6 total miles of Olympic Discovery Trail to be paved

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A 6-mile portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail will be paved this summer and fall in a $1 million project west of Lake Crescent that will bring hikers and bicyclists in close proximity to the Sol Duc River — and extend the trail closer to Forks.

The three Clallam County commissioners unanimously approved construction plans Tuesday for the trail's four segments, which will be funded with a $980,000 federal grant and $68,000 from the county road fund.

It will connect with an existing trail south of Mount Muller, extend a half-mile south to the Sol Duc River, then extend 5.5 miles west along the Spruce Railroad Grade before ending up at the Camp Creek trailhead at Cooper Ranch Road, just 20 miles east of Forks.

“It's another major segment of the Olympic Discovery Trail,” said Commissioner Mike Doherty, who represents the West End.

The Olympic Discovery Trail extends about 130 miles from the Quileute tribe's reservation in LaPush on the Washington coast to downtown Port Townsend.

About 40 miles is paved. Twenty-six miles of that is from Port Angeles to Sequim, Doherty said.

A 6.5-mile paved section now extends from west of the Spruce Railroad Trail to the top of Fairholm Hill.

A 1.5-mile extension is being paved this summer from the top of Fairholm Hill to a safe crossing at U.S. Highway 101 that will be completed in September, county Transportation Program Manager Rich James said Tuesday.

It will connect with the existing trail south of Mount Muller and the new extension that will be built beginning around September and completed in November.

“As far as riding a bike, you can spend a whole day enjoying this center section of our county,” James said.

The newest section is “very scenic as well as historic,” James said.

“You'll be traveling along the Sol Duc River, see it at multiple locations, and you can actually get down to fish in it,” James said of the new extension, which will have about three places where cyclists and hikers can see the river after it actually crosses the winding waterway.

“A lot of it is through mature, second-growth timber,” he said.

“It's basically taking you from the Sol Duc River to Camp Creek trailhead at Cooper Ranch Road, 20 miles east of Forks,” he said.

That connects with paved, low-volume Mary Clark Road, which is also part of the Olympic Discovery Trail — and should bring trail enthusiasts to 10 miles east of Forks.

“We are actually starting to arrive at our western terminus points, which are Forks and LaPush,” James said.

The Spruce Railroad Grade, which is gradually being transformed into the Spruce Railroad Trail, was built during World War I as a logging railroad to get spruce out of the woods for production of World War I biplanes.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 17. 2013 5:23AM
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