The vertigo-inducing High Steel Bridge is steeped in local Hood Canal history and serves up an uncontested view of Vincent Creek Falls. Because it’s the tallest bridge in Washington State and one of the oldest, it regularly draws heavy crowds. But don’t let that deter you from taking the quick detour from Highway 101.
Built by Simpson Logging Company in 1929, it was part of the railroad that ran through the area until it was paved with concrete in the 1960s. Today it is part of the Olympic National Forest road network and provides access to some lesser-trodden hiking and camping.
The bridge itself is a marvel of engineering, leaping over the south fork of the Skokomish River a staggering 420 feet off the river and spanning a length of 685 feet from end to end. The thick stands of fir and cedar trees that blanket the hillsides seem to span forever into the horizon. In this busy area wildlife is relatively scarce, but keep an eye out for bald eagles, peregrine falcons, winter wrens, varied thrush, red tailed hawks, and other birds that frequent the skies around Olympic National Park. Incite envy in other travelers by bringing along a pair of binoculars.
It’s advised that visitors refrain from hiking along the adjacent hillsides or underneath the bridge. Though there are some obvious footpaths, the trails are not maintained and are rocky and slippery. There are numerous stories of tourists and locals alike taking scary falls in the area. And, as always, leave no trace.