Lower Gray Wolf River - Moderate Hike

Plan on getting the first ferry from Edmonds.  Carpools can be arranged.
Lower Gray Wolf River
Roundtrip 8.4 miles Elevation Gain 800 ft Highest Point 1500 ft
Old growth
Wildf lowers/Meadows
Established campsites
User info
Good for kids
Northwest Forest Pass required
Perfect for a winter leg-stretcher or a spring woodland f lower hike, this easy trail will appeal to most hikers, young and old. Through groves of old-growth conifers, over cascading creeks, and hugging the lush banks of the Gray Wolf River, the trail marches up a quiet canyon in the Buckhorn Wilderness. Plenty of good picnic sites, too, can be found along the tumbling, churning river. And there's always an excellent chance of spotting a big critter along the way.

A new beginning and an abrupt ending have changed this trail considerably since the 1990s. From the small parking lot, start downhill on new trail, formerly a logging road. A series of slides forced this reroute. The new trail starts away from the river, but its slope-side route provides some nice views of Maynard Mountain and the portal to the Gray Wolf Canyon.

After 0.5 mile of gentle walking, enter mature forest. The Cat Creek Loop Trail takes off to the left. An alternative route, it drops steeply through an ancient cedar grove, and then follows a portion of the old Gray Wolf Trail to return to the main trail about 0.5 mile farther. It's worth the walk, increasing the sweat factor only slightly.

The main trail leaves the old roadbed, entering a cool old-growth forest of fir and hemlock and accelerating its drop to the river. At 1.5 miles enter the Buckhorn Wilderness, the river growing louder. Finally reach the wild waterway and traverse a sun-kissed bottomland that invites naps and snack breaks.

At 2.5 miles leave the river bottom to climb diagonally up a steep hillside. A few breaks in the trees provide views up to lofty Gray Wolf Ridge and down into the canyon. Dropping back to river level, feel a cool breeze embrace you as the trail heads along the surging waterway. At 3.5 miles, after some of the nicest riverside hiking on this side of the Olympics, the trail once again climbs a steep hillside.

Enjoy good views of the Gray Wolf crashing through a tight canyon gorge. Make your way back to river bottom, and at 4.2 miles call it quits as the trail ends at a narrow gorge that once housed a high bridge. Noted Olympic guidebook writer and legend Robert Wood once observed, "The bridge was built high enough to preclude its destruction from floods."This was probably the only time Mr. Wood wasn't correct-a torrent in the early 1990s washed it away.

Fording the river here is extremely dangerous. If you want to further explore the Gray Wolf Valley, use the Slab Camp Creek Trail. But that's for another time. Right now, sit by the lovely waterway, letting its rapids mesmerize and its resident dippers entertain you.
Driving Directions:

From the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge, drive State Route 104 to its end and veer north onto US 101. Proceed 16 miles and turn left onto Louella Road (just before reaching the Sequim Bay State Park entrance). In 1 mile turn left on Palo Alto road continuing for 6 miles to a junction. Bear right at a junction onto Forest Road 2880. The road descends and crosses the Dungeness River, coming to another junction in 1.7 miles. Turn right on FR 2870, cross the Gray Wolf River, and arrive at the trailhead after 1.8 miles. (Alternatively, from US 101 west of Sequim, turn left/south on Taylor Cutoff Road, turn right on Lost Mountain Road, and then turn left on FR 2870 and drive 5.5 miles to the trailhead.)

Dogs are required to be leashed on this hike. If you decide you want to unleash your dog, it must be under voice control, stay on the trail, and away from leashed dogs. Give your self and dog adequate space from others. Please respect other hikers on the trail and restrain your dog when approaching or being approached by others. This will be the first meeting for many of the dogs, so let them get acquainted slowly as we walk. It takes time to form a pack. Not all dogs want to be greeted exuberantly, so take care and precaution. Also, dog waste needs to be buried (6 inches) or carried. Leaving along the trail to be picked up later is an eyesore for others , even in a bag,(especially with the number in our group) and is sometimes forgotten on the way out.





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  • Gretchen

    Unbeatable weather, fine company and beautiful trail. Thanks, Kathy, for leading this hike!

    December 3, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    Oh my gosh! We found the sun. Nice day for a hike on a beautiful trail with fabulous women and their dogs. The trail was a little wet and mucky in places and we weren't able to make it all the way to the end because of an unstable bridge, but we still put in 7 miles and had the trail to ourselves until almost the very end. May have to retry this on a dry summer day and go under the bridge to the end. Well worth the ferry ride and the drive, which was very scenic in itself. Thanks Gretchen and Albina for risking the iffy weather and sharing a wonderful day.

    December 3, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I ma have to cancel my hike ..don't count on me some things have come up

    November 30, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    Michele, seeing as you are coming from Port Townsend. Do you know if there is a good spot on Hwy 101 around Sequim where we could meet and caravan to the trailhead for those not taking the ferry?

    November 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    i am thinkingg about joining in will everyone bbe there around 9:30?

    November 26, 2012

    • Kathy L.

      I think we should be at TH about 9:30ish. I will email details Friday with my cell phone. Hope to see you there.

      November 28, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    Deborah, if we get the 7:10 ferry we should be TH at about 9:30i think. I will update closer to the date when we have some idea what the weather will be like. I email a day or two beforehand as well to confirm everything and give out my phone #

    November 9, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      OK not a problem I'll be there.

      November 9, 2012

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