• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

Elwha Access Updates March 2013

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Date: March 15, 2012
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005

Whiskey Bend Road

Repairs to the Whiskey Bend Road are nearing completion and the road will re-open to vehicles this Friday, March 16.This 4.5-mile gravel road connects the Elwha Valley's Olympic Hot Springs Road to the Whiskey Bend trailhead.

Repairs were made by Cherokee Construction of Vancouver, Washington and were originally estimated to last four weeks and cost up to $190,000.Theproject was completed two weeks early and at a total cost of $162,000.

Upper Lake Mills Trail & Upper Lake Aldwell

The Upper Lake Mills Trail is also re-opening to the public.The trail begins near the Whiskey Bend trailhead and once led to the southern end of the Lake Mills reservoir.With 60 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam gone and the reservoir significantly lower, the trail now provides foot access to the wide delta of gravels and sand that accumulated in that area.

The Upper Lake Mills Trail was closed just before the beginning of dam removal because of concerns that the exposed sediments would be unstable and unsafe for pedestrians.

"As the reservoirs have dropped, we've seen that the gravel sediments are more stable than anticipated," said Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Todd Suess."We're very pleased to invite people to visit these newly exposed lands and see Elwha River Restoration first-hand."

Visitors are urged to use caution when walking in the former reservoirs as there are steep banks and areas of deep mud.

People are also asked to avoid stepping on any plants; over 30,000 native plants were planted by revegetation crews this winter, and additional plants are self-sowing and adding to the restoration.

The south end of the former Lake Aldwell has also become a wide, gravelly delta and is open for foot travel only.Vehicles, including ATVs and ORVs, are not allowed.The Elwha River within the Lake Aldwell area is closed to all boating.Submerged stumps, logs and boulders, along with ongoing construction work present significant hazards and have led to the boating closure.

Foot access to the former Lake Aldwell is available by using the Lake Aldwell Road, turning north just west of the Elwha River bridge on U.S. Highway 101.

Construction Areas and Boating Within Former Reservoirs Remain Closed

With the exception of the Upper Lake Mills Trail and upper Lake Mills delta, all areas west and downhill of the Whiskey Bend Road are closed to public entry.The Elwha River within the Lake Mills area is closed to all boating. Safety hazards including heavy construction equipment and the 140-foot dam necessitate these closures.

The Lake Aldwell area north of the 'gooseneck' remains closed, as does the construction area around the former Elwha Dam.Specific closure information and a map are available at http://www.nps.gov/olym/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm

Webcams of the dam removals are available through the Olympic National Park website (http://www.nps.gov/olym/) or directly at http://www.video-monitoring.com/construction/olympic/js.htm and provide updated images throughout daylight hours.

More information about Elwha River Restoration, including weekly updates, is available at the Olympic National Park website, nps.gov/olym and at facebook/elwhariverrestoration.

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