The Bogachiel River is a classic example of a lowland rainforest ecosystem, with a rough and tumble trail that extends all the way to the head of the valley. Born on lower mountains than the Hoh, Queets, and Quinault, it lacks the glacial coloration and tremendous flow associated with those valleys. What it makes up for is miles of solitude and adventure.
From the trailhead, drop 150 feet to the valley floor amid spruce and alder. A fallen tree doubles as a bridge over Morganroth Creek. Just after it is the junction with the Ira Spring Wetland trail, an alternate return option. Keep right to stay on the Bogachiel Trail.
At 0.3 mile is the junction with the Homestead Loop, which circles the flat next to the river. The Bogachiel Trail now follows an old road for a half-mile through mossy alders and luxuriant galleries of sword fern. This section of trail, like the rest up valley, is often muddy from fall until summer. The name Bogachiel mean “muddy waters” and in the right kind of weather, can apply to the trail itself.
A small creek must be crossed just before the trail breaks out at the river’s edge. Here the Bogachiel has been eating away at the bank, taking the trail along with it. As a result, the trail is being rerouted through the forest, away from the river. Soon the trail meets the opposite end of the Ira Spring Wetland loop. Turn right to continue, and immediately cross Kahkwa Creek.
At 1.7 miles is the Olympic National Park boundary. A trail marker and backcountry register are on the left. The trail now penetrates deeper forest, with occasional stumps of former old growth giants on either side. Several large trees that fell during the winter storm of 2017 lie across the trail and are cut to allow the trail to pass through them.
At about 3 miles the trail comes again to the river where the bank has been eroded. The trail now goes up to where a rope has been placed to allow passage above the cut bank. High above the river, the trail bounds up and down while skirting a ledge directly over the river. Descend another rope and back onto the valley bottom at Mosquito Creek.
The next few miles are often muddy and overgrown, meandering beneath beautiful old growth spruce, hemlock, and fir. In the dry season, and if the salmon berries have been cut, this section is as splendid as it gets. The hiker will delight in the many picturesque streams chattering under dapple sunshine. Conversely, the muddy conditions will deter most people during wet months when the water stands deep and covers the trail.
At 4.8 miles the trail crosses an unnamed creek next to the river. Immediately upon crossing the stream, a way path leads down to a pleasant campsite next to the river beneath a couple very large spruce. This is now the most impressive tract of forest yet. Here the rainforest reaches its optimum growth, and reminds the hiker of the famed Hoh and Quinault valleys.
At 6.0 miles the trail reaches a junction with the old Snider-Jackson Trail. This is the site of the former Bogachiel Ranger Station, shelter, and horse stable. All of the structures were washed away in 1989, along with many large trees. The trail now comes upon the river just beyond the junction where a small campsite sits right on the brink of the bank.
Just beyond the campsite is a possible river access point to the wide gravel bars, although each year a little more bank is cut. From here on the trail is often unmaintained, rough, and hard to follow. It is possible to hike to Sol Duc Hot Springs, 29 miles from the trailhead, or to venture on to the Hoh valley by fording the Bogachiel.
- 12.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 400 feet
- Highest Point
- 500 feet
Hiking Bogachiel River
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.8822, -124.2750 Open in Google Maps