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Duckabush River

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Explore one of the quieter Olympic Peninsula river valleys. Quiet, that is, if you don't count the Duckabush River's constant belching, crashing, and churning as it tumbles over giant boulders and squeezes through narrow rocky clefts.

Duckabush River Trail No. 803 travels over 20 miles into the heart of the Olympic Peninsula, but a trip of 3, 4, or 5 miles up this good path will certainly deliver plenty of scenery, solitude, and perhaps a chance to spot bear or elk.

The trail begins on an old roadbed through uniform second-growth fir. After 1 mile of gentle climbing, the trail enters The Brothers Wilderness Area. Drop 200 feet, and then follow an old logging railroad grade, cutting through a mossy wonderland on an almost perfectly flat path. A few remnant old firs greet you along the way. Finally, in about 2 miles, the river comes into view. A half mile farther delivers you to an absolutely gorgeous spot where emerald giant cedars and firs hang over rows of chugging white water. This mesmerizing spot is a good place to turn around if you don't feel inclined to make the 1000-foot climb up the Big Hump.

For hikers hankering to hike the Hump, the trail twists and turns using tight switchbacks to ascend this valley obstacle. Thanks to a southern exposure, madrona and manzanita can be found scattered beneath the fir and hemlock. At about 3.5 miles, emerge onto a ledge with a spectacular view east down the river and out to the Cascades. To the south, impressive St. Peters Dome hovers over the Hump. More spectacular than the view, however, is the spring floral show. Come here in April for batches of fawn lilies lining the ledges. In May, the rhodies flaunt their blossoms.

Feel like continuing? Encounter one more outcropping before cresting the Hump. Then, through impressive old growth, the way descends a much cooler north slope. In about 5.3 miles and after dropping 650 feet, the trail once again reaches the river level. Here, at a well-worn camping area near a series of impressive rapids, is a great spot to call it quits. Enjoy the view. Watch for darting dippers. Be sure to rest up, for you'll need to head over the Hump one more time before going home.
Driving Directions:

From Shelton drive north on US 101 for 37 miles. (From Quilcene drive US 101 south for 15 miles.) At milepost 310 turn left (west) onto Duckabush Road (signed "Duckabush Recreation Area"). Drive 6 miles (the pavement ends at 3.6 miles and you'll pass Collins Campground at 5 miles). Pass the horse unloading area and turn right onto Forest Road 2510-060 to reach the trailhead. Privy available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 205 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Duckabush River — Apr 20, 2014 — Strider
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns
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Apart from the many blowdowns, the trail is in excellent shape. Between the trailhead and Five Mile ...
Apart from the many blowdowns, the trail is in excellent shape. Between the trailhead and Five Mile Camp, we counted roughly 17 blowdown areas that required either crawling over or ducking/crawling under. Some of these areas would be difficult to get past with a large backpack. Several large fallen trees have completely blocked one of the switchbacks on Big Hump, forcing hikers to cut the switchback (as much as it pained us to do so). The frequency of blowdowns increased the further west we moved along the trail. Although we stopped and turned around at Five Mile Camp, we looked up along the trail heading west from there and saw at least three more blowdowns.

Keep an eye out for elk, especially where the river’s roaring current is loud. We got a close look at a small herd of elk between Big Hump and Five Mile Camp, where the river’s noise prevented them from hearing our approach. They moved up the mountainside and watched us from a high vantage point as we passed. Watch for otters, too! At Five Mile Camp we were lucky enough to spy a swimming otter.
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Duckabush River — Apr 14, 2014 — Gigi
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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What a great first hike of the season: a gorgeous day, gentle hike, wildflowers, roaring river. (Thi...
What a great first hike of the season: a gorgeous day, gentle hike, wildflowers, roaring river. (This would be a great hike to do with children.) I did start up toward the hump, knowing I had neither the time nor the inclination to go all the way, hoping to find a vista before I had to turn back. I did; but it took second seat to the fawn lilies and chocolate lilies. the lower elevation part of the trail was resplendent with trillium, and a pair of fairy slippers. Wonderful hike!
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Duckabush River — Apr 13, 2014 — explorerdogs
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Arrived at the trailhead at about 9:30 am to an almost full parking lot. Seems that several people ...
Arrived at the trailhead at about 9:30 am to an almost full parking lot. Seems that several people had backpacked in and spent the night as we met several parties on there way down as we were heading up. The trail was blissfully uncrowded though and we seemed to have it to ourselves for the most part.
     The trail is in great condition, mostly dry and very few minor blowdowns. The tread is wonderful and very easy to walk on for the most part. We hiked up to Big Hump and even the so called rocky section wasn't too hard on the feet.
     The contrast between the lush green forest we started on and the burn area up Big Hump was very evident. But new growth has begun and is amazing to see. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere and appeared to open up more during the day, as I saw different flowers going down that I hadn't noticed on my way up.
     We ate lunch and enjoyed the sun, view and the company of some other hikers on the open area just below the top of the Hump before heading back down.
     This was a great hike on a great day. Can't wait to come back and go further along.
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Duckabush River, Duckabush River — Apr 08, 2014 — Muledeer
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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One extreme to the other! My plant nerd friend and I had done the dry side yesterday, today was the ...
One extreme to the other! My plant nerd friend and I had done the dry side yesterday, today was the wet one. Flowers? YES! Trillium and yellow wood violet on the riverside trail, then more treats hiking up the big hump. I learned that the difference between avalanche lily and fawn lily (both Erythronium) is the spotted foliage, the flowers are so similar. They lined the trail and clung to the mossy rocks. There were lots of checkered lily (fritillaria) also, and a very small type of monkeyflower. The usual salmonberry, red currant and wild strawberries were there, and the first paintbrush was in bud. We hiked to the rock overlook and ate, nice views and a good turnaround point. We could see the clouds coming and turned around so we could head over to Murhut Falls. There was a few blowdowns where the fire had been, but the trail is in good shape. Look for the little money cairn, I wonder who put it there are how long it will last. Pictures posted for the plant nerds.
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Duckabush River — Mar 23, 2014 — HikesWithGuns
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns
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This is a really fun hike. I like that it's not all uphill but has some ups and downs to give you a...
This is a really fun hike. I like that it's not all uphill but has some ups and downs to give you a rest. One thing that I did not like is all of the broken car glass in the parking lot. Looks like 3 cars got broken into recently. I was contemplating leaving but decided to take my chances.
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duckabush river hike 1.jpg
Duckabush River. Image by Benjamin Williams
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Location
Duckabush River (#803)
Olympics -- East
Olympic Nation Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District, 360-765-2200
Statistics
Roundtrip 10.6 miles
Elevation Gain 2300 ft
Highest Point 1750 ft
Features
Rivers
Old growth
Fall foliage
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Wildlife
User info
May encounter pack animals
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails The Brothers No. 168
Custom Correct The Brothers-Mount Anderson

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerDuckabush River
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