Want to experience the Olympic National Park rainforest without having to drive as far as the Hoh? The Lake Quinault Lodge and neighboring trails can give you a fantastic experience just a few miles off of Highway 101. Right on Lake Quinault, this area is perfect for kids, new hikers, locals and tourists alike. Both educational and conveniently located, this is a great destination all year. With a trail system with 8 miles of trails to numerous destinations, a lodge, gift shop and general store, this is truly a hidden gem.
Lake Quinault Lodge is one of the few lodges in the Olympic National Park, and while it might not have all of the newest amenities, it does have a long history, classic architecture and a perfect location. It was built in 1926, mirroring the architecture of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to the area in 1937, it is rumored that he liked it so much that it led him to make the area a National Park. Whether or not that is true, the area is gorgeous and should be seen.
Near the Lodge is the site of the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce. This tree, said to be over 1,000 years old, stands at over 191 feet and is over 58 feet in circumference. Stand next to it, climbs the roots and feel dwarfed by this massive monster. This is a must see, and located less than a quarter mile from the road, you have no excuse.
Also near the Lake Quinault Lodge is the Loop trail to a Cedar bog and Cascade Falls. This loop is 3.9 miles, but is perfect to get to know the area. Close to the cars, with options to make it shorter, this loop trail gets you to towering cedar tree, beautiful creeks and a gorgeous little waterfall surrounded by deep green mosses, ferns and trees. The loop trail puts you on a half-mile Rainforest Nature Trail that is a fantastic destination for kinds or hikers with limited ability.
The Lake Quinault Lodge area is much like Staircase, Kalaloch or Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park and should be treated as such. This should be a destination you visit often, taking out of town visitors and taking yourself for every season.
With the South Shore and North Shore Drives serving as a scenic drive and the Lodge area acting as shirt hikes, this is a great introduction to the Olympic Peninsula and the rainforest.
Tips: Drive the Lake Quinault Loop. It is best seen in the early morning and an hour before sunset. Bear, elk, eagles, salmon and deer can be seen.
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