VACATION DAY #4: Olympic National Park Elwha River Hike from Madison Falls TH to Glines Canyon Overlook

Hike Distance: 8.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 458.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1402 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 50657 feet

This was a gorgeous day but was supposed to be rainy.  It was cooler than expected, with wind, but we were prepared.  We were originally going to visit another section of the Olympic Discovery Trail, but at the last minute I had a yearning to visit the Elwha River area.  There were about 10 vehicles at the parking lot when we arrived, so we decided to head out toward the Gline Canyon Overlook!  The Gline Canyon Overlook is located on the dam that previously flooded the Elwha Valley.  Removing the dam has enabled the native salmon to once again spawn in a pristine wilderness! 🙂

There is a locked gate, just past the Madison Creek Falls TH parking lot, on the road leading toward the Gline Canyon Overlook. This is because the Elwha River had again washed out the road and was not passable.  Since this seems to happen often, the forest service has created a bypass trail around elwha river washout. The washout was extensive and river had breached the road and campground! There was a nice little drop-off area on trail but not too bad, but be careful with your children and dogs.

We traversed the washout bypass trail (about one mile long) and came out on road and continued south on it. We reached the National Park Ranger Station, which was empty, since vehicles can’t make it past the washout. However, there were about a dozen deer on a field outside the National Park ranger quarters.  Not surprisingly, the Deer were cautious but not afraid of us.

We took Whiskey Bend Road to the left just after ranger station. The Hurricane Hill trail was just off this road, close to the intersection.  The Hurricane Hill trail is Incredibly steep and we didn’t attempt it, since this wasn’t our objective today.  We continued up the road for a while and finally reached Gline Canyon Spillway overlook. The Overlook is well marked and there is parking available.  You’ll then walk out on a remaining section of the dam and receive a fantastic view of the Elwha valley, with snow-capped peaks in background!   Truly a breathtaking view that is etched in my brain forever!  There were very gusty winds out on viewpoint.  Please note that the viewing area is fenced in and is safe as long as you don’t climb over.  That said, the drop-off could give you vertigo when you look down, and I can’t lean over the fence for this reason. 😦

We headed back to the trailhead and the sky was completely clear. No people were seen on road for most of day!   The majority of this hike was a road walk but the views of the Elwha River and valley were well worth walking on the gravel.  When we got back to the TH we visited Madison Falls, which is just off parking area.   This trail is short, paved and has access for wheelchairs, which we think is great. 🙂   Madison Creek Falls is quite beautiful and we had it to ourselves, for a few minutes. Best day of our vacation and great last full day of hiking. My back felt very good, even after hiking over eight miles!   I hope this is a pattern. 🙂

Great memories made today.

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