By Bret Wirta-The Incidental Explorer
Distance: Up to ten miles Time out: 4 hours
Degree of Difficulty: 1 – Pet Friendly: yes
February 7th 2012.
Walking along the Olympic Discovery Trail from the Holiday Inn Express, Sequim to the estuary at the head of Sequim Bay was a wonderful way to spend a sunny winter afternoon.
For the most part, the Olympic Discovery Trail follows the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Paul Railway’s railroad bed from Port Townsend 130 miles to the Pacific Coast. Though there are still many miles left to complete, much of the trail is paved and well-maintained.
I walked across the street from the hotel to the trail and turned east. The wide paved path cut across a mile of open field. I walked past streams and swampy pools where life lay dormant just waiting for the spring that was soon to come. The open fields ended as I walked into the forest and onto the huge Johnson Creek Trestle.
The trestle was part of the railroad that linked towns, villages and logging hamlets along the Olympic Peninsula. According to the Olympic Discovery Trail’s website, “The Port Townsend and Southern lines were built in 1887. The Seattle, Port Angeles and Western Railway lines were laid between Port Angeles and Discovery Bay in 1914 and 1915—the year passenger rail service between Port Angeles and Port Townsend was begun, ultimately expanding westward as far as Twin Rivers.” I walked along the high, curved trestle. A sign said that the Johnson Creek Trestle is 410 feet long and 86 feet high and is the largest railroad trestle on the Olympic Peninsula.
After Johnson Creek the trail crossed Whitefeather Way there were views of Sequim Bay through the trees. It was quiet and the air was filled with the clean smell of cedar.
The trail winds though Sequim Bay State Park where there are places to rest and admire the view of the bay. Here fir trees, protected over the last century, have grown huge.
The trail joins a rural road as it passes “Grandpa’s Lavender Patch”, a tiny farm and gift shop. Ron, the owner, usually has time to stop and chat. It’s a cute place to buy a souvenir from Sequim, “The Lavender Capital of North America”.
The trail bumps along the highway at the Seven Cedars Casino. Even if you don’t like to gamble it’s a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. The salad bar was fresh and the buffet was half-price when I ate there on Tuesday.
The casino belongs to the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe. According to the tribe’s website, “In 1874 a band of S’Klallam’s under the leadership of Lord James Balch raised enough money to pay $500 in gold coin for one, two-hundred acres tract.” This land at the head of Sequim Bay became their home, and after a long legal battle, the Jamestown S’Klallam finally received federal tribal recognition in 1981.
Past the casino is the head of Sequim Bay, the estuary at the mouth of Jimmycomelately Creek. It was unclear if walking in the grass of the estuary was ok, but I did. Flocks of ducks flew across the bay. I rested on the grass with my back against an old railroad abutment. The sun was setting over the Olympics. The days were becoming noticeably longer. When spring comes this estuary must be just bursting with life. I can’t wait to come back and see for myself.
If you don’t want to walk the entire ten miles from the Holiday Inn Express, Sequim and back you can:
- Park at the gravel parking lot at Whitefeather Way. That will knock off a couple of miles.
- Park at Sequim Bay State Park. That will shorten the trip by almost half. (Don’t forget your Discover Pass)
- Ask the Holiday Inn Front Desk Manager if the Casino will drive you back to the hotel after you either eat or gamble there. That would make your journey a one-way trip.
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