Monday, March 8, 2010

Running the Duckabush River Trail

Olympic National Forest - Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Duckabush River trail covers just over 21 miles to it's end at Marmot Lake (elev. 4300). My husband and I chose to run the rolling, rocky trail to the Five Mile Campground, which is situated amid gigantic, river smoothed boulders right at the river's edge. It is a beautiful campground and has room for at least three camping parties. For those of you who run trails, this is a very runable route, just make sure you wear your trail running shoes, and prepare to get your feet wet in the many creek crossings! If you would like to go further, yet not all the way to Marmot Lake, there is also a Ten Mile Campground.

To get to the trail head, follow Highway 101 south from Quilcene about 15 miles to the turn off onto Duckabush River Road. Follow Duckabush River Road (FS Road 2510) about 5 1/2 miles and veer right at the brown signpost marked 060 (2510-060). If you pass it you will cross a concrete bridge over the river and you need to turn around. We did just that this morning and went well past the bridge as well, as the directions that we received weren't so hot. By the time we figured out our mistake, we were really getting anxious to get out of the car and get moving! Once on 2510-060 the trail head is just a tenth of a mile up the road. We had hoped to reach the trail head by 7:30 a.m., but didn't get started until round about 8:30.

But, what a jewel of a day! Though still technically winter, the brilliant, green beauty of spring seemed to already be upon us, and we soaked in every ray of morning sunshine that made it's way through the dense forest. The trail starts out with a very easy grade which becomes rockier after the first mile. At about 2 1/2 miles the trail begins to climb the Big Hump, which is a rocky outcropping that, once over, you will descend back down to the river just before reaching Five Mile Campground.

Running along under a canopy of trees, under a deep blue sky, surrounded by velvety moss covered rocks and branches dripping with dew, the gurgle of brooks running across the path on their way to the big river below, and the roar of the Duckabush, now closer, now further, what more could we possibly ask for on a trail run? Nothing, that's what. So our first five miles out were filled with stops for viewing and picture taking and general jawing about how great a day we were having together. As it is early March, we encountered numerous, recently fallen trees which had yet to be cleared on this well maintained trail. There are a couple of spacious, rocky overhangs along the trail leading up to the Big Hump that offer spectacular views of the valley below, as well as Mt. Jupiter and The Dome.

The campground is a nice destination in itself, and we both immediately thought of bringing our kids there for an afternoon, or possibly an overnight backpacking trip. After soaking in the sights and sounds, and the serenity, I might add, we headed back toward the switchbacks to the Hump. We took a more ambitious pace on the way back to the car though, and my mind kept drifting to Starbucks soy lattes and pumpkin scones....mmmm, yeah, hungry. That always gets me motivated to pick up my pace. No, there isn't a Starbucks anywhere nearby this trail, but there was a turkey sandwich and an apple waiting for me in the car, and that was good enough for me.


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