Copyright 2009 - 2012 by Mario D. Vaden | Image: Kalaloch western redcedar
Olympic National Park is a favorite destination included on my Oregon Hiking page index. The park and forest is in northwest Washington, United States. It includes mountains, waterfalls and rainforest averaging at least 12 of rain per year with a few rain shadows of 25'.
Outside Oregon, I decided to make Olympic National Park near Quinault, an exploring area, in addtion to the Coast Redwoods where I also go.
The Olympic National Park is very large. There are 922,561 acres. Near 15% the size of the state of Hawaii. With something to enjoy every season.
My first visit to Olypic National, was during unusually cold weather in winter with temps of 19 ° - 29 ° F., but I still had a great time. Camped the first night at a virtually vacant campground overlooking the ocean near Kalaloch, listening to the waves. Next morning, I found the Kalaloch Big Cedar and explored forest nearby.
Afterward, I explored near Lake Quinault, and photographed deer, elk, forest, cedar and spruce. The historic Kestner Homestead area has maples with festoons of moss and Selaginella: sort of a Hall of Mosses south.
Since this park is so enormous, I'm simply going to give a thumbs up and share local resources for the area as I find them. It's going to take years or decades to really enjoy the highlights for Olympic National Park. It's remote, huge and much of it is wilderness.
One suggestion: ask online about this park at backpacker and hiking forums. Travel websites will definitely tell you about lodging and landmarks. But if you want to look at conifers, waterfalls and trails, take time to ask the outdoors people who hike in that region. And hiking forums are where you will get excellent information
Most people who offered suggestions told me to begin with Quinault. The park service will have plenty of information on their site.
Rain Forest Resort
One of the most comfortable night's rest I've ever had was at the Rain Forest Resort of Quinault. It's not as historic and fancy as the old lodge on south shore road, but the cabins were clean, comfortable and warm. The restaurant and lounge were actually rather nice, almost elegant. Service was excellent and everybody was friendly. The small store had a lot of stuff in it. And there was fuel just a couple of minutes away. This will most likely be my choice of lodging for future visits.
The biggest know spruce was adjacent to this place too. I measured it again in 2012, at 193.68' tall. The girth of the trunk is huge. Be sure to ask. Any local person should know where it's at.
One very easy place to see nice forest is from the parking lot where Willaby Creek crosses the South Shore Rd. by Quinault. A couple of minutes from Highway 101. Even from the parking lot, I was able to see a 270 foot tall Douglas fir. There is a short nature loop, a small gorge with waterfall, and the longer trail up Willaby Creek.
GPS coordinates for Lake Quinault south shore:
47.466899, -123.848834 Google Maps
47.466899, -123.848834 Google Earth
My first meal in Quinault was Buffalo Wings, from the Rain Forest Resort Village. The food and service was great, including information from their small store across the street
www.rainforestresort.com Salmon House Restaurant
www.visitkalaloch.com ~ Kalaloch Lodge near Hy. 101
www.olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com ~ Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail: inludes Quinault area falls, Willaby Creek Falls, Gatton Creek Falls, Bunch Creek Falls, Merriman Falls, and Enchanted Valley of 10,000 Waterfalls
www.lakequinault.com Lake Quinault Resort
There is a restaurant, lounge, cabins, RV park, store and suites. A number of record size conifers are not too far away, and a 9 hole golf course is like a stone throw away
Wikipedia article for Olympic National Park ............ Wikipedia article for Lake Quinault