Classic Adventures in the National Parks: East Fork Quinault River Trail

Olympic National Park
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Olympic National Park
Quinault River Trail

More than 150 inches of rain annually—and a tireless trail crew--make the East Fork Quinault River Trail a perfect trek for a first-timer. Photo by: Ben Herdon/tandemstock.com

For gentle, straightforward trails and reliable campsites—not to mention unbelievable scenery—there’s no better objective for rookies looking to crank up the mileage than the East Fork Quinault River Trail. The footpath offers constant access to water and inviting campsites, freeing you up to focus on other things, like the glacier-gouged peaks and wildflower-flecked meadows.

Your goal: Take the East Fork Quinault River Trail 13 miles through rainforest to Enchanted Valley, a verdant basin tucked beneath 6,000-foot peaks. Veterans will do it as an overnight, but take your time to savor the scenery, stopping over at O’Neil Creek (mile 7) or Pyrites Creek (mile 9.5) before finding an idyllic meadow campsite in Enchanted Valley. Simply look up and you’ll understand why the area is nicknamed the “Valley of 10,000 Waterfalls.” And you might even come home with your first megafauna sighting, too: Black bears, elk, and coyotes roam at dawn and dusk. Retrace your steps on the return.

Trailhead Graves Creek Season May through September Permit $5/night; obtain at the South Shore Lake Quinault Ranger Station