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Olympic National Park reopens Whiskey Bend Road, Upper Lake Mills Trail Friday

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on March 15, 2012 at 10:32 am |
March 15, 2012 10:32 am

Olympic National Park has announced that Whiskey Bend Road will reopen Friday, as will the Upper Lake Mills Trail and Upper Lake Aldwell area.

Here are the specific:

Whiskey Bend Road

Repairs to the Whiskey Bend Road are nearing completion and the road will reopen to vehicles Friday.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. The project was completed two weeks early and at a total cost of $162,000.

Upper Lake Mills Trail and Upper Lake Aldwell

The Upper Lake Mills Trail is also reopening 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; more than 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 left just west of the Elwha River bridge on U.S. 101.

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.

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