Located near Brinnon, Washington, the Ranger Hole Trail travels through second growth forest to the bluffs above the Duckabush River, with a view of the rapids and a deep pool in the narrow canyon. The trail is named for the pool where the Forest Rangers used to fish. The river is often a gorgeous shade of blue, but is difficult to access directly.
Spoon Rating: Four spoons. Up to 30% grades for ¼ mile, with additional short elevation changes, and few easy places to rest off of the trail. The main view is accessed over slippery boulders high on a bluff.
Trail Stats: Distance: 2 miles; Elevation Change: 200 feet; Max Grade: 30%; Max Cross-Slope: 10%; Typical Width: 2 feet; Typical Surface: natural, rocks and roots Amenities: accessible toilet, no accessible parking or picnic area, water available via hand pump, no benches along trail.
Trail Description: The trailhead is the same as the Interrorem Nature Trail. It begins at a small gravel and grass parking area at the historic Interrorem Cabin (which is available for overnight rentals; there are four steps into the cabin).
The trail begins next to an information board at the west side of the parking area; the first few feet is four-feet wide with semi-firm natural surface before reaching an accessible vault toilet. Continue straight past the toilet for the Ranger Hole Trail.
The trail begins mostly level and two feet wide, with a few roots rising above the natural surface, but it shortly begins rising and falling over a number of small hills. First you come to a slight 3% incline before the trail curves right and rises and falls over short hump at 6% grade. Then cross another short hill under a 5% grade. You will pass a large big leaf maple, and be traveling deeper into the forest with a hill covered in downed trees to the left.
Rise and fall over another couple of small hills with negligible grades, then cross a section of trail with many roots rising 2-4 inches above the surface. Curve right to another hill, with a decline of 16-20% for 10 feet before it levels out then rises steeply for approximately 50 feet at 27-30% grade. The trail levels out then comes to another steep hill with a couple of steps, at grades of 20-30% for approximately 300 feet. Continue on natural surface of soil and rocks; watch your footing as some of the rocks are large. There is another short 20-30% grade then the trail curves right and left around some trees and levels out slightly on rolling grades of 5-10%. Rise again slightly at 6% then continue back downhill.
Come to three sets of large roots to step down over. The trail curves to the right with more roots rising above the surface and then comes to a slight decline and immediately to another incline and decline that is 50 feet long. Curve to the left and take a much steeper decline at 20-30% grade. Here the trail levels out briefly, continuing through a forest of mossy hemlocks, firs, and vine maples. There is another slight 10% decline with rocks in trail; watch your footing again. The trail generally continues to roll gently at 5-10% grades with level areas in between for the next several hundred feet.
At 0.7 mile the trail starts to descend steeply for 0.25 mile towards the river canyon. The first section descends at a 30% grade and is badly washed out and rutted down the center, passing a small tree barely clinging to the hill. It is very unstable footing with loose dirt and rocks. The trail then levels out slightly for 50 feet then continues at a 20% decline with big rocks in the surface. The sound of the river draws you on. Curve right between two cedars with worn steps set into the trail; take 16 steep steps on a steep incline of 30% with no landing in between. The steps end on a wet area with water flowing along trail – watch your step as you come off the stairs. The trail then dries and levels out with lots of roots and rocks in the surface.
The first river overlook is on the left; this is the easiest place to catch a view of the beautiful turquoise blue water, but the cliffside is eroding and there is no barrier, so be careful. The trail continues level past the overlook, curves left and right with large rocks in the surface, and passes next to a large cedar and a boulder. Come to a short, uneven decline of 12% with a 10% cross slope, then level out again. There is one more slight decline before approaching the overlook for Ranger Hole, your final destination. To get a good view of the river canyon, you have to cross over rocks and step up onto boulders along the cliff, and they can be slippery when wet, so if you have vertigo or balance issues please exercise caution. There are some nice rocks to sit on and rest, enjoying the sound of the water and the view.
Save some energy to head back out the same way you came in, that decline making for a steep climb on the way back. There aren’t too many easy places to step off the trail for a rest, and no benches along the way, so take your time.
Cell Phone Reception: Spotty to none (tested on Verizon).
Pass/Entry Fee: Interagency Pass or Northwest Forest Pass. There is no payment kiosk here.
Getting There: The trailhead is located on Duckabush Rd/NF-2510. From Brinnon, WA head south on US Highway 101. In approximately 3 miles, turn right on Duckabush Rd, which is a paved two-lane road. Continue for 4 miles to the end of the pavement. The parking area is on the left.
Nearby Alternatives: Dosewallips State Park offers accessible cabins and restrooms.
Land Acknowledgement: This is the land of the sqʷuqʷóbəš [Twana/Skokomish], “People of the River”, whose traditional territory included the entire Hood Canal drainage basin in western Washington.
Last Updated: September 30, 2020