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DH43  Hoh-Clearwater Road

Non-Feature DHs:


DH26 DH51
DH2 DH27 DH52
DH3 DH28 DH53
DH4 DH29 DH54
DH5 DH30 DH55
DH6 DH31 DH56
DH7 DH32 DH57
DH8 DH33 DH58
DH9 DH34 DH59
DH10 DH35 DH60
DH11 DH36 DH61
DH12 DH37 DH62
DH13 DH38 DH63
DH14 DH39 DH64
DH15 DH40 DH65
DH16 DH41 DH66
DH17 DH42 DH67
DH18 DH43 DH68
DH19 DH44 DH69
DH20 DH45 DH70
DH21 DH46 DH71
DH22 DH47 DH72
DH23 DH48 DH73
DH24 DH49 DH74
DH25 DH50  



DH43  Hoh–Clearwater Road

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[ At A Glance] [Access ] [ On The Road ] [ DH43 ] Rate/Review ] Video/Map ]
Distance: 29.7 mi /47.8 km Traffic: Very Light

At a Glance
The Road Less Traveled can be an elusive find, at least if asphalt is a prerequisite.  So it’s time to get off your meditation cushion and onto the Corbin when you find a highway posting these kind of TIRES numbers with virtually no traffic.   Turning off at one lonely intersection of Hwy 101 and reconnecting at another, this parallel route’s main reason for being is to provide access to that spiritual retreat otherwise known as the Olympic Correctional Center.   With open straights and long, gentle curves at the northern end providing fine views of the mountains and ridges of Olympic National Park and tight twisties dominating the thickly treed south, this quiet road strikes a harmonious balance.  While we can’t guarantee you’ll discover your inner self here, you shouldn’t discover many discordant speed tax collectors, since this road is under the care of the mellow National Forest Service.  Everyone breathe together now:  Intake.  Exhaust.  Intake.  Exhaust.

From Hwy 101

North Access (mid-DH20 Forks - Kalaloch)
Look for the well-marked turnoff east onto the Hoh-Clearwater Road.  Take it.  You’re on the road.
South Access
Take the turnoff north to Clearwater.  You’re on the road.

On The Road
Sightlines aren’t an issue on the handful of long, gentle sweepers that start you out from the DH’s northern junction with Hwy 101.  While you’re running a gauntlet of thick trees, they are set well back from the wide bed of pavement.  The first of many logging signs is revealed in the patch of obvious reforestation on the left side of the road at 1.6 mi (2.5 km).  As you straighten along a plateau here, you maintain a view of snowy Mt Olympus in the distance.

The straightaway is ended by a sweeper at 2.6 mi (4.2 km), but it’s quickly followed after a few turns by another of similar length.  Heading southeast now, the road begins curving more, albeit gently, beginning at 4.6 mi (7.3 km). The scenery is pleasing, too.  As you edge ever so slightly along the bottom slopes of Mt Octopus, the blue lines of Matheny Ridge come clearly into view.

Did you check out TE-A Upper Hoh Rd before hitting the DH?    If you left your copy of Destination Highways Washington sitting on the counter of the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center’s gift shop, you can retrieve it by turning off onto Owl Creek Rd at 6.9 mi (11.1 km) and taking this partly graveled shortcut back to TE-A.   Not that you’d know that without the book, of course.

The roadway continues south, with well-separated curves taking you through thick trees.  This being the Olympic Peninsula, there’s been some serious cutting at 9.6 mi (15.4 km), though it’s surprising there isn’t more of it.  You cross the Snahapish River before a 45-mph (70-kmh) posted limit, a straightaway and a sign mark the entrance to the grounds of the Olympic Corrections Center at 11.2 mi (18.0 km).  A prison in the middle of a DH.  Maybe those National Forest Service STCs aren’t so mellow after all.

The trees are tight and thick and so are the curves as you drop into the Snahapish River Valley at 12.0 mi (19.4 km).  There are a few surprises, such as some spots of rough asphalt in the blind corners, or the one-lane bridge crossing the river at 16.1 mi (25.9 km), but with the road’s best twisties, you don’t mind giving a little on the pavement and engineering.

The great esses end once you’re over the Snahapish.  But if you want to set up camp close to them, no problem.  The turnoff to the DH’s easiest access camping, Coppermine Bottom BCG, is at 16.5 mi (26.6 km).

A couple of short straightaways intervene before the next set of corners arrive.  At 18.4 mi (29.6 km), the road twists, turns and crosses a bridge over Christmas Creek, flowing invisibly beneath the thick underbrush.  The road surface is rougher and seems narrower too, due to the overgrown shoulder and overhanging trees.  These twisties aren’t as good a gift as the earlier series either, being fewer, sweepier and more detached.  Having said that, they sure beat a lump of coal. Hoh Hoh Ho....

After another short straightaway, the road crosses the high, one-lane bridge over the Clearwater River at 20.3 mi (32.6 km). From here, the path curves gently, and fairly consistently, but there’s just too much straightness to suggest it parallels the course of the river, winding unseen somewhere beyond the trees to the right.

At 25.5 mi (41.1 km), the road narrows suddenly and dramatically and the pavement drops in quality, just as you enter the settlement of Clearwater.  No services here, unless you count the Sheriff’s Office.  If you’re in luck, his car’s there.

It takes a while to clear Clearwater, as its handful of houses are strewn along the road with no apparent interest in observing the city limits, assuming there are any.  It doesn’t matter much as the road’s pretty straight here anyway, not really curving again until it winds toward and then along the bank of the Clearwater River at 28.2 mi (45.3 km).  Someone obviously wanted to use up some extra budget money on the southern tip of this road, as evidenced by the deluxe bridge over the final crossing of the river.  The DH’s final act closes at 29.7 mi (47.8 km) at the stop sign marking the intersection with Hwy 101.

Twisted Edges
TE-A   Upper Hoh Rd (18.0 mi / 28.9 km)
Winding, blind-cornered, and often polluted with pylons, the spectacular moss-dripping rainforest for the last six miles is the main draw on this TE.  For this, you’d pay the toll.  You sure ain’t paying for the engineering.

ROUTING OPTION: On the way out, maxburners can avoid doubling back all the way to Hwy 101 by taking the Owl Creek Rd connection to the DH.

TE-B   South Shore Rd (7.9 mi / 12.7 km)
Enjoy your meal at one of Lake Quinault’s finer restaurants? This scenic route along the lake and out into the forest and farmland is a quiet, after-dinner toodle.  If you really want to challenge your digestive system, you can continue onto the gravel and loop back via the North Shore Road.  Belch.