Murhat Falls Trail
How long: 1.6 miles round trip.
How hard: Relatively easy
From Living on the Peninsula magazine
By Leif Nesheim
For a couple of fine fall hikes along Hood Canal with pretty views of tumbling water, look no further than a pair of short trails near the Duckabush River: Murhat Falls and Ranger Hole.
Each is just a bit more than a mile and a half round trip.
The Interrorem Cabin is an easy landmark to locate and marks the trailhead of the Ranger Hole Trail; Murhat Falls is just a few miles up the road.
The Murhat Falls Trail starts with a steady incline up a former logging road. The trail is wide and well maintained. Through green ferns and undergrowth of huckleberry, Oregon grape and other leafy plants, the trail continues its fairly steep ascent for about a mile before it continues past the logging road’s end and levels out. It then becomes a footpath that crosses over a ridge, descends into a narrow canyon, curving before following the steep-walled stream’s valley to the falls.
Murhat Falls is supposed to be a double-double falls — an upper and lower falls, each a double waterfall. There’s a small double waterfall a short distance below the main falls, but it was hard to see.
At the trail’s end, there is a bench granting a view of the main falls. They were quite graceful and pretty but definitely not a double fall. Perhaps at times of higher water the falls split into a twin cascade.
Though the Murhat Falls Trail was pleasant, it was short enough that it didn’t seem to satisfy the hiking bug, especially considering that the drive to get there took more time than the hike itself. You might want to head back down to the Interrorem Cabin to hike the Ranger Hole Trail.
I parked my motorcycle a short distance away from the cabin and headed into the woods while a family enjoyed their vacation stay in the cabin, which the Forest Service rents.
Just beyond the outhouse, the Interrorem Nature Trail (an interpretive loop that winds one-quarter mile near the head of the Ranger Hole Trail) separates from the path. The Ranger Hole Trail is so named because the rangers who once stayed at the cabin used it to hike to a fishing hole. Fishermen today still trek the same route.
The path meanders through large second-growth trees that rise between massive cedar stumps from yesteryear’s logging. Many of the stumps, taller than a man and wider, too, gave birth to dozens of saplings that sprang forth from their truncated tops.
The route continues on level grade until the last 500 feet or so when it drops steeply to the river. Once at the river, the trail opens on a setting perfect for an autumn picnic.
The river rushes through a narrow gorge, less than 10 feet across, formed by large boulders. It spills down a short, noisy cascade into a wide, blue pool that — had it been warmer — beckoned for swimming.
I don’t know how safe it would be, considering how fast the water was moving. It might be OK at the far end of the pool from the waterfall but the Forest Service’s trail description contains a hazard warning about swift water, rapids and waterfalls, noting that the river is not floatable and to use extreme caution.