Trail:Dungeness-Gold Creek Loop
From Evergreen Trail Guide
How about a ride that has a little of everything? There’s smooth and wide, rocky and exposed, up and down(repeat), logging road climb, fast descents, remote location, rushing river, old growth, and some definite hike-a-bike(you can avoid most of this with a start variation). It begins with a roly poly up and down eventual descent to the Dungeness River. Once near the river you have some incredible old growth rain forest riding to a concrete bridge (the nominal half-way point). A logging road climb of over 1,000 vertical feet brings you to the Gold Creek Trail. This trail hugs the side of Dirty Face Peak – fast and smooth in places and very exposed in other spots, you’ll wish you had your seatbelt fastened. After some exhilarating downhills don’t think the climbing has stopped because this trail still has some steep short lungbusters ahead. Eventually you will start switchbacking down down down to the river and the road and the 1 mile(uphill) back to the car.
How to find it
There was a major washout in 2000 which makes most of the directions in the riding guidebooks obsolete.
From Sequim, drive east 3 miles on Hwy. 101. Turn right onto Palo Alto Road.
From Puget Sound, follow Hwy. 101 west, 2 miles past 7 Cedars Casino. Just before Sequim Bay State Park, turn left onto Louella Road. This road climbs steeply for 1 mile and ends at Palo Alto Road. Turn left onto Palo Alto Road.
Climb Palo Alto Road for 6 miles, passing Louella Guard Station and through two 90-degree turns to a fork in the road at FS28. Bear right here, staying on the paved Palo Alto Road for another 0.4 mile.
To Lower Dungeness trailhead: At the "Dungeness Trails ->" sign, turn right onto Road #2880, a steep, one lane dirt road signed "10 mph". In 1 mile, cross a concrete bridge and pass Dungeness Forks Campground. In another mile, at the Gray Wolf road intersection, continue straight ahead uphill on Road #2870 and follow it for 3 more miles to the next major road junction. Turn left here onto the unsigned spur Road #230 and follow the road downhill 1 mile to the trailhead parking area. The road ends here in a parking area loop. The Lower Dungeness trailhead (start) is on your right, the Gold Creek trailhead (return) on your left at the steel gate.
To East Crossing trailhead: At the "Dungeness Trails" sign, remain left on the paved Palo Alto Road 1 mile to the end of the pavement. Continue 0.3 miles on gravel FS28 road. Turn right into the large, unsigned parking area. This trail is on the decommissioned FS2860 roadbed, and adds 3 miles each way (6 miles roundtrip) to the biking loop.
Trails are typically open from late March through November or later, depending on snowfall. Short sections may be muddy in winter and early spring. The Dungeness in the rainshadow of the Olympics, and may be dry when most other areas of Western Washington have showers.
06-20-14 Both Lower Dungeness and Gold Creek Trails have been cleared of windfall logs. Salal is overgrowing the upper half of the Gold Creek Trail; only a narrow singletrack is open but tread is in good condition. New sign near midpoint of Gold Creek Trail at the Pacific Northwest Trail junction (FS2830 trail conversion, Sleepy Hollow-Gold Creek section, also an excellent biking singletrack from the Mt. Zion trailhead).
07-01-13 Tread was rebuilt across both rootball tipouts.
03-31-13 East Crossing Trail cleared of windfall; Lower Dungeness Trail cleared of windfall but has two rootball tipouts between River Shelter and upper trailhead which can be stepped across; slide areas are stable; Gold Creek Trail reported clear by hikers.
07-02-12 New 3 O'Clock Ridge Trailhead sign installed by USFS.
05-27-12 All roads open. Lower Dungeness and 3 O'Clock Ridge trail have been cleared; Gold Creek trail is reported clear. East Crossing (former FS2860) trail corridor also cleared & reopened. Gold Creek footlog is failing but remains usable. The 3 O'Clock Ridge trailhead sign is missing, but the signpost is still there.
6-30-2011 Gold Creek trail switchbacks were improved by Pacific Northwest Trail Association. Lower Dungeness trail slide area (noted below) tread rebuilt by Washington Trail Association, tread in other areas rebuilt by Gray Wolf Trail Crew. East Crossing trail huge windfall fir cleared by Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.
11-30-2010 Sleepy Hollow Creek footbridge constructed by Gray Wolf Trail Crew.
