Have You Been Awestruck? – Vance Creek Bridge, Lake Cushman, Staircase Rapids

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” — W.B. Yeats


***8/15/2014 – Sorry guys. I hear this bridge is now completely inaccessible and CLOSED. I do not know any details, but please respect and stay off the property.  THANK YOU! <3 ***

As you may or may not already know, Instagram is flooded with some amazing shots of Vance Creek Bridge!  It has even coined the hashtag #ThatNWBridge.  Despite it’s popularity on IG, however, you will be surprised that not many Washingtonians are aware of this wonderful gem.  And what a captivating site!  Breathtaking.  I had been eager to visit!

So this weekend, my boyfriend and I finally made our way out, and we have been daydreaming since.  This bridge is simply amazing and dangerously alluring.  I posted some photos on my personal Instagram and Facebook, and it instantly became quite the sensation.   And how could it not?  You be the judge…



The Vance Creek Viaduct trail is part of the Skokomish Valley in Shelton, WA.  It is a two-hour drive southwest of Seattle, over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and through the southernmost part of the Olympic National Forest.

*I removed address details since this place is now closed. Don’t trespass =) *

 The hike to the bridge was an easy 10-15 minute walk.  Easy!  The payoff?  Priceless!

The day turned out to be pretty sunny.  But a small storm did surprise us later...

The day turned out to be pretty sunny despite the rainy forcast. But a short storm did surprise us later…

Sorry for the crazy-looking eyes. Ha ha ha. This is a still shot from our GoPro video, and it was hard to capture the image with our eyes open.

Insane, right?!  No rail. Very old, abandoned bridge.

Insane right?!  No railing.  Very old, abandoned bridge.

From sunshine to rain and hail in a matter of seconds! We love you, PNW!

Rain and hail! But that didnt stop us.

…But that didn’t stop us.


Visiting #ThatNWBridge did not take the entire day, so we headed back onto Highway 101 N. to Lake Cushman, which was about a 30-minute drive from the bridge.  This lake reminded me of Lake Crescent, and had a gorgeous blue-green color to it.

Lake Cushman

Along the side of the lake, right off the road, we saw this ginormous boulder.  We stopped hoping we could stand atop some of those boulders. Way too steep, though!  But hey, can you spy the random rope?!

So we climbed the rope, of course! Whoever put this up is brilliant! Thank you!


The view from above was absolutely worth it!


The necessary boots photo! You can’t tell…but this was pretty high up on the boulder.  Amazing water, right?!



Up on the northernmost part of Lake Cushman lies Staircase Rapids.  When you pull into the parking lot, you’ll have to cross over the solid bridge, which is where the trail begins.  There is actually more than one trail, all with varying distances. 

Our choice was a 30-minute hike that ended at the beautiful cable bridge.  It looked like the exact replica of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge!  So cute!



And off we went!  What a great day trip it was!


And with that being said, I invite you to go explore!  Wherever you are — wander into the amazing hidden places in your area.

But remember – take in every moment like it’s your last breath.  The photos and selfies are great, but intangible memories are worth so much more.  Give yourself a break from the gadgets and truly awaken your senses.

Fill your lungs with fresh air.  Feel the soil, rocks, and trees.  Notice every flower, mushroom, and wandering insect.  Listen to the rushing creeks, rivers, and rustling trees.  But save your taste buds, unless you can taste a raindrop.  Haha!

There is a reason I don’t post photos on social media during anything that I do.  Go, team #LaterGram!! 

With love from the PNW,


Click below for more random photos.  Click on each photo to enlarge. However, this may not be compatible with your mobile.

