Few places in the world are as beautiful, accessible, wild and breathtaking as the Quinault Rainforest. Partially located on the northern edges of Grays Harbor County, the Quinault Rainforest is one of America’s premier tourist destinations, where solitude and wilderness mix perfectly with recreation and vacation.
Whether you enjoy a leisure paddle on a pristine lake, relaxing in incredible lodges and hotels or exploring miles of trails full of elk, waterfalls and old growth forests, there is something for everyone in the Quinault Rainforest of Olympic National Park and Forest. And, now that summer is waning, the crisp air, fall colors and uncrowded trails and lodges beckon. While the main areas are well known, the region hides incredible secrets often-overlooked by those visiting. Highlighting the best known and least known places to visit in Quinault, we hope this entices and inspires you to head to Quinault and experience the majesty of the rainforest firsthand.
Like any trip to someplace amazing, you can best see the region if you stay close by. Luckily, for those visiting the Quinault region of the Olympic Peninsula, there are a handful of lodging destinations nearly as beautiful as the rainforest itself. The crown jewel is the historic. Built in 1926, the lodge is located right along the lake shore and is beautifully designed. Visited by Presidents and backpackers alike, this lodge needs to be experienced. Just a few miles past the Lake Quinault Lodge, offers rooms and cabins right along the lake. Offering breathtaking views and quick access to hiking trails, this is a fantastic basecamp for families and couples.
On the opposite side of the lake, theis another gorgeous and historic destination for lake and rainforest adventures. Built in the 1920s, the resort offers 1-3 bedroom cabins with fireplaces, free firewood and even loaner canoes and kayaks to explore the lake. While you’ll need to stay here at least two nights, you’ll probably want to stay even longer. Finally, if you want to stay closer to Highway 101, the provides a casual hotel experience right along the edge of Olympic National Forest. With river views and Quinault artwork on the walls, this is a great place to unwind after a day of hiking and exploring the rainforest.
The Loop Drive
Once you have your gear unpacked, taking theis a perfect introduction to the rainforest and a chance to get your bearings on this wilderness gateway. There are ten main stops on the Quinault Loop drive highlighted in the article linked above, each of which should be seen. However, there are three that should be added to your “must-see” list.
Near the lodging options on South Shore Road, a quick roadside stop to the World’s Largest Spruce Tree can’t be missed. Said to be over 1,000 years old, the tree stands at over 191 feet and is over 58 feet in circumference, reached after a short 1/4 mile walk. Next up is the Merriman Falls stop just a few miles up the rainforest road. Tumbling 40 feet, this roadside waterfall is iconic, picturesque and beautiful year-round. Finally, after crossing the Quinault River Bridge and heading back along the North Shore Road, take a quick stop at the July Creek Picnic Area for short trails leading to the lake, passing huge trees and ending with impressive views of the water, the mountains and the majesty of the Quinault.
Hikers the world over have been raving about the beauty found on Quinault Rainforest trails for decades. Yet, the region, compared to other popular regions of Olympic National Park, is rarely visited. A few of the region’s hikes might be crowded by Pacific Northwest standards, but aside from busy summer weekends, you will find mostly empty trails and fantastic views. There are literally, but three trails give you a perfect taste for the region and some impressive experiences.
The first is thehike which puts you on top of the rainforest with views of the entire Olympic Peninsula. From Mount Olympus to the coast, the views here are stunning, especially as you look down on Lake Quinault. Keep in mind that this is not a beginner’s hike.
The second hike is easy enough for nearly anyone and is reached at the very end of the road at Graves Creek. Known as, the trail is a little hilly, but short enough for nearly all ages. At just five miles round trip, you’ll see old growth forests, wildlife and a jaw-dropping view of the Quinault River from a wooden bridge. This is yet another hike that shouldn’t be skipped.
Finally, you will love the simple, flat and gorgeoustrails on the North Shore Road. Like the Hall of Mosses Trail in the Hoh Rainforest, these trails give you a perfect taste of the rainforest and the culture of the region without much effort. Expect to see elk in the tall ferns and eagles overhead.
The Quinault Rainforest is a crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, tucked away on the Olympic Peninsula. The unique wilderness climate and ancient history both in the forest and people are not to be missed.