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5,699 ft
165 ft
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12
24
47.7 mi

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near Elwha, Washington (United States)

Three-day backpack to historic Dodger Point Lookout and back. Dodger Point is the last remaining lookout in the park, and was restored recently. It's not open to the public. Parked at Madison Falls, loaded most of our gear into panniers, with the rest on our backs, and biked 6.8 miles up the road to the Whiskey Bend trailhead, about a 1200-ft elevation gain. The only really hard part was the half-mile trail near the start that bypasses the road washout. It climbs pretty high on the hillside and it took some work to push loaded bikes over it. The Whiskey Bend Road was in pretty good shape. We walked our bikes on a few steeper stretches. On the way up, we stopped at the site of the now-demolished Glines Canyon Dam, and marveled at the wonder of a restored Elwha River running free through the canyon.

From the trailhead, we hiked up the Elwha River Trail to the right turn for Rica Canyon/Goblin's Gate. That trail drops steeply to the river. There were several big blowdowns on the way to Goblin's Gate, where the river constricts into a narrow jade-green chute down a canyon. After taking in the view, we headed upriver through Krause Bottom, where we encountered a number of blowdowns. We reached Hume's Ranch Cabin, which seemed to be in good repair, then dropped to Hume's Meadow Campsite, which was lovely and had a new privy. We camped at the edge of the meadow.

The second day, we got onto the Long Ridge Trail and crossed the impressive suspension bridge over the Elwha and made the 5000-foot climb to Dodger Point. The trail, about 10.5 miles long, was in remarkably good shape. There were only 3 step-over blowdowns, and it had been recently logged out. The grade was amazingly gentle, almost like a long wheelchair ramp.

We crossed one stream at 4200 feet, about 8 miles up. Near the top, the trail passes above a lovely meadow with two tarns. From the trail, we watched a bear splashing in the larger tarn for about 10 minutes. He seemed to be playing with a stick. A few yards farther up the trail, as the timber gives way to open country, we watched another bear nosing around the huckleberries. Just past there, as the trail circles around a small basin and crosses a small stream, a side trail on the left leads to Dodger Camp, which is a spacious flat clearing with a shallow pond. We made camp there, then hiked the final half mile and 300 feet of elevation up to Dodger Point Lookout. The sky was clear and the views excellent. We could see down the Elwha Valley and out across the Strait to Vancouver Island. We could see Hurricane Ridge, Obstruction Point, Mt. Anderson, Mt. Olympus, and the Bailey Range.

To the west, beyond Olympus, we could see a band of brown advancing in the sky-- smoke from fires in Oregon and California. By that night, smoke had enveloped the Olympics, and no stars were visible. The third morning was hazy, but from the campsite we had a view of the tarns and we watched 26 elk, including 5 bulls, lounging, wading, and grazing. Two of the bulls bugled at each other, while two other younger bulls playfully clacked antlers. We watched them for 15 minutes before packing up to leave. The descent to the river was long but not terribly demanding. Once on the Elwha Trail, we stopped to check out Michael's Cabin, which was also in good repair. We reached the Whiskey Bend trailhead about 4 p.m., and got back to Madison Falls on our bikes about an hour later. Our total mileage was 44.7, including 13.6 on bikes and 31.1 on foot. We saw no other hikers the entire time we were on the trail, but saw a few along the road.

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