27 responses to “Have You Been Awestruck? – Vance Creek Bridge, Lake Cushman, Staircase Rapids

  1. I have vacationed in this area since 1976, and have lived here since 2006. If you leave the trail to climb on fallen logs or the roots of massive trees you leave the area less pristine for future generations. I do appreciate the photos, as there are many who cannot go there to see the beauty of this area.
    Respectfully, Karen

    • Thanks for the feedback, Karen. I appreciate you opening the dialogue regarding straying from trails.
      On the other hand, it does kinda suck that we have to be extra careful in preserving our wilderness after having caused so much destruction through development and what not. Long are the times where we could simply run to the forests and climb trees wildly :(

  2. I blog often and I really thank you for your information. The article has really peaked
    my interest. I am going to book mark your site and keep checking
    for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

    • Thanks for stopping by :)
      If you follow my blog, that’s awesome, thank you!

      Hope you had a great week, and have a wonderful weekend as well!

    • Hi there! thanks for stopping by =)
      And happy to be a part of your blogroll <3

      Have a wonderful rest of the week!

    • tealtomato – Thank you! :) I stay in Seattle, but this place is about 2 hrs away. Beautiful right?! There are so many pretty places in WA and the rest of the PNW, its amazing!

  3. Awesome pictures! Did you do all this in one day? What’s the best route to take from Seattle to Vance Creek Bridge?

    • Hi Nathan! — Yes, all in one day =)
      And the only way I know how to get there is the route I posted on this blog with directions through a GPS (below).
      If you’re still unsure how to get there, shoot me an email and I’ll send you more detailed directions with photo snip-its and all! Haha.


      GPS: Vance Creek Viaduct, Shelton, WA.
      The directions from Seattle will take you to NF-23. The trail begins off this road, so don’t take any other turns. [The second and longer route is off NF-2341/2199 and requires you to trespass on private property owned by the logging company. Might not be a good idea.]

      • Awesome! Thanks! I found the directions/route through Google. Is there a sign that will tell us where the easy trail starts from NF-23? Also, which area of Lake Cushman is that?

      • Hey Nathan — noooo, there will be no sign for this trail. Once you’re on NF-23, don’t detour onto any other small roads. The trail will be on your left, so look out for a beat-up parking space. If more ppl are already there, there will be lots of cars parked along the road….that’ll be another indicator :)

        And this was the northern part of Lake Cushman, right next to the Staircase Rapids trail. U can also pull directions easily on your GPS for it :) or grab directions from Trail Association site.
        Its only another 20-30 mins frm the bridge, and u won’t miss the boulders along the lake once you are getting close to the staircase rapids trail.

        Hope u have a good time if u visit this weekend! The water will feel sooooo nice on these hot days!

  4. Amazing pictures! I was wondering about Vance creek trail, how is parking? Do we park on the side of the road? Or is there a parking area? Thank you!

    • Hi Rey! Thnx for the comment =)

      Parking is a little bit of both. This trail is not an ‘official trail’, so it doesn’t have a designated parking lot, bathrooms, or anything of that sort.

      However, there is what seems to be a small, old parking area off the side of the road right where the trail starts. Once that one fills, cars start parking along the rest of the road, which isn’t bad at all either.

      Hope that helps. Enjoy!

  5. Hey! I just wanted to say Thank You! Your post was so perfect, with directions too, that a friend and I just had our own day trip with your intineray!! It was a great day!

    • Hi Bethany! Aw that’s awesome!! Very happy to hear the post was helpful to you, and very glad you and your friend had a great day! =)

      Thnx for your note <3 Enjoy the rest of the week!

    • Hi Apryl! Hope I didn’t get to your message too late :)

      The directions on your GPS or Google Maps are pretty spot on if you search for “Staircase Rapids trail”. The directions on WA Trail Association website are also pretty accurate: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/staircase.

      Once you get to the main parking lot, you’ll have walk over a foot bridge, across the river. There will be some side trails, but you want to keep walking straight to the main trail. There will be a sign to the left, (right before the main trail begins) that tells you the total distances, etc.

      The trail to the cable bridge is only about 30 mins.

      You’ll walk up that main trail for about 10-15 mins (.8 mi) until you hit a junction. Go RIGHT toward the rapids for another 10 mins and it will end at the cable bridge =)

      Hope this helps. Happy Hiking! <3

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