Steam Donkey Loop

Steam Donkey Loop

Elev. Gain: 
500 ft.
545 ft.
Brinnon, WA
2.75 miles (round trip)
An easy trail along the Puget Sound with streams and wild rhododendrons
Javascript is required to view this map.



Steam Donkey Loop is one of several family-friendly activities in Dosewallips State Park. Situated on prime real estate between Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains, the park offers a wonderful mix of seashore, river, and forest exploration.

This short trail can be accessed from several points in the park, although the most obvious is from the bridge along the entrance road. It's helpful to pick up a free map of the park from the service station in the campground before you begin as there are several trails that intersect along the way in case you want to modify your hike. This description records a clockwise loop from the bridge.

The hike is clearly marked as it crosses the bridge and climbs gently through recovering forest of cedar, maple, and cottonwood. After a short distance you'll intersect with the Fire Road. Turn left here and go about 50 yards before regaining Steam Donkey Loop on your right. One-tenth of a mile further, you'll pass by a small pool used to power old logging winches nicknamed "Steam Donkeys." From here the trail climbs up through fir and rhododendron as steep as it will get, crossing several streams on planked footbridges to a highpoint of 545' at about 1.25 miles.

After descending back down to the Fire Road at 1.75 miles, turn left at the sign marked for Maple Valley and drop into a moss covered forest, crossing a large bridge over the lower section of Phantom Creek at 2.35 miles and then finishing your hike along the Dosewallips River.

More activities: Cabins, platform tents, and tent sites are all available year-round for overnight visitors. Dosewallips River is has several sandy stretches of shoreline to explore. As to Hood Canal, the best beach access is found at Shellfish Beach, one-tenth of a mile north of the main parking lot (just across the bridge) on Highway 101. A short trail out to the tidal flats and viewing platform begins at the edge of the gravel parking lot. Harvesting clams and oysters is permitted, but check the sign at the trailhead for current restrictions.

Permits & Tips

Discover Pass required. Water and toilets available at the park. Dogs allowed on a leash. This hike is listed as 3.5 miles on the park map, but our GPS unit clocked it in as much shorter. Dosewallips is pronounced "doh-si-wall-ips."

>>Google Directions

How to get there

Steam Donkey Loop is in Dosewallips State Park, located next to the town of Brinnon on Highway 101 along the Hood Canal.
The park is clearly signed from the highway, 40 miles north of Shelton or 20 miles south of Highway 104.
Find a large day-use parking lot on the east (water) side of the highway, and cross back over the highway on foot into the campground. The bridge is on your left, several hundred yards after passing through the entrance gates.