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Duckabush River

Olympic Peninsula > Hood Canal
47.6852, -123.0397 Map & Directions
Length
10.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2300 feet
Highest Point
1750 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Hard
A hiker perched on a carpet of moss is dwarfed by trees on the Duckabush River Trail. Photo by Mirek. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Old growth
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Fall foliage
  • Rivers

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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. Continue reading

Rating
3.65 out of 5

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Hiking Duckabush River

Here’s a true woodland wanderer’s dream. Start with a couple miles of gentle up-and-down, through forest coated with thick mosses, with glimpses of a crashing river that’s an ethereal shade of blue-green. Then begin steadily climbing up switchbacks, the beginning of your journey through an aging forest fire, and on to views of a verdant river valley rolling out at your feet. An added bonus – this is one of WTA’s most frequently-visited trails. Trees in the burn area fall routinely, so the access you enjoy to these surroundings is thanks to volunteer crews who visit this trail year after year to remove them.

Begin from the trailhead parking area and immediately head gently uphill along a wide, rocky tread through thick forest. A creek runs along the inside of this former roadbed, so WTA crews have installed drainage structures along this first mile of trail, to keep the small stream from eroding the trail away. As the trail curves around to the left, take in the enormous bigleaf maples that line the way, and listen to the wind sighing through the trees.

After a mile, pass a sign indicating The Brothers Wilderness. Descend a short hill, then follow the trail as it flattens out through some stunning fir and pines. WTA wields their tools here as well, evening tread and providing sturdier footing for hikers.

Two miles from the trailhead you have your first glimpse of the Duckabush River. Hike alongside this mighty river, which may be silty from spring runoff, or crystal clear in winter. Head upstream about half a mile before an enchanting glen opens up before you. Hikers are dwarfed by enormous cedars, and pillowy moss spreads out in all directions from your boots.

Soon you’ll begin climbing Big Hump. The first assault is a series of tight switchbacks on black rock dotted with colorful lichen to an overlook. This is informally known as 'Snack Rock'. Have a bite, then continue here through a large section of the 2011 Duckabush Fire.

This is where WTA work crews have made their mark. Each year, at least three backcountry response teams make the trek back here to log out hundreds of trees that fall to winter storms. In 2015, a crew even headed up for a soggy weekend in November and removed 80 trees over the course of four days!

The trail meanders through this area, then continues switchbacking uphill to the crest of Big Hump. Enjoy views from the top, and look down, on the north side of the hill. There’s a camp down there, 650 feet down and about 5 miles from the trailhead (hence its apt name, Fivemile Camp).

If you’re looking for a good picnic spot, head down there. Otherwise, take in the views and head back the way you came.

WTA worked here in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010!

Hike Description Written by
Anna Roth, WTA Staff

Duckabush River

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.6852, -123.0397 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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

From Quilcene drive Highway 101 south for 15 miles, and turn west where a large sign indicates Duckabush Recreation Area. Continue six miles down this road, though the pavement ends at 3.6 miles. You will pass a large campground five miles in, this is Collins Campground.

Six miles in, there is a sign for a horse parking area on the right. Go just past this parking area and bear right and uphill onto Forest Road 2510-060 which is not well signed and find the trailhead in 0.1 mile.

Facilities are available at the trailhead, and there is room for about 20 cars.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Olympic Peninsula > Hood Canal

Duckabush River (#803)

Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Custom Correct The Brothers-Mount Anderson

Duckabush Trail #803 Forest Service PDF Map: https://bit.ly/2Sc1bfz

Buy the Green Trails The Brothers No. 168 map

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Duckabush River

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