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Upper South Fork Skokomish River

Olympic Peninsula > Olympia
47.4794, -123.4521 Map & Directions
16.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2950 feet
Highest Point
4103 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Bistort on the Upper South Fork Skokomish trail in summer. Photo by Eric Nagle. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Old growth
  • Rivers

Try this for a tough dayhike or the start of an epic backpack in the Olympics! Continue reading

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Hiking Upper South Fork Skokomish River

Try this for a tough dayhike or the start of an epic backpacking trip in the Olympics!

The journey begins behind a stock unloading ramp — seldom used judging by the garden of weeds on top. The first mile of old roadbed gets you to Rule Creek, where a giant fallen tree has been repurposed into a solid footbridge.

Calf-deep crossings at two other creeks and the Upper Skokomish are best tackled with water shoes and trekking poles. Routefinding can be difficult on the other side of streams and meadows.

Think like a trailbuilder (no sharp turns) and look for cairns or flagging tape as you keep the same general direction of travel. Long pants and gaiters are recommended as portions of the trail become brushy and overgrown past the two-mile mark. Backpackers will find several established campsites along the route beginning at Snowfield Creek, 2.7 miles from the trailhead.

You’ll cross from National Forest to National Park at 5 miles — time for responsible canines to turn their humans
around. Otherwise, push on to your highpoint at Sundown Pass, or even down to Lake Sundown if time and legs

There are seemingly endless stretches of 30-degree slope trail with rocky tread and no switchbacks, and
only peek-a-boo views of the Skokomish Valley.

Why go to all this trouble? It’s the TREES! Acres of old growth evergreens create a canopy that blots out nearly all direct sunlight, and fosters a lush forest floor of ferns, berry bushes, and subalpine wildflowers.

WTA Pro Tip: If you’re taking the Bremerton Ferry you’ll be driving through the quaint town of Union along the Hood Canal. Consider stopping for a burger and a beer at the Robin Hood Pub, sit-down Mexican fare at 2 Margaritas, or, with reservations and a clothing upgrade, fine dining at the Alderbrook Resort & Spa.

WTA worked here in 2021, 2019 and 2018!

Hike Description Written by
Steven Payne, WTA Correspondent

Upper South Fork Skokomish River

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.4794, -123.4521 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Drive Highway 101 (on the Hood Canal side) to the Skokomish Valley Road. Turn west onto this road and drive 5.3 miles, then take a slight right on FS 23. Continue for 15 miles, make a slight right on (unsigned) FS 2361 to trailhead at end of road.

The roads to access this trail are a mix of paved and gravel road, accessible by low-clearance vehicles. No toilet or potable water at the trailhead. A wildlife gate adds another 8 miles roundtrip to the hike Oct. 1 to Apr. 30.

More Hike Details


Olympic Peninsula > Olympia

Upper South Fork Skokomish River (#873.1)

Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District and Olympic National Park

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Custom Correct Enchanted Valley–Skokomish

USGS Mt. Tebo

Buy the Green Trails Mt Christie No. 166 map

Buy the Green Trails Mt Steel No. 167 map

Buy the Green Trails Mt Tebo No. 199 map

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Upper South Fork Skokomish River

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