Right Place, Perfect Time: Olympic's Spring Waterfalls

Hike through a wild water park in Enchanted Valley.
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Hike through a wild water park in Enchanted Valley.

In spring, Olympic National Park divides into two different worlds: the lower river valleys, which become a hiker heaven inundated by snowmelt, and the high country, still buried under feet of the white stuff. That means you can walk through the rainforest along the East Fork of the Quinault River while a massive network of ephemeral streams cascades down sheer rock walls beneath 6,911-foot Chimney Peak, creating an amphitheater of falls.

Start at Graves Creek Campground; walk upstream 13 miles and gain 1,700 feet on the East Fork Quinault River Trail. Be prepared to ford rivers, and watch for black bears emerging from their winter slumber. Camp in established sites with bear wire at the Enchanted Valley backcountry camping area, an idyllic enclave with front-row seats to multiple cascades. Hikers regularly see black bears, herds of Roosevelt elk, and harlequin ducks feeding in riffles. Pick up a permit ($5, plus $2 per person) at the Quinault Wilderness Information Center near the trailhead.

Map Custom Correct Enchanted Valley—Skokomish ($5, customcorrectmaps.com) Info (360) 565-3100; nps.gov/olym