This series of boxes is located on the Olympic Discovery Trail, a walking and biking trail that runs on mostly level ground along the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula. Currently there is a 20-mile contiguous stretch of trail running from Sequim to Port Angeles, with plans for expanding the trail up to 100 miles or more. The trail features spectacular views of the Olympic mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Wildlife is easy to find along the trail too, including sea birds and large mammals such as Roosevelt Elk, so bring your binoculars! For more info, see www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com
The most convenient access point for these boxes is the parking lot on Strait View Drive, just east of Port Angeles. If you are heading west on Hwy 101 from Sequim, travel about three-quarters of the way to Port Angeles. You are close when you pass the Deer Park Cinemas on your left, and begin to descend the big hill. Near the bottom of the giant hill, turn right onto Strait View Drive. It’s roughly 12 miles to Strait View Drive from the Sequim Ave exit on 101. Immediately after turning onto Strait View Drive, turn right again into the parking lot.
There are boxes along the trail both east and west of the parking lot. If you go for them all, the hike is a little over 4.0 miles round-trip. Or you can choose either the East box or the West boxes only, which result in a hike of about 2.0 miles round-trip. The West boxes are along a very flat section of trail, while there is some slight elevation gain/loss to the East.
The Port Angeles Gun Club uses their firing range on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10am-3pm. Their firing range is along the trail to the EAST box. You can still use the trail during firing hours (it’s quite safe – they’re shooting in the opposite direction), but it’s a little bit loud.
Olympic Discovery Trail East
To get to the first box, set off on the trail from the parking lot in the general direction of Sequim. Walk up the gentle hill until you see the ODT marker kiosk near the top on the left side of the trail. Off to your right, a large historical marker tells about Spanish Explorers. Be sure to read the sign and record the year that Captain Juan Perez sailed north from San Blas and sighted the tallest mountain on the Olympic Peninsula. Then return to the trail and continue past the ODT kiosk.
The trail makes a little jog here, so watch for the painted signs on the asphalt. Turn left onto the road for a short distance, pass through two crosswalks, and pick up the trail again on the far side of Buchanan.
You will pass by the PA Gun Club (New Members Welcomed!). Continue following the trail around to the left. You will pass some interesting botanical plantings, including high bush cranberry and Carolina allspice. Around the trail to the right, you will begin to descend a hill.
At the bottom of the hill, a scenic bridge traverses a creek. From the NE side of the bridge, count X steps along the trail. X is the number you get when you subtract the year you recorded earlier from 1801. Once you have traveled X steps, to your right in the rock wall, a little above knee height is a vertical crack. Tucked in on the left, behind a few smaller rocks, is your first find. Return to the parking lot to find the other boxes.
Olympic Discovery Trail West
To find the western boxes, start at the parking lot and cross Strait View Drive to the Morse Creek Trestle. Up and over the Trestle, you will be on your way in the direction of Port Angeles.
After about a half a mile of walking (or so), you will see a smaller trail on the right intersecting the main trail. There might be a couple trails that come in from the right, but this is the first one that goes down a significant hill. Starting on the main ODT, 11 steps should take you to the bottom of the hill on this side trail, and an additional 6 steps should take you to a pair of Big Leaf Maples, just off the right side of the trail. The smaller one is in front, and the bigger one behind. In between the narrow gap in these trees, on the right-hand side, is box #2. Return to the ODT, and continue walking towards Port Angeles.
In another half mile or so, you will come out to a nice view of the water. The trails diverge, with a Winter Storm Bypass route and the waterfront trail. I recommend the waterfront trail, unless you arrive during a winter storm! In the late fall, winter, and early spring there is usually a wide assortment of seabirds visible from the trail, including several species of loons, grebes, sea ducks, and alcids. Continue on until the two trails reconnect. You should see a large series of concrete blocks on the right. Go to where the newer blocks end and the older blocks begin. Now count back three new blocks. Under the east end of the third new block, on the ocean side covered by some rocks, is box #3. Return to the parking lot, or continue on a couple more miles to arrive in downtown Port Angeles.
More to do
Don’t miss other great boxes in the area, like the ones at the Sequim Dungeness River Audubon Center, Crescent Lake, Dungeness Oyster House, Ediz’s Hook, and Sequim Bay SP. In the summer, tour a lavender farm. And in any event, stop by The Buzz for funky ice cream or hot chocolate – take 101 back to Sequim, and then take the Sequim Ave exit. Just north a couple of blocks from 101 you will see it on the right.