Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ohanapecosh Hot Springs and Silver Falls

Following my hike into Martha Falls, I started driving east again. I passed by yesterday’s Box Canyon trailhead and kept going. All along the way were scenic views of waterfalls, flowers, and mountains:
I passed the trailhead to the Grove of the Patriarchs, which would be my last hike of this trip, and headed south towards the very pleasant looking Ohanapecosh Campground. There, by a beautiful greenish river of the same name, was the start of the three mile loop trail to the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs and Silver Falls.
The hot springs used to be used commercially, but have since been restored to their natural state. They are a clear reminder of the area’s volcanic origins, and continuing volcanic activity. Their vivid colors reminded me a bit of the hot springs in Yellowstone which I saw in 2005.
From here, the trail continued on along the river at times and always through the forest towards magnificent Silver Falls. Most of the time, I could hear the river even when it was not visible. The trees were large and the path easy, with about 500 feet of climbing over a mile and a half, according to my GPS. Unlike some of my other hikes, there were lots of people walking to and from the falls.
I asked a few people if the falls were nice and they said they were beautiful. It was no exaggeration. My pictures cannot do them justice.

The Ohanapecosh shot through a lovely gorge just after Silver Falls. It was quite picturesque!

At this point, the trail continued for almost a mile along the river to connect with the Grove of the Patriarchs nature trail. I was so tempted to keep on hiking, but my late start and other hikes meant that I had barely enough time to finish this hike, drive to the Patriarchs trail, hike it quickly, and start heading for the car return facility near the Seattle airport. I had calculated needing to leave by 5:30 at the absolute latest to have a margin of error to get to the airport in time. So I reluctantly headed back along the return loop to the south, rather than the connector trail to the north. Oh, for just one more hour to hike here! I know from the guide description that it would have been beautiful! My return along the forested trail was in solitude. I encountered no one, and no wildlife, on the hike through the lovely forest.
Here is a topo map showing this hike (southern track) and my next and last Rainier hike, the Grove of the Patriarchs (northern track).

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