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Notch Pass

This is a very old, historic trail. It may have been a Native American trade route across the Olympics. It was rebuilt by the CCC in the 1930's. It was relocated several years ago and re-opened from the Quilcene side through the notch in the Quilcene Range (easily seen from Highway 101.) It climbs steeply through the notch and then traverses along the Quilcene Range.
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There are 14 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Notch Pass — Jan 07, 2014 — Olygrywolf
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns
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A quiet walk with the Indians. The trail is in good shape. Eight pieces of timber on the trail. One ...
A quiet walk with the Indians. The trail is in good shape. Eight pieces of timber on the trail. One around 20 inches in diameter, one around 10 inches, and the rest 6 inches or less. No snow on the trail all the way over to Bark Shanty. A great peaceful workout for the New Year.
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Notch Pass — Mar 22, 2013 — Joe Hendricks
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Here's 6 minutes of highlights from the hike: Wonderful half day jaunt ...
Here's 6 minutes of highlights from the hike:
Wonderful half day jaunt up to the Notch and back.
Trail is in great shape, but road is in awful shape(potholes to China - take a 4x4!). OK, so maybe there are a few downed trees, but for this time of year that's pretty good!
No one else there and last hiker logged in 5 days ago. So if you want solitude, add this to your WTA 'My Backpack'.
Last night's snow left a beautiful inch of fresh white, easy to walk on and very nice to see. When I reached the road on top, a light snow turned into hailstones so I skipped the second section that goes down to the Quilcene River.
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Notch Pass, Lower Big Quilcene River — Feb 17, 2013 — Cabbage Worm
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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I pushed well out of my envelope of comfort by driving PAST Mount Walker. Unconsciously I had set M...
I pushed well out of my envelope of comfort by driving PAST Mount Walker. Unconsciously I had set Mount Walker as the northern limit of my dayhiking range. It was good to get out of my comfort zone!

 I drove straight to the trailhead but I did not see the trailhead and continued to drive down the road until I could go no further in my car. Then I turned around and drove right past the trail head a second time. I then drove down Penny Creek road looking for the trail and then I gave up and headed for the lower Quilcene trail. But a small tree in the middle of the road stopped my progress in my passenger car. The tree would have been no problem to drive over in my Jeep. Then I looked at my GPS and saw that I had my track log on and my track log showed that I had passed the trail (my old topo map shows the original trail and I had marked where a road crosses the original trail as a hiking aid, not as a driving aid).

So back down the torn up dirt road I went and there was the trail head. I had been expecting it to be at the end of the road, not on the side of the road and I think that is why I missed it. Thanks to all this confusion I did not get to start my hike until 11pm. I knew I had to make good time if I wanted to get out before dark. I usually like to get out before dark when I am hiking on a trail that is new to me. So I set my turn around time at 3pm at the latest.

As I was preparing to leave my car I noticed it was smelling funny.. the smell was antifreeze.. oh no! Had I cracked the radiator one of the three times that I bottomed out my car on the road past the trail? Had one of the rocks I kicked up cracked the radiator?

I opened the hood and could tell that the engine was quite hot. I wish the temperature gauge on my dash was accurate. I checked the oil and saw it was just at the fill line. That set my mind at ease. I topped up the oil before I started my hike so I would not forget to do it on the way out. I should top of the coolant too now that I am home.

The trail goes up, up and up. It is a nice wide trail that is easy to follow and has a good grade. Just before the pass snow suddenly appeared and got deep fast. The road at the pass was under deep snow
After crossing the road at the pass the trail gets really nasty. It drops into a nasty little ravine at this point. The snow was deep and I kept plunging in over the top of my gaiters. There were a lot of trees over the trail and I was not really sure where the trail was.

But I pushed on. After the trail crosses the 27 road the snow is mostly gone. The 27 had deep snow too but there was one set of monster truck tracks on the road. I did not have to drop down too far before the snow and blow downs were gone.

The big new bridge over the Quilcene hooks the Notch Pass trail to the Big Quilcene trail. At the junction I turned left and went to "Bark Shanty".. well my old topo map shows a shelter there, so It was little bit of a let down to find nothing but a sign there. I brewed my tea on the bench and sat by the river and drank it. If I do this hike again I will have my lunch near the bridge.

I headed back towards my car at 3pm and made it to my car at 5:35, that was just 5 minutes after sunset but well before dark. On the way out my car slid into the ditch. The mud on the road is quite slick. My front right tire was firmly in the ditch and I thought I was SOL. Luckily I was able to rocket my car out of the ditch in reverse with one foot on the brake an one foot on the gas. It only took one try to get out of the ditch.. whew..

