So what does 5 miles of freshly paved rail-trail look like? Head out to the Olympic Peninsula with your bicycle and take a look.
The newest section of the constantly expanding Olympic Discovery Trail that’s open to the public runs between Camp Creek Trailhead on Cooper Ranch Road and a forest service road that crosses the Sol Duc River on a bridge.
That’s in an area of the Olympic National Forest that’s way out in the sticks west of Crescent Lake — nearly 40 miles from Port Angeles on US Highway 101. In fact, it’s closer to Forks that Port Angeles.
Putting a paved rail-trail out there shows the commitment of Clallam County and the Peninsula Trails Coalition to create a paved, universally accessible, rail trail clear across the Olympic Peninsula. That’s a distance of about 130 miles.
This latest section of pavement, which comes with 3-foot-wide shoulders for horses, runs through several tracts of forests that appear to have been harvested at the same time. Most of the trail is straight, just like the old railroad grade that plunged deep into the lush forests here for timber.
I rode the trail last week and felt like I was one of the first to travel here. No tire marks disturbed the fallen pine needs below some trees. Later I found out the trail was completed in June.
Starting at Cooper Ranch Road, the trail heads east for 5 miles to a climb up to an unnamed forest service road, which crosses the Sol Duc River on a bridge and meets Forest Service Road 2918. That paved road connects to 101 across from the US Forest Service’s Mt. Muller Trailhead.
The trail resumes 2.1 miles east on Highway 101 at an unmarked trailhead (no parking) on the north side of the road less than a mile west of Sol Duc Road.
If you wait a couple of years, a stretch of paved trail will likely avoid this stretch of US highway with a trail paralleling the route. Like I said, Clallam County and the Peninsula Trails Council are committed to getting this done.