The main Staircase parking lot has access to several trails in the North Fork of the Skokomish River area of the Olympics.
The Shady Lane Trail and the Staircase Loop Trail are short trails along the river. “These make for great family hikes or can be the beginning of bigger objectives beyond the crowds,” says the author of Adventure Running, Exploring Olympia’s Trails Mathias Eichler. The Shady Lane Trail easily connects to a steep, short lollipop route up Copper Creek.
The Wagonwheel Lake Trail is super steep, ascending 3,300ft. In 2.9 miles. It leads to a small, bland lake. Continue climbing another 800 ft. to a boot path and reach Cub Peak.
Another route from the Staircase Loop Trail heads further upstream toward Flapjack Lakes. It rises to Gladys Divide and takes the boot path to Mt. Gladys. “You’ll be glad you did because the views of the Sawtooth Ridge are phenomenal,” declares Eichler. This journey is 25 miles and 5,500ft of vert.
“If you don’t have enough, you can drop back down from Flapjack Lakes and take the junction to Black and White Lakes for a few more miles,” says Eichler. (There’s also a backcountry, bushwhacking traverse you can do from the summit of Mt. Gladys to Black and White Lakes to complete the loop.)
Head along the North Fork Skokomish trail via Camp Pleasant, Nine Stream Camp, and up toward Home Sweet Home for a massive adventure. This will connect to the Upper Duckabush. Then, take the Duckabush trail down via Tenmile Camp and Big Hump. This popular backcountry loop traverse is about 33miles and 4,500ft. of vert. “One challenge with this route is that you end up in a different valley over an hour north, and you need to figure out transportation back,” asserts Eichler.
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