Long Creek Trail - Abandoned Trail
While climbing Mount Fitzhenry during the winter of 2013, our climbing group came across a trail on the mountain side that didn't appear on any of our maps. It was quite apparent that this was no game trail. You could look in both directions and see that the trees had been removed long ago and a wide swath of space existed on each side of the tread. Surprisingly, the tread was visible with brush overgrowing but not completely overgrowing the trail. The grade was around 20% as it traversed the side of the hill, climbing in a southerly direction. It seemed reasonable to assume the trail must originate in the Geyser Valley to the north.
Knowing a bit about the history, one can start to draw many assumptions about this trail. With the homesteaders in the valley settling around the late 1800's, could this be a trail originally built by them. Was it for mining, hunting, or was the National Park Service ever involved?
The mystery got even more interesting when you think that the homestead nearest to the beginning of the trail was "Doc" Luddens Homestead. He was an industrious man who was well known for his bees. He became known for his honey from wild roses, avalanche lilies, clover and wild honey-suckle. Where was the quickest access to alpine meadows for extra bee hives? Answer: In the high hills of the Bailey Range behind his homesite. Also consider that at the head of the valley that this trail is traversing, is Ludden Peak, a summit with his name. Then consider old maps show a trail dropping from Ludden Peak down the valley in the direction of the Ludden Homestead.
My suspicions were confirmed with the finding of the 1936 Forest Service Map showing there was indeed a trail from the Geyser Valley up the Long Creek Valley to the summit area of Ludden Peak.
WillhiteWeb.com - Washington Hiking & Climbing
Distance: Unknown miles
Elevation Gain: Unknown
1957 Park Map showing trails in the area
This article was published by True West magazine in June of 1973. Some of the information helps us understand "Doc" Ludden, his homestead and the type of person he was.
ELWHA'S FEUDING HERMITS
Location where we came across the trail.
"Doc" Ludden Homestead
Much of this information comes from a website memorializing Elder Bob. Lets hope this site is online in perpetuity but since websites rarely are, I have taken some of the info for this page. If Elder Bobs decedents keep the site active, you can find it at:
"Doc" Ludden Homestead
1948 Map of the area
Above: Old maps show the trail dropping into the Long Creek Valley from Ludden Peak
Cropped from the 1935 USGS 15 minute (1:62.5k) Mount Olympus quadrangle
Old crossing near Goblins Gate
This map is the only one I found so far showing the entire Long Creek Trail fromGeyser Valley to Ludden Peak. By the 1948 map on the right, it shows the trail ending just above Geyser Basin.
The east end of the Geyser Valley trail is obvious, shortly after the bridge crossing of the Elwha. But, it is reported to be overgrown to non-existent once you get to the valley floor.
One of the first maps showing the Oneil trail going into the Elwha area