06-04-2010 Rode the hike-a-bike option. Trail started off looking nice and tacky but quickly turned in to a muddy mess. Certain parts of the trail hold up very well, but you go thru many different conditions in 19 miles. Nice compressed trail in some areas, muddy in others and very clay like conditions in others. Only a couple downed trees on the whole trail. Looks like someone recently cut a few big ones off the trail. All rive crossings were passible.
03-21-2010 Both in good condition except as noted below. The final turn from 2870 to the trail head is now signed with a spur number 230. Previously marked 2860. There is a newish footbridge with handrail crossing Gold Creek just before the end.
02-16-10 Lower Dungeness has taken a bit of a hit from the shelter to the bridge. River has gouged out a new route and toppled several trees in the process. Also some blow down but just in a couple of places. Overall Gold Creek is in good shape apart from the switchback area that has become pretty gnarly with deep ruts and exposed rocks.
10-1-09 Overall trail is in great shape. A few small downed trees here and there, but otherwise in perfect shape.
7-5-08 Dungeness has been cleared. Gold had two small trees on it but no issue. Tread was firm on both.
Trail cleared and in good shape. Jackd49 20:32, 4 August 2007 (PDT)
Does anyone know the current condition of the trail? Is it rideable this early in spring? cshtauralrets 2008-04-01
Eight of us rode this 6-8-08 on a misty, cold day. Lots of blowdowns on Dungeness going up, but passable. Gold Creek (down) is clear (2 tiny blowdowns) and all snowfree with good trail quality. It's time to ride it. -Cary
From the East Crossing trailhead: Trail follows the decommissioned FS2860 roadbed 3.4 miles to the Lower Dungeness trailhead. First mile is a gradual descent to Eddy Creek, site of road washout. Walk down a short steep section and ford the creek. Trail continues 1/2 mile, where a fork to the right leads 1/4 mile to former East Crossing campground, a beautiful campsite on the Dungeness River. Trail continues a scenic mile alongside the Dungeness River to join the Gold Creek trail at the concrete bridge, 0.3 miles below the Lower Dungeness trailhead.
From the Lower Dungeness trailhead: From the parking lot find the trail and begin! The first 3 miles have lots of steep ups and downs- note that you will be riding a counter clockwise route of this loop. You will also be walking parts of this steep up and down trail. There is a GREAT viewpoint near the end of this 3 mile grunt. (Many people avoid this hike-a-bike part by riding up the road from the parking lot and turning left at the T. Follow the main road to the 3 O’clock Ridge Trail on the left. As you are descending the road, this trail is very easy to miss. There is a photo of this trail turnoff in the images. From the parking lot it is 4.3 miles. Take this trail down ½ mile to intersect the Dungeness River Trail and turn right at the junction.) Note- If you miss the trail you will continue down the FS road until you reach the Dungeness River Trail @ Royal Basin junction- (Just follow direction in next paragraph if that happens!). In a couple of miles you will come to a shelter and be right next to the river. Follow the trail 2 more miles and come to the bridge and the large parking lot and pit toilet and popular Royal Basin trailhead.
Cross the bridge, veer left and begin the road climb. This road ascends then descends to a bridge where the real climbing begins. After about 4 miles of road you will come to a trailhead/parking lot, soon after a sharp switchback in the road. You will see the start of the Gold Creek Trail on the left. Basically, follow this trail all the way down to the valley floor, 7 miles away. Nice downhills mixed with short, humbling climbs. Save some gas for this section! You will come to one fork, stay left on the main trail. When you reach the valley floor cross over the concrete bridge to the left (formerly road 2860 from East Crossing Campground) and begin a 0.3 mile moderate climb back to the gate and parking lot.
Local Points of Interest
Here you might list nearby places to get a bite to eat, nearby bike shops, etc.
Those looking to extend their time on the Olympic Peninsula into a full weekend ought to consider doing this ride on Saturday, then heading northwest to the Lake Crescent area to ride the Mount Muller trails the following day. Both rides are well worth the trip and there are numerous camping opportunities near both trails.
This is for information about the trail's history with respect to mountain biking.
Landowner is USFS Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District, Quilcene.
The East Crossing trail segment (former FS2860 road) is proposed as an official system trail, which would allow its continued maintenance, and improvements at the Eddy Creek crossing. USFS will survey this proposal in 2012.
Trails are maintained entirely by volunteers with the Gray Wolf Trail Crew, Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, Pacific Northwest Trail Association, and Washington Trails Association.