Enchanted Valley Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley Olympic National Park

 A famous chalet is located along the Enchanted Valley Olympic National Park route, which also features towering mountains with several waterfalls and rich old-growth rainforests. There is a lot you need to know about travel capsule wardobe for this trip before you start the path, from permits to black bears and backcountry camping. The Enchanted Valley is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park, with the mountains and waterfalls of the Enchanted Valley in the distance. 

How far does the Enchanted Valley Olympic National Park trail go? 

Due to its length, the majority of climbers frequently take it as at least an overnight expedition. Most hikers and trail runners will complete the course in between 10 and 15 hours on average, depending on their level of fitness and whether they are carrying camping equipment for remote locations. Dogs are not allowed on the trail, sorry. It serves to safeguard both the puppies and the elk, bears, and deer-rich Quinault habitat. 

Does the Enchanted Valley hike require a permit? 

You will require an Olympic National Park wilderness permit if you intend to camp along the trail. Go to the Recreation.gov permit webpage, choose “Quinault” as your starting location, then select the dates for the campsites you want to stay at along the Enchanted Valley route (more on that below) to obtain your permit.

You will need an interagency pass, such as my favorite America the Beautiful Pass (which, for just $80, will get you into 2,000+ national parks and other federally managed recreation areas for a whole YEAR! ), in order to park at the trailhead, whether or not you plan to camp along the route. 

What’s up with that chalet, and what is the Enchanted Valley? 

Without a doubt, the Enchanted Valley, a vast meadow located right in the middle of the Quinault rainforest, is the highlight of the entire 29-mile trek. This plain is surrounded by a wall of mountains that rise suddenly out of the ground and are covered in dozens upon dozens of waterfalls on all sides.

It’s no wonder that many people frequently refer to this area as The Valley of 10,000 Falls! Hikers are warmly welcomed when they arrive at the Enchanted Valley Chalet, a primitive yet extremely beautiful lodge in the center of the valley. The chalet has been operating in that manner for almost a century, which is extremely cool, so the travel blanket is the best companion for you. 

How do you get to the trailhead for Enchanted Valley?

 The Quinault Rainforest, which is one of the locations most visitors to Olympic National Park view, is home to the Enchanted Valley trailhead, also known as the Graves Creek trailhead. You can reach from Seattle or Portland in about three and a half hours by car, respectively, and situated along the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula Loop. The tiny settlement of Quinault is the final town you’ll see before beginning your drive through the breathtakingly beautiful Quinault Rainforest to the trailhead. 

Olympic National Park’s Quinault River 

If you need to pick up any last-minute supplies, the Quinault Mercantile is directly across the street and sells snacks, sandwiches, and camping equipment. If you arrive in Quinault late and require a place to stay the night before you begin your backpacking adventure (due to the road’s pretty nasty potholes), there is also a charming motel here, the Lake Quinault Lodge.

Olympic National Park's Quinault River 
Olympic National Park's Quinault River 

Given that you won’t have many options after this point, I’d advise filling up your tank in Aberdeen, a town 65 miles east of the trailhead. The only other gas station is a few miles west of where you’d turn towards Quinault, but it close, and previous reviewers have repeatedly complained about having problems with the pumps. From here, you will continue along the shores of Lake Quinault and eventually the Quinault River as the surrounding forest gets denser.

There are some enormous potholes along the way, and the paved road finally degrades to gravel. The Graves Creek Campground, which is directly adjacent to the parking area for the trailhead, is where the road eventually comes to an end. It is a well-liked campground where hikers can spend the night before beginning their journey; all sites are $20 and available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Expectations while hiking the Enchanted Valley Trail 

One of the best hikes in Olympic National Park is the Enchanted Valley Trail. Which almost entirely follows the curving Quinault River and passes through the breathtaking Quinault Rainforest. It is characterized by towering trees covered in moss, enormous ancient ferns, and an abundance of vibrant wildflowers.

Enchanted Valley Trail

There are also many water elements on the trail, including stream crossings, many little waterfalls, and wood bridges over babbling brooks. You won’t come across any rock scrambling or anything else particularly technical. A few short sections of deep muck proved to be the most challenging “obstacle” we faced on the trail.

If you have waterproof footwear, you won’t experience any issues. It’s also likely that you’ll come across some spots where strong winds have uprooted large trees. But usually, they cut into smaller pieces, or there is a passage around them. Otherwise, the trail is generally flat with a few little rolling hills the entire way, though there is undoubtedly some elevation gain. It is simply long, which is its main flaw.

This trail is accessible to a wide range of skill levels because it is “easy” (except for the length), especially if you can spread the trip out over a few days. At our campsite in Enchanted Valley, Justin and I met a 75-year-old man after driving past families with young children. The majority of hikers with average fitness can complete this journey as long as they allow themselves plenty of time on the trail and come prepared.

The Campgrounds on the Enchanted Valley Trail 

Pony Bridge Camp 

Pony Bridge camp

It is a great campground near the Quinault River, where you’ll find a stunning gorge with fern-lined walls about two miles in.So you can enjoy your lunch with your camping stove. The sites are up the hill and over the bridge. A new bathroom is also there, which is always a plus. The drawback is that it’s practically unnecessary to spend the night here due to how close it is to the trailhead.

O’Neil Creek Camp 

O’Neil Creek Camp 

We chose to spend the first night of our two-night stay here because it is approximately halfway between the trailhead and the Enchanted Valley. There is a restroom at O’Neil Creek, which is a plus. Since most of the locations are along the river, there is also easy access to the water to refill your travel water bottle .

 Pyrites Creek Camp 

 Pyrites Creek Camp 

If you have a choice, Pyrites Creek is finer than O’Neil Creek. The Pyrite sites hidden in the trees above the river on either side of the bridge across the creek. Some are located right next to the route, but the east side (far side) ones are farther down the path and are more private. The drawback is that there is no bathroom, so you’ll need to bring the items you’ll need to relieve yourself in the woods.

The Enchanted Valley 

It is a really pleasant area to spend the night because of the steep valley walls on your left, which include various waterfalls and verdant patches, the rocky mountain peaks at the opposite end of the valley, and the Quinault River running through the center of it all.

For the Enchanted Valley Trail, obtaining a backcountry permit 

For you to spend the night here in the forest, you need a backcountry permit. All permits were given electronically in 2021, and reservations were necessary. The Enchanted Valley wilderness permit is not as tough to obtain as some other backpacking permits in Washington (looking at you, Enchantments).

The comparatively high quotas indicate two things. You should be able to obtain permission if you need one. You will likely share the backcountry with a lot of other people as a direct result of how simple it is to obtain a permit. 

Plan on making reservations far in advance.

 But it doesn’t have to be precisely six months before the permission window opens. That’s how some licenses and campgrounds operate, and it irritates me to no end. A non-refundable $6 reservation fee is added to the $8 per person, per night price of backcountry permits. A permit can be obtained through a simple process. At 7:00 a.m. PST, permits are given sporadically and six months in advance. 

Advice for Hiking in Olympic National Park’s Enchanted Valley

Observe crowds

Up to 200 of your new closest friends will need to share the wilderness with you, so be ready. It is hardly the backcountry solitude you’re hoping for, especially on the summer weekends when there are a ton of backpackers in the valley. Go throughout the week or early or late in the season when there will be fewer people if you want to avoid crowds.

 Consider the Trail Conditions 

The trail is in excellent shape all around. Robust footbridges cover the several brook crossings you’ll need to make, and the route is mainly level and well-maintained. The number of downed trees is the only thing to pay attention to. At least ten downed trees were blocking the trail when we were trekking. 

Black bears: Be prepared. 

For our bear pals, this entire region—which is a superb berry country—is like heaven on earth. It would help if you gave any bears you came across plenty of room. To store your food on this trek, you need a bear canister.

Even though the campsites have bear wire, I’d still go with a bear canister. A bear canister is available for hire at the WIC, or Wilderness Information Center. Along with your food, keep everything else that might have a slight odor inside that canister at all times when you’re not actively using it, such as toothpaste, sunscreen, and other personal care products.

 Water access is abundant along

 The trail mostly follows the East Fork of the Quinault River. The river is going fortunately quickly enough to be safe, so be sure to get it from there and treat or filter it before drinking.

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