A deep forest hike

I took this photo of a tributary leading down to Siouxon Creek from the wooden bridge near the start of the hike.

The main difficulty we had on our hike at the Siouxon Trailhead was finding the trail we intended to hike, which was at a different trailhead. We had a difference of opinion about where it may be, but it turned out that neither of us was right. In any case, once we floundered around for a while, we finally ended up at the Siouxon Trailhead, and a beautiful hike it was, through lush forests and along the creek. Many of our hikes have been a little on the urban side, but this one was truly a deep forest hike.

Because it took us an hour longer to get there than planned, we only went  a couple of miles down the trail. But we plan to return now that we know how to get there.

Siouxon Trail

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA

Distance: 18 miles out and back, if you go all the way (we went about four miles)

Difficulty: Tougher to do the whole trail (we didn’t go very far and found it moderate)

Panting stops: four, mainly at the end, returning to the trailhead

Elevation changes: 2076 feet, if you do the whole trail, about 300 feet on the part we did

Although my friend and I both have maps of the Gifford Pinchot Forest, we made the mistake of leaving them home. This was a mistake because we lost phone service long before we entered the park, so that the Google directions from AllTrails didn’t work to lead us to the trailhead. We were actually trying to find the North Siouxon Creek trailhead in the state forest, but the written description of how to get there on AllTrails only mentioned two of the several roads we needed to take there. However, we finally found the Siouxon Trailhead (for a different trail) just before we gave up and went home.

A view of a cataract along Siouxon Creek in an area that has some color. Most of the trees were coniferous, but we occasionally came through patches of fall color.

On the way up there, once you leave WA-503 and turn onto Healy Road, is absolutely stunning scenery, especially at this time of year, with the leaves changing. First we passed through green valleys full of cows, and then we climbed up into gorgeous mountain scenery. One you’re in the National Forest, of course, there aren’t as many wide-open views except in areas that have been heavily logged, and then the views aren’t pretty. However, the hike itself was really nice.

The trail takes you on a relatively steep downhill along a needle-covered woodland path. It is well kept and quite wide in parts, although it is occasionally rocky. The path goes over a wooden bridge (which I understand had to be replaced a couple of years ago, and there are lots of big fallen trees around it to explain why) and then down to run along above Siouxon Creek. We saw a few cataracts in the creek, and I understand that farther up, there are waterfalls. This is truly a deep woods hike, with lots of big trees all around and not many open places except by the creek. The path is fairly level for over a mile, and then it begins climbing again, which is the where the large elevation changes come in. As I said, because we spent an extra hour getting lost on the way out, we only walked in a couple of miles and then turned back. However, now that we know how to get there, we will certainly return for the beautiful hike.

Keep in mind as you go down toward the creek that you have to have enough energy on to go back up these steepish slopes on the way back!

During our Wednesday October hike, we encountered only one other hiker with dogs and two mountain bikers.

How to get there

From Vancouver or Amboy

Take WA-503 up to Chelatchie and turn right on NE Healy Road, right next to the Chelatchie store. Stay on this road, which becomes Rashford Spur Road, then Calamity Peak Road/NF-57, for 14 miles. When you get to the intersection of Calamity Peak Road and NF-5701, turn left onto NF-5701. NF-5701 dead ends at the Siouxon Trailhead.

The roads are very rough leading to and in the national park. They are paved most of the way, but the paving is broken and cracked in spots, making it difficult to drive over. The forest service website recommends using a 4WD vehicle to go to this trailhead.

Parking and facilities

There is parking for maybe 15 cars at the trailhead, This trailhead is also the head for four other trails, but there was only one other car there when we were there. There are no other facilities, except that a way down the trail, there are fallen logs and a campfire circle. You are asked to pack out any trash you take in. Dogs are allowed here. We saw no indication that a pass was required for this trailhead. There is access to the trail near the beginning of NF-5701 for horse trailers.

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