The immense natural beauty of Grays Harbor is sometimes hard to fathom with hundreds of miles of trails weaving through the gorgeous landscape. Along the coast, on high peaks and along lakes and rivers flanked with tall timbers, recreation opportunities abound. While some enjoy a slow walk along trails, those looking for a faster adventure and a fun way to get in – and stay in ­– shape will find outstanding trail running opportunities in Grays Harbor.

Runners will wind through forests, passing ferns and old growth timber, crossing wooden bridges over salmon-filled rivers, Offering elevation gain or flat trails when desired, Grays Harbor County is quickly becoming known for incredible running experiences. While any trail can be run, there are a handful of locations that provide the perfect introduction to wilderness trail running in Grays Harbor.

Lake Sylvia and Beyond

Lake Sylvia trails
Easy to get to and fun to run, Lake Sylvia’s trails are ideal for quick training runs and more serious full day adventures. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Washington’s State Parks are always a go-to destination for trail running, thanks to numerous well-maintained trails weaving throughout nearly every unit. In Grays Harbor, some of the best running trails can be found in and around Lake Sylvia State Park. The trails make for great training for ultra-runners looking for quick and easy miles, thanks to an intricate, albeit sometimes confusing, trail system. One of the favorite loops is up the Brownie Trail to the Ridge Trail, which meets up with the Lake Trail for a few miles of running. A few loops of this route will leave you with some elevation and a better understanding of the trails of the park.

For more challenge, consider the Upper Sylvia Creek Loop and popping onto some of the side trails. Along this route, there is a potential for over ten miles of running, leading to sweeping views all the way to the Satsop towers. Miles of trails loop in and out of the park; so put on your shoes, grab your Discover Pass and make this your next run.

The Quinault Trails

Willaby Creek trail
Along the Quinault Rainforest Nature Trail, easy trails lead through gorgeous wildness scenery. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Once you have exhausted the forests of Lake Sylvia, the miles of trails in the Quinault region will leave you constantly enthused for your next trail running adventure. In the Quinault region, there are three running options that are world class. The simplest route starts near the Lake Quinault Lodge, weaving through the Quinault Rainforest Nature Trail and connecting with any number of trails making up the 13+ mile system. Through old growth timber, next to pristine streams and gorgeous waterfalls, these trails are a simple and fun way to log some serious miles in the rainforest.

Those looking for a longer distance can run up either the East Fork or North Fork of the Quinault River. Along the East Fork, a marathon distance run will take you to the Enchanted Valley and back. This trail is one of the quintessential Pacific Northwest hiking and backpacking destinations and is quickly becoming a mecca for rainforest trail runners. On the North Fork, find a fantastic 21 mile loop run. Starting at the trailhead, the route runs up to three lakes, along a ridge and then drops back to the river at Elip Creek. If this isn’t enough, extend with a trip to the steep summit of Colonel Bob Peak, accessed back near the Lake Quinault Lodge.

Wynoochee Lake Loop

Enchanted Valley
Considered to be the most iconic marathon distance trail run around Grays Harbor, the trail Enchanted Valley grow more beautiful every mile. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Have you ever wanted to trail run with Sasquatch? Chances are, it won’t ever happen. But if it does, it would probably be on the trail that loops around Wynoochee Lake. At around 15 miles round trip, the trail is one of the more solitude-filled runs you will find. A few miles from the campsite, the day hikers will fade away, leaving you and the rare mountain biker alone in the forests. Gaining over 1,000 feet of elevation, up and down hills to creeks, the route is simple to follow. You may have to jump/crawl over a few downed trees, but that’s half the fun. Once you arrive at the north side of the lake, head to Maidenhair Falls for a break and great view. The trail continues on the east side of the lake, back to your car.

Running the Coast

Westhaven Beach offers beach views and flat sand for miles, changing up your running routine. Photo credit: Kris Lee Cox/LostRiver Photography.

After reaching summits and running through the rainforest, chances are, you’ll want a run that is different, relaxing and still challenging for your legs. For days like that, head to the coast and enjoy a run along the beaches of Grays Harbor. One popular run in Ocean Shores is to start at the jetty, run down to the Taurus Blvd beach entrance and back. At a little over six miles in length, you can break up the difficulty by running on the wet or dry sand. Across the harbor in Westport, a classic coast runs leads from the dunes and beaches from Westhaven State Park down to Twin Harbors State Park and back. The route is around eight miles in total and gives you the perfect coastal experience in Grays Harbor.


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