, hanging mosses, and giant trees. Small signs interpret the fascinating features of the rain forest. If time allows, don't miss this 1/2-mile hike.

From the trailhead, the road continues northeast to Willaby Campground (29.4 miles). This popular site has a boat ramp and picnic facilities. The Lake Quinault Lodge (31.3 miles) is near the end of the loop. This rustic lodge has a gift shop and bar and provides meals and rooms with spectacular views. There is a gas station and a small mercantile store across from the lodge. The Quinault Ranger Station (31.4 miles) completes the loop.

NOTE: The route is mostly a two-lane paved surfaced road. However, there is a short, narrow, one lane section of gravel surfaced road (approximately 6.3 miles in length) north of the Park's Ranger Station on- the North Shore. This short section is not recommended for wide vehicles or trailers over 19 feet in length.

Quilcene Ranger District
Recommended Season: SPRING SUMMER FALL

Mt. Walker is the only peak facing Puget Sound that has a road to it's summit. This popular drive begins five miles south of Quilcene on U.S. Highway 101. Forest Service Road 2730 will take the visitor to viewpoints at Mount Walker's summit (2,804 feet above sea level). The road is narrow, steep, and a though is graveled with some turnouts, is not recommended for trailers or motorhomes.

The mountain side is densely covered with 100-year-old Douglas fir trees that have grown up in an area that once was burned by fire. Wild rhododendrons grow along the road and around both viewpoints. The large, showy flowers are bright purplish-pink. 'Rhodies' bloom May to July.

The ML Walker Trailhead is located 1/4 mile past the entrance gate on Forest Service Road 2730. This delightful two mile trail climbs steadily at 10 to 20 percent, with steeper slope gradients and switchbacks. Climbing through Douglas fir, wild rhododendrons and ground coverings of salal and Oregon grape, this is a well-maintained trail.

The area seen from the two summit viewpoints covers more than 5 million acres. This is almost like having the entire State of New Hampshire spread out before one's eyes.

Features seen from the North Viewpoint: Mt. Jupiter can be seen through the notch just west of Buck Mountain. It is the closest high peak to Hood Canal.

Mt. Constance, as seen from Seattle, is the highest peak in the Olympics. Its gigantic rock areas are some of the most spectacular on the peninsula.

Big Quilcene Canyon is fed by hundreds of streams. Tapping this vast watershed, the City of Port Townsend has developed a million dollar system transporting the valuable water over 30 miles.

Buckhorn Mountain consists of three peaks just north of Marmot Pass. From a distance, the peaks resemble a pair of large curved horns similar to these on white-tailed deer.

Green Mountain is more aptly named the 'Mountain of Fire'. Several large fires spread over Green Mountain at the turn of the century. Many of the lower parts of the mountain have been planted and much of the rest has seeded in naturally.

Mt. Baker is the fourth highest peak in Washington State with a glacial system second only to Mt. Rainier. On a very clear day, Mt. Baker can be seen to the northeast.

Quilcene Bay is a sheltered arm of Hood Canal, providing a boat haven, log rafting storage, and oyster farms for the world-famous Quilcene oysters.

Features seen from the South Viewpoint:
Hood Canal, this great and protected waterway, is a vast arm of Puget Sound. The trough was created as the Vashon Glacier gouged its way southward during the glacial period 10,000 years ago.

Hood Canal Floating Bridge, first completed in 1561, was rebuilt after a severe windstorm on February 13, 1979 sank half of the bridge. This unique bridge links the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.

Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet, is the highest peak in the state. The mountain is an ice clad volcano rising over 9,000 feet above the surrounding foothills. Its glacial system is the largest on any single peak in the contiguous United States and contains over 28 square miles of ice.

In the distance, the major metropolitan areas of western Washington can be seen: Everett, 33 miles away; Seattle, 28 miles away; and Tacoma, 39 miles away. On a clear day you can see the Seattle Space Needle.

Additional information on the mountains mentioned here, as well as hiking trails and points of interest, may be obtained from the Quilcene Ranger District Office, Quilcene, Washington 98376. (206-765-3368).

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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