As I made the final turn to the Chalet I was greeted by a fellow hiker, “Welcome, to paradise.”
This is a 26 miles roundtrip moderate overnight located in the Quinault Rainforest in Olympic National Park. Obtain permits before entering the park at the Quinault Ranger station 6 miles before the trailhead. Yes, they do check. Also stop at the convenience store for anything you may have missed, or a hot meal. I recommend the breakfast burrito. There are plenty of water sources on the way. And oh yeah, bears. Also, bring rain gear, you are in a rainforest.
Some of the largest trees in the state are in this forest. In fact, visit the largest Spurce on the way to the trailhead, you may not have energy to stop and see it on the way out. The trailhead doesn’t have a lot of room for cars, so expect to park along the road. It starts at the Graves Creek trailhead where you turn left and cross your first bridge. Not soon after you will start to notice several large fallen trees. Three miles in take your first break to take in the river that keeps carving out the gorge.
If you want a closer look, just past the bridge there is a small trail to the right that leads down to the river, but that would take energy I didn’t have to waste. Yay, just 10 more miles to go. The trail follows the river closely pretty much the entire route. Before long, another bridge.
I thought I was making good pace. There is a really great campsite along the river before the halfway point. I stopped to stretch and have a snack.
My face was the exact opposite as I came to the true halfway point, O’Neil creek. 13 miles of what I thought would be a long slow incline is harder than I expected, and slower. 4 hours and only halfway. The path is more of a rolling incline, going up and down, but with a focus of going up. There is a lot of solitude on this trail. You can really unplug on this one. I would go long stretches where all my sounds were entirely the rainforest. It’s absolutely beautiful to move along to the sounds of nature. Take pause to really appreciate it. Nothing smells as sweet as fresh rain in a rainforest.
The downed trees are plentiful, and you really get an appreciation of the circle of life. There is so much growth in death. And then you realize you are also in the chain. It’s not until the last two miles you’re likely to run into a bear. Bear canisters are required after pyrites creek.
This is the most beautiful fallen down tree I’ve ever seen. I had to stop to play in it and say thank you. Not too long after this it opens up into the beginning of the valley. Have your bear mace ready, just in case.