Technically the road is passible in a passenger car. I saved about $11 in gas money by taking my car instead of my Jeep.

Lots of pretty pictures and details on my blog:[…]/notch-pass-east-to-bark-shanty.html
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Notch Pass — Jun 10, 2012 — Jason
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns
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I blame my co-pilot. It should have been a simple drive to the Tubal Cain Mine trailhead, but he got...
I blame my co-pilot. It should have been a simple drive to the Tubal Cain Mine trailhead, but he got us hopelessly lost. We were ready with a plan, maps, and equipment, but we could not make sense of the maze of forest roads off of Hwy 101. My wife says it's not fair to blame my hiking partner, but he was in the passenger seat and not once did he think to mention that you can't get to Tubal Caine from Quilcene. We should have ignored Google Map and relied upon Romaro's directions. That's what I deserve for relying upon a King Charles Caviler Spaniel to get us there. My Newfoundlands would have known better.

After we finally figured this out (and pulled a wheel to dislodge a screaming rock), we headed to the Quilence Ranger Station to find a trail close by. The helpful outside map listed several hikes, and we decided on Notch Pass. It was nearby and rated easy. That was our second mistake of the day.

The drive to the trailhead is relatively close. Watch for the turn onto NF-27. The fire road is potholed and little squirrely. I wouldn't try it in my wife's minivan. My Honda Pilot did fine. The trailhead only has room for two cars, so if it's full, you're in for a hike to the trailhead. The fire road is so tight, I don't know if there's a close-by place to park.

After signing in, we started climbing up a steep trail through second growth forest. Most of the rhodies had lost their blooms, but there was interesting greenery and small blooming plants along the way. A few birds were spotted, but no other wildlife was seen. The trail is up-and-back, and is decently maintained. It gets tight in some places with a few trees to climb over, but I liked it. It wasn't too slippery and it felt more natural.

The only problem was the slope. It just continued to climb relentlessly. I'm not in terrible shape, but I was huffing and puffing to get to the top of the ridge. In about two miles, you'll climb around 1800 feet. It doesn't sound like much, but even with a temperature of 55 degrees, I was dripping sweating in a t-shirt. My co-pilot was happy to leap over the occasional stream that crossed the trail, but he didn't complain when we turned around when we reached Road 100 after around two miles.

There aren't many view points along the trail. We had a few glimpses through the trees, but nothing spectacular. Just before the Road 100 crossing there is a very interesting moss forest. It made reaching that milestone feel special.

Getting down is a breeze. If I wasn't worried about turning an ankle, I could almost fly down the trail. It took us around 90 minutes to get to the two mile mark, and about 30 minutes to get back down. At least it gave us some time to cool down before we got back to our ride.

This is a great hike if you want a good workout and some privacy with nature. My five year old and seven year old daughters have hiked Green Mountain in Kitsap (with a lot of griping). I don't think they would have enjoyed this. I could have forced my twelve year old son to do it if I had to.

All-in-all, it was an interesting diversion and a chance to get back on the trail.

A few photos at:[…]/
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Notch Pass — Feb 23, 2012 — Joe Hendricks
Day hike
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Great winter hike for a short, snow-free romp. At 1000' elevation/mile it's decent exercise to the N...
Great winter hike for a short, snow-free romp. At 1000' elevation/mile it's decent exercise to the Notch.

The last 1.4 miles to the trailhead on FR 27-010 has huge potholes. We did fine in our Explorer, but would not suggest any car without 4x4 or very high clearance to try it.

Beautiful trail. The first 1/2 mile is a bit less steep than the rest to the Pass. The long switchbacks reminded me of Rattlesnake Ledge, but the undergrowth was more lush here. Lots of moss, fern, oregon grape and rhododendron beneath alder, cedar, fir and occasional hemlock.

At 2.1 miles, the Notch was like a scene from The Hobbit - dark and almost completely covered in moss. Then you break out of the forest onto the logging road. Instead of continuing down to the river, we went on about a mile up the road with occasional glimpses of adjacent ridges.

It got very cold and windy as the clouds rolled in, so we headed back down. Our 6.5 miles roundtrip took less than 4 hours.
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Photo by Nutmeg.
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Notch Pass (#831)
Olympics -- East
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

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Red MarkerNotch Pass
47.8199666667 -122.93615
  • Signature Trail 2010
  • Trail Work 2013 Frontcountry
  • Trail Work 2012
  • Trail Work 2011
  • Trail Work 2010
(47.8200, -122.9361) Open in new window
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