Rugged Ridge Trail is a 5.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Forks, WA that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.
A 6 mile tound trip to the South Fork Calawah River. This is a fragment of the old Snider-Jackson Trail of Forest Service days. The trailhead (1000 ft/305 m) is located in the national forest on FS Road 2913, 2.2 mi/3.5 km beyond its intersection with FS Road 29. Rugged Ridge, the divide between the Sitkum River and the South Fork Calawah. forms the national park boundary in this area. Higher in the east, where its elevation exceeds 3000 ft/914 m, the ridge peters out near the confluence of the two streams. The trail begins in western hemlock forest and crosses Rugged Ridge almost at once, where it enters the national park (0.2 mi/0.3 km; 1200 ft/366 m). Here it goes through stands of slim Douglas-firs as it traverses a spur that extends from Rugged Ridge toward the South Fork Calawah. The trail crosses a half dozen little streams between the park boundary and the spur's crest, the forest changing until it becomes mostly silver fir and western hemlock. The growth of sword ferns and moss, is luxuriant; salmonberry and devils club form thickets by the streams. The trail is not steep, but it goes up and down to cross the creeks, with intervening level sections. At the fourth stream, waterfalls are present both above and below the trail. Upon rounding the end of the spur (1.6 mi/2.6 km; 1350 It//* 11 in), the trail attains its high point. Here it turns eastward and makes a steep descent to the South Fork Calawah, crossing three streams along the way. The third one is picturesque a stone wall on the far side is covered with various kinds of ferns. Above the trail arc Seven Step Falls, a multiple cascade, and another wall shingled with ferns. Trilliums bloom here in May. The South Fork Calawah River (3.0 mi/4.8 km; 745 ft/227 m) is not bridged, but one can cross easily in late summer or fall, either by wading or stepping from one boulder to another. During the winter or spring, when the water is high, the stream is dangerous, and one must find a log spanning the channel. The route beyond this crossing, known as the Indian Pass Trail, leads to the Bogachiel Trail.
This trail winds through the forest near Forks, WA, and is a hike to take if you want solitude. I have been on this trail numerous times and have never met another person. If you want majestic views of valleys and mountains, this is NOT the trail for you as the entire hike winds through thick timber and sometimes thick brush.
Wow! Wow! Wow! Hardly any people--actually, we saw none--beautiful hike, with plenty of little valley streams to break on. The rocks when fording the river at times can be slippery and move and roll often, so partner up.
Whenever I need a "serenity hike", I go here! Most of the hike is in the woods, but you hear the sound of water gently running from the streams down below. You will not hear sounds of civilization here, only the continuous symphony of birds. On this particular trip, I was treated to a very large owl that swooped in and sat on a branch about 20 yards from me. This is a great place to simply hike and dump your stress out on the trail. I always leave this great little trail feeling better than when I came...
I love this because I have never seen another soul while on this trail. It's not the most spectacular as far as sights go, but it's a great little morning hike to get my blood going before heading off to work in the afternoon. There are often trees over the trail and the couple little stream crossings are often soft and muddy, but I still love it.
Parking is outside the National Park boundary so no permit is needed, however you cross into NP territory within a half mile, so technically, taking your dog isn't allowed, but here we go back to the solitude of this trail: Who's going to know?
Once you reach the Calawah River you can cast a line and try bringing in a few trout, or you can ford the river in the shallows and continue on over Indian Pass and on to the Bogachiel River in about another 3 miles.