Sunday, September 23, 2012

Olympic National Park - Crescent Lake

For my birthday, I asked my family to go with me for a short hike and a bike ride up at Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park about a half hour drive west of Port Angeles.  The two destinations I had in mind were #14  and #15 in the Falcon Guide titled Best Easy Day Hikes - Olympic National Park.

On our way up there, we stopped at Fat Smitty's for lunch.  One of my shipmates told me they had the best burgers on the peninsula.  If you're headed from Kitsap over toward anywhere on the Olympic Peninsula, you can't miss it.

Right on Highway 101 there's this little shack of a restaurant with a huge chainsaw-art carving of a ginormous double-decker hamburger with all sorts of fixings on it.  I thought this squat-totem-pole of burger-worship was just an exaggeration to gather people's attention...


Their signature item, the Fat Smitty burger really is that big.  The waiter recommended it if we hadn't been there before, but didn't offer any explanation of how big it was.  The menu also offered no description to warn us of the ginormous greasy monstrosity we would be receiving off the grill.

When the waiter set them down in front of us, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, and it took a few moments to get over the shock.  The waiter said the record is 45 seconds to eat an entire Fat Smitty burger.  He recommended putting all your weight into squashing it down with your palm on top of the burger, then picking it up and not putting it down again until you were all done.  I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there was no way I could finish it. 

After lunch, we followed Highway 101 along the southern edge of the lake to Lake Crescent Lodge.  Just before the lodge is a boat ramp and a parking area for the Marymere Falls trailhead.  This was a short hike (1.5 miles round trip) and pretty easy for families with children.  Because of that, there were quite a few people there, but it wasn't crowded.

Boys being goofy on the trail.

The trail is hard-pack dirt.  It's flat most of the way and has about 80 feet of elevation gain up wood steps the waterfall viewpoint.  There are two small bridges to cross.  That plus the steps lead me to think this would not be good with a stroller, but we did see several babies in baby-backpacks.  Also, there are sturdy handrails going up the steps and at the viewpoint, so you don't have to worry too much about small children falling over the edge.



My eldest son at Marymere Falls

Blunoz Family Photo at Marymere Falls

After leaving Marymere Falls, we drove around to the north side of the lake to take our bikes on the Spruce Railroad Trail.  This was not the type of trail I was expecting.  We've been on several trails on the east coast that were converted from old railroads, such as the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail near our house in Virginia, the Great Allegheny Trail in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal towpath in Maryland, and the bike path in Wolfeboro, NH.

The Spruce Railroad Trail was built to bring sitka spruce trees to build biplanes in World War I and has since been converted to a trail... of sorts.  Not the smooth, easy for a family ride trail I was expecting though.

It was bumpy and rocky and had several dips that made it passable by mountain bike, but not for a gentle family ride.  We only went about 2.5 miles then decided to turn around and go back.

My youngest son doing the Karate Kid pose at
one of several dips that we walked our bikes across.

After returning home and looking for more information online, I found this good blog post that included pictures and mentioned how they walked their bicycles for a good portion of the trail.  Then I also found a news article that they are GOING to expand this trail into something more like the other railroad bike trails we've been on.
"The 3.5-mile trail will be upgraded to an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail with 3 feet of adjacent gravel shoulders so it’s accessible to all types of bicycles, as well as pedestrians, equestrians and people in wheelchairs.
In addition, both of the historic railroad tunnels will be reopened as part of the trail and a new segment will be built near Lyre River to bypass and mitigate the existing steep grades in that area."  (Quoted from the article linked above)

It would have been a nice easy, nearly flat trail for a hike.  I would like to go back sometime and do it on foot.

On our way back, we stopped for an awesome dinner at the Bushwhacker restaurant in Port Angeles.  This was our second time eating dinner here.  The first time, we stopped here after our hike up Hurricane Hill, and our eldest son has been asking us to go back to Port Angeles so we could eat dinner at the Bushwhacker ever since.  We weren't disappointed.  Both times we have received exceptionally good service and fantastically delicious food.  Plus, they serve a locally bottled root beer that's top notch.

Although the bike path was a little bit of a disappointment, overall it was a great day.  I'm thankful to my family for entertaining my desires for how to spend my last day as a 39 year old.  :-)

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