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Big Creek holding onto its original bridges

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Big Creek Campground has officially reopened. Besides offering more sites and new landscaping, the campground has new restrooms and will soon have electric hookups as well.

Of course the campground trails were widened, leveled and improved — to the point of being wheelchair accessible on a main section of the inner loop.

For anyone wishing to hike the 4.2-mile main loop to the confluence and back, however, be aware that the temporary south access point has been closed.

This is the access trail right off Highway 119, just beyond the bridge, which used to bring you back to your car when you parked across from the campground entrance.

That's closed. You can now park at the former trailhead inside the campground, which has been expanded and now requires a $5 Forest Service pass, which you can purchase on site.

While the campground — and trails are vastly improved, a drinking well or water fountain would have been a great idea to include near the trailhead. Sadly, this was overlooked.


Last week I took the north loop, staying on the campground side of the new Big Creek footbridge, and following the widened trail until it said goodbye to Big Creek with a last view of an immense deadfall pile of twisted timber strewn across the creek.

Here the trail hooks right and begins to climb, following the same ridge that cars ascend on their way to Mount Ellinor. Alder grows abundantly along the entire loop, mixing with second-growth fir and cedar.

The climb is steady but very moderate. Because it is so close to the Hoodsport visitor center, the trail is often recommended for visitors who want something nearby, as well as something they can finish in a couple of hours.

This trail is also very popular for locals who want to run their dogs, their kids, or their grandparents on a well-maintained trail with a moderate incline.


This July, let three chief features inspire you to hike the Big Creek Trail.

Starting about a half-mile up the north loop you'll come to an extended section of native blackberry mixed with salal. These are the small but very tasty blackberries that entwine along the forest floor.

This rich, thick blackberry zone stretches well over a quarter-mile. The fruit should be ripe in a couple of weeks, perhaps less. You can fill a bucket with your catch here.

As the trail crests around 1,800 feet, it passes over five creeks that join together. Crossing first an unnamed, seasonal creek, then Skinwood, Parallel, Big and Branch Creeks, the trail includes some of the finest classic wooden footbridges still standing in Olympic National Forest.

Each bridge reflects a unique solution to that particular creek's flow and construction challenges Hats off to the Mount Rose Trail Crew for working hard and artfully to maintain each original structure. Simply stand on the upper Big Creek footbridge and note the labor involved with securing river rock inside wire fencing to buttress its foundation.

As much as the trail's bridgework will cause you to pause, so do the many smaller plank bridges and newly added viewing benches. Overall, the loving detail work and constant upkeep of Big Creek Trail instills hikers with a magical sense that they follow a Hobbit trek with surprises at every turn.

As an example, keep your eyes peeled for the famous troll lurking beside the bridge over Skinwood Creek.

Lastly, (and now that Webster has included "bouldering" as an official verb) we can recommend the confluence of Big and Branch creeks as a great place to rock scramble once both creeks draw down lower.

Currently our current is too strong.

But pick a hot day in July, pick some berries on your way to the confluence, then have a full picnic on some sunny rocks before you boulder upstream or downstream to find that perfect, private wading pool.

The Northwest is full of such simple pleasures.

Mark Woytowich is a writer, photographer and video producer who lives in Potlatch. He can be reached at

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: June 16, 2016

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