ELWHA DESTINATIONS - ELWHA RIVER TRAIL...27.9 MILES
DIRECTIONS TO :
WHISKEY BEND TRAILHEAD - MILEPOST 239
RANGER STATION :
Toilets (Ranger station, permit registration, pay phone and water located 6 miles from trail head along Olympic Hot Springs Road). Stock Facilities: No turn around space for truck and trailer.
Lowland forest, lowland river valley. Largest watershed in the park, historic cabins. Region has well maintained trails with moderate elevation trends. Historic homesteads and meadows; opportunities to view deer, elk and bear. Region includes Boulder Lake in the Northwest Elwha region. It is a subalpine lake basin. The river contains exotic trout. Fishing is allowed. A unique feature of this region is the Olympic Hot Springs.
THE PRESS EXPEDITION
......During the fall of 1889, the year Washington became a state, the Seattle Press newspaper called for "hardy citizens . . . to acquire fame by unveiling the mystery which wraps the land encircled by the snow capped Olympic range." This call was answered by James Christie, who volunteered to organize an expedition if the Press would finance it. The Press Party consisted of six men (one of them left the expedition early; five completed the trip) whom the Press described as having "an abundance of grit and manly vim," four dogs, two mules, and 1500 pounds of supplies. This group entered the Olympics in December 1889, one of the harshest and snowiest winters in the Peninsula's history.
Christie had planned to follow the Elwha River into the heart of the mountains, transporting supplies on a large flat-bottomed boat, Gertie, which the men built. The boat leaked and had to be hauled over log jams and towed through rapids by the men, wading through deep snow along the banks or in icy water sometimes up to their chins. After twelve frigid, exhausting days, Gertie was abandoned. The party spent January - April 1890, exploring the Elwha Valley. In mid-March the explorers discovered and named Geyser Valley, where they heard sounds they thought were bubbling geysers although there are none in the valley. (James Christie predicted Geyser Valley would make "a young paradise for some venturesome squatter," and ten years later Will and Grant Humes homesteaded in the valley. The Humes cabin can still be visited today, about 2.5 miles from the Whiskey Bend trailhead.) In early May, the Press Party, their clothes in tatters and running dangerously low on supplies, crossed Low Divide and headed down the Quinault Valley, reaching the coast on May 20, 1890 after nearly six months in the mountains. As a result of the Press Expedition, many peaks bear the names of prominent newspaper publishers and editors of the late 19th century, including Mt. Meany (named after Edmond Meany, an editor of the Seattle Press), Mt. Dana, Mt. Lawson, Mt. Noyes, Mt. Scott, and the Bailey Range. Press Party blazes can still be found along the Elwha River trail in the park.
.....The Elwha Trail was the first white man's trail to be blazed across the Olympic Mountains. It was first marked by explorers of the Seattle Press Expedition, only 110 years ago, and their distinctive three-slash blaze can still be found on some trees along the route.
The path follows the river almost to its source at the Elwha Snowfinger, more than 25 miles upstream, then crosses Low Divide to link with the North Fork of the Quinault River Trail.