The Steam Donkey Trail: A Dosewallips State Park Highlight, 2/11/23

Describing it as a rough and tumble life barely covers what it once meant to be a lumberjack. It was dangerous and difficult work and more than one scallywag was drawn into the back breaking occupation of logging the forests of the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.  Gas powered chainsaws and heavy machinery now in use have reduced the manual labor of logging, but hard labor and multiple dangers still occupy that space.  Reading historical narratives of what it was like to work in the woods and live in the remote camps during those times presents a hard to imagine archive of a bygone era. Old photos abound and help to add color to the stories.

Steam Donkey engines for logging.

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Les and I have become quite attached to hiking the local forests and are always looking for new trails to explore. Old logging roads abound in the PNW and many have become hiking trails.  Two of them, the “Maple Valley and Steam Donkey Loop” in the Dosewallips State Park near Brinnon caught our eye.  Just the name, Steam Donkey Loop, held a certain intrigue for us. Along with “Steam Donkey Pond, Huge Cedar Snag, Lightning Strike Fir Tree, Rhody Cutoff, Izette Grade” the relatively short distances and reasonable topo elevations… we were hooked.

Evidence of earlier logging remain, and temperate rainforest reclamation is active and well.

You are never far from running water
Or interesting place names
Leo wandered onto the Phantom Creek Bridge and stopped half way across…
He abruptly turned around and made his way back to us. Something in the name of the creek or… PHANTOM wood nymphs?
All better now…
Phantom Creek
Further along the trail we came upon “ON YOUR ARSE CROSSING” another of the ubiquitous creek bridges.
Tangled downfalls abound. There is no off trail navigation in a rain forest.
Multiple waterfalls. Multiple downed trees.
The Izette Grade
The Steam Donkey Pond
Complete with functioning dam…
And an “easy” way to get back to where we parked the car…
It appears that Les enjoyed our stroll through the woods. Leo looks like he’s ready to head back to
the car and a warm lap

All in all a lovely hike. We saw several hikers on the Maple Valley portion of the trail and no one on the Steam Donkey Loop. The signage was adequate and trails well maintained, being within a State Park and all. Elevation gains and losses were reasonable. Tree roots, rocks and watercourses abound. It was clear that parts of the trail became episodic creeks at times so heavier hiking boots with goretex liners are a good idea. Light hikers are not. Hiking sticks would be helpful. Fall colors would be magnificent and hiking after a light snow with ice cleats and sticks would be interesting.

One thought on “The Steam Donkey Trail: A Dosewallips State Park Highlight, 2/11/23

  1. Hi Blair! I’m happy you and Les continue to have such great adventures.  It’s Amazing to me after your back problem.  Obviously it’s gone!Speaking of backs: mine has been pretty good as of late! Unfortunatly though,  Rick and I tested positive for Covid..  But it’s actually not too bad… just coughing and a lot of nose blowing 🤧.Keep sending those lovely pictures of the Northwest. Love and hugs,  Elaine Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


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