Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spruce Railroad and Lake Crescent

We managed to find one of the easiest hikes within Olympic National Park--the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent.  During World War I, a 36-mile length of railroad was laid along the shore of Lake Crescent to move spruce logs to the mill.  In those days, spruce was used in the construction of aircraft.  As it turned out, the war ended before the rail line was completed.  However, it did play a roll in the logging industry following the war.

In the 1980s the Park Service converted a 4-mile section to trail.  The trail follows the shoreline, but is generally several feet above the surface of the water.  The trees are tall enough now to obstruct the views of the lake.  However, occasionally the trail will drop down and jut out to the water’s edge providing a fantastic view of the lake.
Devil's Punchbowl
This massive crescent-shaped lake lies completely within the National Park.  As low as we were today, we could not fully appreciate the crescent shape.  So far we haven’t found a trail that rises high enough above the lake to offer a complete view.  Lake Crescent stretches 9 miles in length and reaches a depth of over 600 feet.
Gene on footbridge at Devil's Punchbowl

The old railroad tunnel.  Trail goes around the tunnel.
One of the most impressive points along the trail was Devil’s Punchbowl.  The trail uses a footbridge to cross Devil’s Punchbowl and from there we could gaze down into the depths of the crystal clear water.  Our guidebook says you can see down 40 feet, but I don’t think so.  Still, it was quite impressive to see fish swimming several feet below the surface.  We were fortunate to have passed this point early in the day.  On our return trip, there must have been 75 folks enjoying the sunny afternoon dangling their feet in the punchbowl.  There were a few hearty souls actually swimming in these cold waters.

We have a hike planned for tomorrow with friends, Tony and Diana.  The weather may change that plan.  We’ll see.

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