The restoration of the natural flow of the Elwha River has a 100+ year history summarized below.
- 1913 - Elwha Dam built (for hydroelectricity and water storage)
- 1927 - Glines Canyon Dam built (more hydropower and storage)
- 1992 - Restoration of Elwha Watershed is authorized by Congress, including the removal of both dams if necessary.
- 2014 - Both dams removed (after extensive research and planning) with explosives.
Within months, salmon were spawning upstream for the first time since the Elwha Dam was built. Additional work is underway as revegetation of the drained reservoirs continues.
There are multiple trail heads at the parking lot (you can pick up a brochure at an Olympic Park Visitor Center for more detailed information about the hikes here). The very short (.2 mile round trip) hike to the Madison Falls is dog-friendly (one of the very few trails that allows pets in the park). First, though we walked to the Elwha River.
Below is a huge stump at the beginning of the trail (with a deep hollow center) that our doggy, Sadie, found very interesting!
It is a paved (wheelchair-accessible) trail with lovely view of the forest and streams along the short walk.
And the beautiful Madison Falls are definitely worth a visit. It is a 60' drop with beautiful rock walls.
When we returned to the parking area, we walked a little further down the road. The Olympic Mountains were visible in the distance.
There is no admission fee for this area of Olympic National Park. For additional general information about the park, check out their site online.