The enchanting Quinault River Valley is one of Olympic National Park's least crowded corners. Clustered around the deep-blue glacial waters of Lake Quinault lie forested peaks, a historic lodge and some of the oldest (and tallest) Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and western red cedar trees in the world. The lake itself offers plenty of activities such as fishing, boating and swimming, while upstream both the north and south branches of the Quinault River harbor a couple of important transpark trails.
The lake may be accessed from the north and the south. The south shore hosts the tiny village of Quinault, complete with the luscious Lake Quinault Lodge, a ranger station and USFS office, a restaurant, a couple of stores, a post office and a gas station.
Lake Quinault is part of the Quinault Indian Reservation, and fishing is regulated by the tribe; check locally for tribal licenses and regulations. Boat rentals are available from Lake Quinault Lodge.
A number of short hiking trails begin just below Lake Quinault Lodge; pick up a free map from the USFS office. The shortest of these is the Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail, a half-mile walk through 500-year-old Douglas firs. This short trail adjoins the 3-mile Quinault Loop Trail, which meanders through the rainforest before circling back to the lake. The Quinault region is renowned for its huge trees. Close to the village is a 191ft Sitka spruce (purported to be up to 1000 years old), and nearby are the world's largest red cedar, Douglas fir and mountain hemlock trees.
Beyond the lake, both N Shore Rd and S Shore Rd continue up the Quinault River Valley before merging at a bridge just past Bunch Falls. From here, more adventurous hikers can sally forth into the backcountry. The area's sparkling highlight is the Enchanted Valley Trail.
The classic Seattle Press Expedition Hike passes through the North Fork Quinault River valley to join the lengthy Elwha River trail system further north.