The closing of the causeway across Lake Cushman has made vehicle access to the Dry Creek Trailhead problematic. But you can still get there.
The Shady Lane Trail by the Staircase Ranger Station in Olympic National Park extends the trip and adds a walk through uninhabited old-growth forest at both ends of the hike, a nice counterpoint to the more “urbanized” parts of the Dry Creek Trail. Follow the Shady Lane Trail over the river and through the woods, coming out on Forest Service Road 2451. Go the left, crossing the washout, and follow the road to the Dry Creek Trailhead.
The Dry Creek Trail starts out in the residential area along Cushman Lake – be polite, stick to the trail. About a third of a mile down the road is a self-registering permit station and the start of the trail. The trail goes up and down for a bit along the lake before taking you up a good incline through the forest. At 1.4 miles you’ll reach a junction – the left fork goes down to Dry Creek Camp at the lake, the right fork goes on up to the creek crossing. Just as you start to decide the trail involves some serious, relentless “up,” it levels out and takes you to the campsite at the Dry Creek crossing – the perfect lunch spot within the roar of the creek. The bridge across the creek is long gone.
: Drive U.S. 101 north to Hoodsport. Turn west onto State Route 119, Lake Cushman Road. At 9.3 miles you’ll come to a T intersection with Forest Service Road 24. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 24, the first two miles of which are paved before giving way to a good gravel road. In about three miles you will come to the now-closed bridge across Lake Cushman. Stay on Forest Service Road 24, following the signs to the Staircase Ranger Station and entrance to Olympic National Park. Parking is on the right. Walk across the bridge over the North Fork Skokomish River and find the trail head on the left.
: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult) Miles round-trip
: 10 Elevation
: 800 feet
Best time of year
: May to September
: Green Trails 199 – Mount Teabo or Custom Correct Mount Skokomish/Lake Cushman
: Olympic National Park day or annual pass to park at Shady Lane trailhead
: Call Olympic National Forest Hood Canal District South in Hoodsport at 360-877-5254 or visit www.fs.fed.us/r6/olympic/conditions/hood.pdf.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.