Staircase Rapids

This loop involves a section of an historic route across the Olympic Mountains to a suspension bridge spanning the North Fork Skokomish River near a series of thundering rapids. Cross the North Fork Skokomish on a solid bridge and follow a trail that was once part of the original O’Neil Mule Trail. In 1890 Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil accompanied by a group of scientists led an Army expedition across the Olympic Peninsula. Among his party’s many findings was a realization that this wild area deserved to be protected as a national park.

March up alongside the roiling river, passing big boulders and a series of roaring rapids. The rapids’ name come from a cedar staircase O’Neil built over a rocky bluff to get past them. Follow the bellowing river from one mesmerizing spot to another before reaching a sturdy suspension bridge spanning the wild waterway. Cross the river and complete this delightful loop by now heading downriver following the North Fork Skokomish River Trail back to the Ranger Station.