One of my favorite local hikes is the Lower Big Quilcene Trail in Olympic National Forest and a favorite destination is Bark Shanty Bridge. This popular trail is referred to by some as The Champagne Trail and for good reason. It is virtually level, no switchbacks or steep grades, just pure walking pleasure. Because of this the trail is open to bicycles, horses and motorcycles and can be relatively busy during the optimum summer months. But in May we were the only two on the trail, actually three, if I count the black bear we encountered on our way out. As we came around a bend there he was, dining on berry bushes, before catching our scent and scampering off into the forest.
The trail begins at 1400 high above the river and soon enters a steep-walled canyon. The small waterfalls and creeks were at their peek and I cant seem to pass one without photographing it. Although a little early in the season for rhododendrons to be in bloom, there were more shades of green than I could count. After a couple miles the trail descends and we could hear the song of the river before we could see it. A bit further the river appears and a bridge crosses to a flat of old-growth forest with several camping sites for backpackers. Bank Shanty Bridge is another half mile.
Arriving at the bridge we were sad to see it was damaged during this past winter by falling trees. It was covered with blue and yellow caution tape which Larry removed long enough for me to take some photos. The angle I chose barely shows the damage. We wondered about the fate of this legendary bridge and contacted the Forest Service inquiring about any plans to restore or replace it. Im happy to say theyre replacing it with similar bridge, wooden not a metal one, helping to maintain the ambiance of this special trial. Several years ago Larry did a painting of this bridge and Im happy we still have the original, its now a relic!
Here’s the link if you’d like to see Larry’s painting.
Thanks for reading.
Nancy Cherry Eifert