Laet summer rapids on the Skokomish River make for pretty pictures. Trails allow access to the river shore for pictures and enchantment in the canyon.
The Staircase Rapids Trail is a 2-mile loop through relatively flat and easy terrain, on the southeast side of Olympic National Park.
During the summer, the National Park Service operates a ranger station and a campground along the North Fork of the Skokomish River.
The trail leaves from the ranger station and ventures counter-clockwise (or clockwise) towards a new bridge that replaces the old one destroyed in storms in 2007. A new bridge was built by MACNAK Construction for $1.2 million and now completes the loop again after years of weather related closures to the area.
To get to Staircase, take Highway 101 from Olympia to Hoodsport and drive about 15 minutes up Highway 119 (otherwise known as North Lake Cushman Rd.) until you come to Forest Service Rd. #24 where you will take a left and drive to the end of the road.You'll see numerous campgrounds but the road ultimately dead ends at Olympic National Park's Staircase Ranger Station and a campground with about 50 sites.
The Park Service Visitor Center is only operated through Labor Day, but the area is accessible most of the snow-free year.During the high summer months, the National Park Service has a $15 entry fee which can be covered by some federal recreation passes.
After crossing the bridge, the trail stays near the Skokomish River for views of a pounding drop in elevation to include noisy rapids and some modest waterfalls.There is a lot of access to beaches and the water itself for enjoyment on a hot day in the late summer, but caution must be taken with the fast current.
Staircase is also good rainy day hike. One should feel perfectly at home hiking in the old growth forest next to the noisy river in a native rainfall or mist.Hikers pass through deep forests and are less exposed to the elements than on say nearby Mt. Elinoir or Mt. Rose.
Staircase is a beautiful, yet simple deep canyon hike that can be enjoyed within a short timeframe or nearby trails can be used for an expanded hike.