Soaring Heights: Your Comprehensive Guide to Exploring Washington’s High Steel Bridge


The High Steel Bridge, a relic of Washington’s rich logging history, stands as a testament to human engineering, framed against the grandeur of nature’s bounty. Perched 365 feet above the Skokomish River’s South Fork, it’s one of the most awe-inspiring and highest railway arch bridges ever built in the United States. This guide will help you plan a memorable visit.

Historical Overview: Echoes From The Past

Constructed in 1929 by the Simpson Logging Company, the High Steel Bridge served as a key transportation route for timber from the Olympic Peninsula. Though the last logging train traversed the bridge in 1980, the structure still stands today, resonating with the echoes of a bygone era, and now serves as an attraction for locals and tourists alike.

Getting There: Journey to the Sky

Situated near the town of Shelton, the High Steel Bridge is about a two-hour drive from Seattle. Travel along US-101 S and WA-3 S to Shelton, then take the exit from US-101 N. From there, drive to NF-2340, following signs for the High Steel Bridge. Do note that the final stretch is a gravel road, suitable for most vehicles but can be muddy and slippery after rain.

What to Expect: Soaring Vistas and Tranquil Beauty

As you approach, the bridge’s skeletal steel frame emerges from the verdant expanse, a stark contrast to the deep green of the surrounding forest. The bridge itself is a single-lane structure, open only to vehicles traveling in one direction at a time.

Once on the bridge, the view is breathtaking. The Skokomish River snakes through the gorge far below, flanked by the steep walls of the canyon draped in a tapestry of conifers and maples. To the south, you can spot the snow-capped peak of Mount Rainier on clear days. There are guardrails, but the height might be dizzying for those afraid of heights.

Safety Measures: A Secure Experience

While the High Steel Bridge is an engineering marvel, it’s essential to prioritize safety during your visit. Adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Stay within designated areas: For your safety, don’t climb over guardrails or venture to the bridge’s edges.
  • Mind the traffic: The bridge accommodates single-lane vehicular traffic, so be aware of any approaching vehicles.
  • Maintain Supervision: If you’re traveling with children, keep them under close supervision at all times.
  • Respect the heights: The bridge is extremely high, so it’s not advisable for those with severe acrophobia.

Nearby Attractions: Extending Your Adventure

The area surrounding the High Steel Bridge offers a variety of attractions for nature lovers:

  • Vance Creek Bridge: Once the second-highest railway arch bridge in the U.S., it’s now a popular spot for adventurous hikers and photographers.
  • Olympic National Forest: Covering a vast expanse, it offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
  • Lake Cushman: A beautiful lake offering recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and camping.
  • Staircase Rapids: An easy, scenic trail along the North Fork of the Skokomish River.

Capturing the Moment: Photography Tips

The High Steel Bridge is a dream locale for photographers. Capture the bridge against the morning mist for a moody shot or aim for the golden hour to bathe the scene in warm hues. Wide-angle lenses are great for emphasizing the bridge’s grand scale against the landscape, while a zoom lens can focus on details or wildlife.


A visit to Washington’s High Steel Bridge offers a potent blend of history, engineering, and natural beauty. As you stand atop the soaring structure, the river’s rush echoes through the gorge, whispering tales of the past and inspiring admiration for the resilience of both nature and human ambition. Remember, while the bridge is a sight to behold, it’s also a testament to our responsibility to respect and protect these historical and natural wonders for future generations. As you plan your visit, think of yourself not just as a traveler, but as a guardian of this remarkable testament to history.

Author: admin

Michaela is a traveler at heart. She loves to explore new places and learn about different cultures. Her travel blog is a place for her to share her experiences and tips with other travelers. She hopes to inspire others to explore the world and see all that it has to offer.

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