Kloshe Nanitch and the North Point

Trail Highlights:Panoramic views; wildflowers; historic context
Round-trip Distance:6.40 miles / 10.30 km
Location: Olympic National Forest, Olympic Peninsula - North

Ancestral lands of the Makah, Klallam and Quileute
  • On U.S. Route 101 between Forks and Port Angeles, Washington, turn left from eastbound/right from westbound between Mileposts 211 and 212 where signage indicates West Snider Road and Olympic National Forest Snider Work Center
  • Proceed 1.00 mile/1.60 km to the parking area and trailhead at the end of the road

  • The road to the lookout, variously indicated on maps as Forest Road 3040, Forest Road 3041, and East Twin River Road, is on the left behind the Snider Work Center approximately 0.50 miles/0.80 km down West Snider Road. Be sure to consult maps to ascertain the correct route.
    Required Pass: Discover Pass or equivalent for state recreation sites (if parking at the trailhead)
    ⋅⋅⋅ or ⋅⋅⋅
    Northwest Forest Pass or equivalent for U.S. Forest Service sites (if driving to the lookout)
    Additional Trail Info: U.S. Forest Service
    Washington Trails Association

    The Kloshe Nanitch lookout offers bird’s-eye views soaring the length of the Sol Duc River Valley and beyond. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.

    “Kloshe Nanitch” means “to stand guard” or “to keep a good look out” in the Chinook jargon, a pidgin amalgamation of French, English, and Pacific Northwest First Nations languages that was prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries among local European and indigenous peoples (and not to be confused with the now extinct language of Oregon’s Chinook people).  In keeping with its name, the trail’s destination is the remnant of a fire lookout perched atop Snider Ridge with impressive views of the Sol Duc River Valley below and the Olympic Mountains beyond.  The trail climbs at first moderately and then steeply through airy coniferous forest delicately laced with vine maple, only breaking into open air in its final approach to the lookout.  Spring and summer wildflowers dot the shady woodland, becoming much more prolific in the sunny summit clearings.  From Kloshe Nanitch, a short loop trail leads to the ridge’s North Point, with similar views, as well as the junction with the Snider Ridge Trail to Mount Muller, some 3.00 miles/4.80 km distant.  Although it never quite loses the distant bustle of trucks trundling down nearby Highway 101, the little-used trail does offer a bit of solitude.  Upon reaching the lookout, one may be surprised to learn that it can also be reached by a rough Forest Service road.

    Significant confusion exists as to whether a pass is required at the trailhead and, if so, which pass.  Most resources state that a Northwest Forest Pass is required; however, a sign posted near the trailhead parking area states that a Discover Pass is required.  Information provided by the U.S. Forest Service at the first of the “Additional Trail Info” links above states that, although the trail itself and the lookout are maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, the trailhead parking area is maintained by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and that therefore, a U.S. Forest Service pass is required to park at the lookout, but not at the trailhead.  To be safe, hikers parking at the trailhead should display a state-required Discover Pass.

    For its first 0.25 miles/0.40 km, the trail follows an old road though moist, low-hung forest. One of the Sol Duc River’s many serpentine curves meanders just beyond the forest fringe shortly before the road reduces to a trail that turns north up the mountainside. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    Seemingly impenetrable forest fences the trail as it switchbacks upward. At lower elevations, vine maples (Acer circinatum) woven throughout the unbranched conifer columns create a delicate, lace-like woodland middlestory. In early summer, the maples’ twin-formed seeds, called samaras, ripen colorfully before drying and taking to the breeze as papery whirligigs. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    Several small streams cross the trail, but are easily traversed in one or two skips. Approximately halfway up the trail, look for one spring-born stream bursting directly from the mountainside just below the trail.
    Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    In spring and early summer, diminutive wildflowers dot the shady woodland and sunny mountaintop meadow, including, first row from the top, orange honeysuckles (Lonicera ciliosa), common woolly sunflowers (Eriophyllum lanatum), cut-leaved foamflowers (Tiarella trifoliata), pipsessewas, or, western prince’s-pines (Chimaphila umbellata), true, or, water forget-me-nots (Myosotis scorpioides) (non-native), dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) (non-native), two-leaved false Solomon’s seals (Maianthemum dilatatum), and salal (Gaultheria shallon); second row, western, or, Sitka columbines (Aquilegia formosa), American vetches (Vicia americana), Oregon, or, redwood sorrels (Oxalis oregana), western starflowers (Lysimachia latifolia), harsh paintbrushes (Castilleja hispida), fringecups (Tellima grandiflora), American twinflowers (Linnaea borealis), and Alaska, or, short-spurred rein orchids (Platanthera unalascensis); third row, blueleaf, Virginia, wild, or, common strawberries (Fragaria virginiana), arctic sweet coltsfoots (Petasites frigidus), baneberries (Actaea rubra), evergreen, or, redwood violets (Viola sempervirens), oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) (non-native), common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), wood roses (Rosa gymnocarpa), and western bunchberries (Cornus unalaschkensis); and bottom row, spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa), Scouler’s valerians (Valeriana scouleri), Cascade Oregon-grapes (Berberis nervosa), Pacific trilliums (Trillium ovatum), liverleaf wintergreens (Pyrola asarifolia), woodland pinedrops (Pterospora andromedea), western spotted coralroot orchids (Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis), Cascade beardtongues (Penstemon serrulatus), and Columbia lilies (Lilium columbianum). Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    In contrast with their smooth, lower elevation neighbors, conifers along the ridgetop bristle with branch stubs like so many fishbones stood on end. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    Kloshe Nanitch’s lookout tops a jutting crag surrounded by a steeply pitched meadow. Its old fire lookout is gone, but its foundation now supports a sturdy viewing platform that commands a view of the Sol Duc River Valley below.
    Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    The Olympic Mountains, often veiled in rain, rise beyond a succession of ridges to the southeast, the nearest of which, Bigler Mountain, bears the fresh wound of a recent clear-cut across its flanks. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    Below the lookout, the Sol Duc River Valley stretches away to the Pacific Ocean, which, on a clear day, lines the southwestern horizon. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    Lake Crescent lies in a mountain fold to the east of the lookout. Mount Muller rises midway down the ridge on the left and can be reached by taking the Snider Ridge Trail from the North Point Loop that begins just below Kloshe Nanitch.
    Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.
    To the northeast of Kloshe Nanitch, Snider Ridge’s North Point is visible, crowned with a variety of antennae and other instruments. The North Point Loop branches just below Kloshe Nanitch’s viewing platform and circles 1.50 miles/2.40 km around the ridge to the North Point and then back to Kloshe Nanitch. For much of its distance, the North Point Loop snakes through dank barrens beneath the unthinned new forest that bristles from the ridgetop. At approximately 1.20 miles/2.00 km from the main trail, the loop trail abruptly merges with a road just beyond sight of the North Point. Upon turning right up the road, the point’s various towers come quickly into view. Although limited, the view from the North Point is similar to that from Kloshe Nanitch, which is barley visible perched on the westward mountainside. To complete the loop, turn back down the road and continue past the loop trail’s junction with the road just 0.30 miles/0.50 km to Kloshe Nanitch. Kloshe Nanitch Trail, Washington.

    © 2015-2024 Anthony Colburn. Images may not be used or reproduced in any form without express written consent.


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