Olympic Discovery Trail heads west

By Zorina Barker

At a time when it is the norm for government factions to not appear to be open to any sort of agreement, it is refreshing to uncover areas where not only do government agencies agree but they also are working together toward a common goal to benefit local citizens.


When the Olympic Discovery Trail is completed it will be one of the longest in the United States. The trail took another leap west during the past year, another step closer to La Push and its anticipated length of 120 miles.


Trails of this length don’t happen without agreement from many different land owners, volunteers and user groups. This is an ongoing exercise in peaceful negotiations. As it stands now, an ambitious individual could ride a mountain bike from the shore of Puget Sound in Port Townshend to the junction of the Mary Clark Road and U.S. Highway 101.


Not many homeowners would be excited to have a thoroughfare bordering their property that was not there when they bought their place. Yet the ODT passes through and around private properties and much of the terms for these easements have been negotiated by Rich James of Clallam County Parks. James also has had to gain access through public lands.


The Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation and Olympic National Park are very well aware of what James is after when he is on the line. He has become the lynchpin of the trail.


Agencies such as the FS, DNR and ONP participate as land owners who must answer to the citizens of the state and country for how the lands with which they are charged get used.

“We are happy to be a part of it and we support the county’s endeavor. The county is one of our longterm partners and this is an extension of that relationship.

There are always obstacles, but nothing we can’t overcome,” explains Dean Millett, District Ranger for the FS Pacific Ranger District.

“It is a project we support. We have to look out for lands as trust land managers, so we are primarily concerned about location. The DNR has timber sales so we are looking to places resulting in the least impact of logging versus trail use. Our relationship with this project is part partnership and part negotiations,” says Sue Trettevik, Olympic Region Manager for DNR.


For people driving to and from Port Angeles along Highway 101, a swath of concrete marked by light posts just west of Fairholm are the most visible part of this trail. This portion was paved last fall.

Signage is still incomplete and there is nowhere to go once you cross the highway going south east. To get to the Cooper Ranch Road, you have to use the lower portion of the Mount Mueller loop and cross at FS 2918 and cross the Merrill and Ring Bridge.



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