HIKE DESCRIPTION: Even if you hike regularly in Pack Forest near Eatonville, each experience has the potential to be different. The creeks gurgle a little louder in spring. You can sometimes find snow at higher points in winter. And with so many trails and dirt roads (about 50 miles), visitors can get creative.
Here’s a route that will give you a nice sample of the forest: Start with the popular Hugo Peak Trail near the entrance to the forest. This trail climbs about 1,000 feet and finishes by following a service road to the summit register. The view isn’t great here. It’s actually best on a clear-cut slope about halfway up.
From Hugo Peak, descend the road as you came, but turn left on 1080 Road and continue to Kirkland Pass. Here, drop onto the Trail of the Giants, where you will visit a couple of massive trees. Past the giant trees the trail gets a bit overgrown. The trail can be easy to lose at times, but finding the way is intuitive.
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The trail deposits hikers on 2000 Road. Cross the road and continue ascending via Windy Ridge Trail. This trail traces the edge of a stand of Douglas firs harvested 29 years ago and ends at an atmospheric deposition collection station. Follow 2070 Road downhill to 2000 Road and turn left.
Walk uphill and as the road crests take note of a short spur trail to the left. This leads a few feet to the high point of the forest. The view is substantially better here than it is atop Hugo Peak. A tribute to a Seattle couple is etched into a boulder.
Return to 2000 Road, turn left and continue downhill back to Kirkland Pass. Start ascending 1080 Road, but quickly find Reservoir Trail on your right. Follow this trail downhill through the forest taking time to read the interpretive signs.
At the bottom of the trail, follow 1000 Road back toward the forest headquarters. The paved road at headquarters leads to the lower parking lot and the Hugo Peak trailhead where the hike began.
DIRECTIONS: From state Route 512, take the Pacific Avenue (Route 7) exit and travel south for about 22 miles. Pack Forest will be on your left. Parking is available next to the Hugo Peak trailhead, in a lot on the left about 50 yards up the driveway and in a lot near the end of the paved driveway and the forest headquarters.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 8.3.
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,600 feet.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year-round.
MAP: Maps are available on the forest website and sometimes at the
forest headquarters and trailheads.
ALSO: Pack Forest is owned by the University of Washington. Hikes here can be easily extended or shortened. Waterfalls on the Little Mashel River are also a popular destination. Bikes and horses are permitted on the roads and some trails. The forest links to Eatonville via the Bud Blancher Trail. Pets on leashes are permitted. There are several geocaches in the forest.