We recently took a family trip to the Quinault Rain Forest in the Olympic National Forest. The Olympic National Forest has two temperate rain forests, the Quinault and the Hoh. I have not been to the Hoh but from my experience in the Quinault, I will make a trip sometime. The unique things about this forest is it gets between 10 to 15 feet of rainfall each year. The temperature is much more moderate than the rest of the state and home to some of the most amazing trees and natural beauty you will ever see. A short hike in the forest will get you views of scores of small waterfalls and the most amazing shades of green you will ever see in nature. Huge Douglas firs, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock dominate the upper canopy of the forest and provide shade to the maple and alder trees below. Berries, ferns and hanging moss can be seen everywhere on the trails.
We stayed in cabins right on Lake Quinault. I usually don’t enjoy summer camping because of the bugs but we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of mosquitos or any bugs. The wind might have contributed to that somewhat as it would get pretty windy after about 10am each day until nightfall. It didn’t rain the entire 4 day trip though a marine layer is present in the morning and much of each day.
Since the winds picked up each day it meant early morning paddling and later in the day hikes and exploration. I kept feeling like we should be seeing more wildlife, we knew they were there but only saw a few birds (eagles, osprey, ravens, loons, herons, robins and turkey vultures). Finally on the second day of paddling we went to the river mouth for the lake and landed at the mouth. In the mud flats we saw every wildlife track you could imagine in one place. We didn’t see the creatures that matched the prints but could identify Roosevelt elk, raccoons, heron, deer, and possibly bobcat tracks.
I had hoped to make it back at sunset to this spot but the winds made it difficult. I made it close the next morning and spotted a raccoon washing something next to the lake.
The nicest place to stay in the area is the Lake Quinault Lodge. We decided to paddle there for coffee one morning and take some pictures. The lodge was built in 1926 but its real place in history came when FDR visited in 1937 on a fact finding mission. Nine months after his visit he signed a bill establishing the Olympic National Park and preserving this very special place forever.
After one of our morning paddles ended early because of the wind, we decided to day trip out to the beach. Washington beaches are the perfect place to walk for miles at low tide and explore tide pools, watch birds, sea life and take in the dramatic cliffs and rock formations. Ruby beach is the best beach that is easily accessible from the main highway. Here we watched sea otters and seals playing offshore as eagles and pelicans soared overhead. Unfortunately, we also watched a dead otter wash up on the beach. I will spare you that picture!
All in all, if you are an outdoor enthusiast I would highly recommend exploring the coast of Washington (and California and Oregon for that matter) and the Olympic National Forest. It is so remote that even at it’s busiest times you can still find your own private paradise and solitude. Hope you enjoyed this little tour.