Quinault Area Trails in Olympic National Park

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Quinault Trails

The hiking trails in the rain-soaked Quinault area lead through beautiful old-growth forest, past immense trees, and close to picturesque Lake Quinault, an area rich in beauty and Native American history.

What trails should I hike in the Quinault area?

Quinault Lake Loop Trail
Covering the Lower Quinault River Valley, this not-so-difficult trail places hikers in a canopy of ferns and mosses, hanging from trees that are nearly too tall to see the top. In addition, Cascade Falls on the road back to the lodge is a beautiful sight to behold! Furthermore, the trail is wide and well-marked, is suitable for kids, and allows leashed dogs. It can get busy on the weekends and when the weather is particularly nice. 

  • Distance: 4 miles 
  • Average time: 1.5 to 2 hours 
  • Elevation Gain: 280 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Trail type: loop 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, head west on US-101 past Forks to South Shore Road. Turn left and drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead on the right side of the road.

Skyline Ridge Trail
This trail puts hikers on the ridge the separates the Queets and Quinault Valleys. As a matter of fact, it runs the entire length of the ridge. That makes it a vigorous backpacking trip and one that is best accomplished by experienced hikers. The views from the ridge are the best in the area and include a non-stop peek at Mt. Olympus and the Pacific Ocean. Access this trail from either the Three Lakes Trail or the North Fork Quinault Trail. 

  • Distance: 45 miles 
  • Average Time: 5-6 days or longer 
  • Elevation Gain: 11,550 feet 
  • Difficulty: most strenuous 
  • Trail type: one-way 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, travel west on US-101 past Forks to North Shore Road at Lake Quinault. Turn left and drive 17 miles to North Fork Ranger Station at the end of the road to the trailhead.

North Fork Quinault Trail
Taking trekkers from the North Fork Ranger Station to Low Divide, this primary trail – as its name indicates – follows the North Fork of the river, eventually heading to the alpine country near beautiful Lakes Mary and Margaret. Hike through enormous Sitka spruce and red cedars, over the river, and across a series of open meadows to your destination. 

  • Distance: 16.4 miles 
  • Average time: overnight 
  • Elevation gain: 3,776 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Trail type: one-way 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, take US-101 west past Forks to Lake Quinault South Shore Road. Travel 13.5 miles on this road until you come to a bridge that crosses the river. Turn left to cross and then make an immediate right on North Shore Road. Continue 3.3 miles to the ranger’s station and trail head.

Irely Lake Trail
Looking for a short trail with lots of photo opportunities? This is it! If you’re not up for a long hike but still want to explore the rainforest landscape, check out this quick trek to shallow Irely Lake. It’s ideal for bird watchers and wildlife aficionados and is fine for kids and novice hikers. If you want more of a challenge, continue on for another 4 miles to Big Creek, a thundering body of water that earns its name. 

  • Distance: 1.1 miles 
  • Average Time: 30-45 minutes 
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Trail type: out-and-back 
  • Trailhead: From Port Angeles, take 101 west past Forks and turn right on South Shore Road, located 1 mile south of Amanda Park. Proceed for 13.5 miles, coming to the Quinault River Bridge. Turn left and cross the bridge. Then immediately turn right onto the North Shore Road. Drive 2.9 miles to a parking area located on the right. The trail begins on the left side of the road.