The Elwha River: Free at Last

Where Lake Mills used to be

The removal of the Elwha Dams drained Lake Mills. One of the concerns was with the huge amount of sediment that had been trapped behind the dams and the impact that would have on the ecology downstream. A lot of careful planning has resulted in a rapid recovery … salmon and steelhead trout have already returned to the river. Not in the huge numbers that once were present … but quicker than many thought likely.

From the photos below (less than a mile below the upper dam), you can see that the river is now running clean and clear.

Downriver from the bridge on the Olympic Hot Springs Road.
Upriver from the bridge on the Olympic Hot Springs Road.

Olympic Hot Springs Road Bike Trip

Elwha River Bridge on Olympic Hot Springs Rd.

My friend Gary and I rode our bikes up the Olympic Hot Springs Road (also known as the Elwha River Road) … these days this entails a .7 mile bypass trail around a washed out section of the road. After the bypass, there is about 6 miles of road to get to the trailhead … the hot springs are another 2.2 miles of hiking … which we didn’t hike that day.

I have hiked through this area numbers of times over the last 40 years … but this was the first visit up the road since the washout happened several years ago. It brought back memories. The additional distance has had a dramatic impact on the number of people using the area.

The next post will concentrate on the river.

Pushing the bike along the bypass trail
Happy Biker
After the Ride

Biking up the Dose

The Dosewallips Car Camp

Recently my friend Gary and I rode our eBikes up the Dosewallips Road past the washouts and up to the Dosewallips Campground … a distance of about 6.5 miles (each way). We had great weather and were just doing a day trip … although regular readers may note that another friend and I have made several trips up the road backpacking.

I carried my camera and the day was a great success, based on how much fun we had. During the bouncy ride, I lost my lens cap, but that’s why they sell extras, isn’t it?

Dosewallips Rapids/Falls
The Dosewallips Road (above the washout)
Un-named stream with a small falls

Evening on the Dosewallips River

Evening on the Dosewallips River

The Dosewallips River in early July is running high with snow melt in the high country. With our early hot weather, it is melting out quicker than expected … This image was shot from the Dosewallips Campground. There was a bend in the river that gave me a view up the valley some … I’m not out wading in the cold water.

Wandering around the Elwha Valley

The Elwha Trail above Geyser Valley
Crossing a Side Branch of the Elwha

These are old images from before the Elwha River dams were removed. The Elwha River is in the Olympic National Park and the two dams were blocking passage of salmon into some of the most pristine forest in the lower 48.

The top photo shows Jeff looking for remnants of the Press Party blazes left over from the 1890’s. We were unable to locate any on this trip, but later I found some of the distinctive markings cut into the side of old doug firs.

The lower image shows one of the side channels and using a stick to keep your feet dry. Currently, this whole area has been changed, since this was between the two dams and now subject to the whims of the river and its reworking of the stream bed and channels.

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