Lake Quinault and the Quinault Rain Forest

Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault is a glacier fed, natural lake in the Quinault Rain Forest on the southern edge of Olympic National Park. The area, popular for its hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing, and more, is an easy drive south on 101 from Manitou Lodge.

Guests of Manitou Lodge are surrounded by wonderful things to see and fun places to go. The Hoh RainforestLake CrescentMarymere FallsRialto BeachLa PushForks, WA and so much more. One of the more popular and iconic attractions is nearby Lake Quinault.

Lake Quinault is a glacier-carved lake in the Quinault Valley, owned by the Quinault Indian Nation.

Lake Quinault largest sitka spruce

The lake is surrounded by the Quinault Rain Forest, one of only three temperate, coniferous rain forests in the Western Hemisphere. You’ll find some startling specimens among the mossy, old growth trees that make up the forest, too. The world’s largest Sitka Spruce is here, for example, among others that have grown unusually large. They don’t call it the “Valley of the Giants” for nothing!

Visiting the Lake Quinault Area

Like most of the Olympic Peninsula, there is no end to the recreation one can enjoy at Lake Quinault. There are miles of hiking trails to explore, waterfalls to see, the lake for boating and fishing, wildlife, a museum, and more.

The 31 mile (50km) Quinault Rain Forest Loop is a nice introduction to the Quinault Valley. Simply follow the North Shore Road until it turns and becomes the South Shore Road – or vice versa. This easy drive will take you all the way around the lake, as well as some distance up the Quinault River into Olympic National Park. The Quinault Rain Forest Loop includes lots of pullouts for waterfalls, trailheads, giant trees, and wildlife like elk, deer, and bald eagles.

Looking to get some hiking in? Great idea! The lake and forest are home to numerous hiking trails, including short loops and much longer day-hikes.

A good place to start is the Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station, located some six miles (9.6km) up the North Shore Road. Here you can learn about all the area trails and decide which you’d like to explore.

Hoping to do some fishing? The lake is home to a variety of trout, including Dolly Varden, bull, and cutthroat, as well as both Chinook and Coho salmon. Catching salmon from the lake is not permitted, however. In fact, most anglers prefer fishing the Quinault River, rather than the lake.

waterfall near Lake Quinault

If boat fishing is your goal, consider hiring a guide and boat from the Quinault Tribe. All fishing or boating on the lake requires a permit from the tribe.

Getting There

Getting to Lake Quinault from Manitou Lodge is a snap.

  • Simply head towards Forks from Manitou Lodge and make a right onto US-101, heading south.
  • Stay on US-101 S for around 66 miles (106km), then turn left onto 9.
  • Stay on 9 for a little over a mile (1.6km) until you come to 93400/South Shore Road.
  • Take the slight left onto South Shore Road and follow it for about a half mile (0.8km) or until you see Olympic National Forest signs. A large parking area with trailheads is just ahead on your left.

The drive takes around an hour and a half, one way. Consider making a day trip of it and pack a lunch to enjoy at the lake. When you’re done, simply head back up 101 to your comfy Olympic National Park accommodations at Manitou Lodge!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *