Let that sink in; it’s not just any water. The view is from sea-level to over 10,000 feet; otters, eagles, whales and all!
The trail starts at water’s edge in historic Port Townsend where you may see Washington State’s official ocean going vessel; the Lady Washington, the impressive Adventuress, or any number of fascinating wooden vessels. Port Townsend has a rich history in wooden boats, from hand-built kayaks to planked vessels large enough to seamingly rule the seas.
Further on you’ll find four miles of shoreline trail along the Strait of Juan de Fuca offering views of Port Angeles Harbor and even Canada! The trail continues another two miles through the city’s downtown waterfront and along Marine View Drive past lumber and paper mills before it turns away from the shoreline.
Further west, within Olympic National Park,the route continues along the historical Spruce Railroad grade for 6 miles at spectacular Lake Crescent’s north shore. Along this section the Mcfee Tunnel was opened in July of 2017. A highlight on the more remote western track to the Pacific Ocean, which comes for the persistent.
To arrive at the Pacific Ocean, near the most NW point of the US is an awesome thing, no other trail provides. For some it’s as simple as that, from the Salish Sea to the Pacific; an awesome undertaking. …there’s much more.
Trestles and Tunnels
Five original Railroad trestles have been converted for trail use. Three of them are over 400 feet long. The highest is 85 feet above the streambed and was curved to increase stability.
Its original fire barrel stations have been converted to viewing platforms so users can see the structure and, in season, spawning salmon below.
The new 780-foot trestle over the Dungeness River connects to a rare wooden truss bridge. The surrounding Railroad Bridge Park has river walks and an Audubon Center with an outstanding collection of local wildlife.
As mention before, the incredible McPhee tunnel was opened in July of 2017 and the second nearby tunnel will also be revived eventually.
Rivers and Bridges
The trail runs along a coastal plain with the Olympic Mountain Range on the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the north. Rainfall from moist winds off the Pacific Ocean falling in the mountains as snow feeds north flowing streams.
Almost 40 streams and rivers cascade from the Olympic Mountains across the trail route.
An equal number of bridges vary from the spectacular to the quaint. They include a historical timber truss bridge across the Dungeness River, a suspended trail bridge high above the Elwha River, and a 210’ trail bridge across Dry Creek. Bridge costs have stimulated creative reuse, including a 93 foot RR flat car, a ferry loading ramp, and a covered ships loading ramp across Bagley Creek.
The Pacific Northwest Forest
Mature forests of Fir, Hemlock, and Cedar provide a canopy for many miles of the Olympic Discovery Trail. The distinctive ever-green nature of PNW runs true throughout the Olympic Discovery and Olympic Adventure Route.
The remote western route of the ODT passes through tall and some managed forests before reaching the awe of the Pacific Ocean.