Summer Road Trip 2018, Part 12: Olympic National Forest, Lake Quinault
My first full day in Quinault was probably going to be my last. Wilder Honda in Port Angeles is expecting to have Ellie fixed up by tomorrow so I wanted to spend the day hiking through the forests that border Lake Quinault.
I made morning coffee, then stopped by the Ranger Station to nail down a hiking plan. I walked next door to the Quinault Lodge, hoping to get a beer before starting my hike. It wasn't open because it wasn't even 11 AM.
I returned to my campsite to get my backpack with a granola bar, bear spray, rain shell, sweater, and first aid kit. I also brought half a Nalgene bottle of sweet tea.
The Quinault Loop Trail anchors a trail system that surrounds the Lake Quinault Lodge. I planned to walk a 4 mile variant of The Loop which skirts the Falls Creek Campground on the opposite bank of Falls Creek.
From the campground, I crossed a large foot bridge then followed signs for the loop.
The initial section follows the lake shore as it makes it way toward Lake Quinault Lodge. I walked the lodge grounds yesterday, so I continued walking the trail after a short break.
Just beyond the lodge, the trail became wooded which obscured any view of the lake. The trail made a few switchbacks as it descended down toward the water. As the lake's shore again came into view, the trail approached the water's edge at point where a couple of docks held kayaks and canoes. It was supremely peaceful and I took some time to enjoy the sound of water lapping against the rocky beach.
As the trail ascended back into the trees, a beautifully manicured path emerged. This section of the trail leads directly into the Willaby Campground.
Willaby Campground is a wooded stretch directly on the shore of Lake Quinault. When compared to the Falls Creek Campground where I'm camped, I'd consider Willaby a more desirable location. The sites seem larger and the foliage offers better privacy from neighboring campers. It also seems less crowded.
From the campground, the path passed under the road and headed into the rainforest. Below the road was a beautiful section of Willaby Creek that flows through a dramatic little stone gulch.
I had my 2-weight fly rod, perfect for a little stream, so I stopped and fished. I didn't get a single strike.
The Quinault Loop passes through a grove of incredible trees with an interesting mix of new and old growth.
The trees slowly give way to dense ground cover, as the trail narrows to thin footpath. I couldn't help but think that a bear encounter through this section would probably be uncomfortable.
The path becomes a boardwalk in a few sections as the trail passes through the Cedar Bog section. Just beyond the bog, the trail intersects Falls Creek then veers back toward the Lodge through another section of large trees.
After about 3 hours of hiking, a view of the Lodge began to take form through the trees as the trail approached road.
I returned to my campsite to enjoy my accomplishment and relax for a spell. I spent the afternoon exploring the town of Quinault.