Pacific Beach makes a great base for visiting Lake Quinault. Lake Quinault is the pearl of Washington
State with its deep sparkling blue waters, dark green forested hills coming down to the waterline,
moss-draped temperate rain forests, and the high snow-capped Olympic peaks in the distance. The lake
is reached in just a 30 minute drive (north on Highway 109, east on the Moclips Highway, and north on
Highway 101). It could take you 3-4 visits or more to enjoy all the attractions of the area. Make sure to end
your day back at the beach for the sunset.
You can drive a 31 mile loop around the lake and up into the river valley above. Here are the highlights
along the way:
There's a nice view from the western end of the lake through a clearcut. It's one of the few spots where you
can see the Olympic peaks beyond the nearby hills.
This would be a separate day trip to itself: continue past the North Shore Road on Highway 101, the
highway bends away to the west, and after one mile you reach Prairie Creek Road, a dirt road, but marked.
Turn into this road and set your mileage counter to zero. You will encounter two forks in the road. Bear to
the right each time. The second fork is labeled for Higley Peak. After this you climb steeply into the hills.
You'll enjoy many fine views of the valleys below and the snowy Olympic peaks (on a clear day). At the 9.5
mile mark the road opens up into a clearing. Park here and hunt for the trail head at the southwest corner.
The trail head is overgrown and the sign has fallen down, but past this entrance the trail is in good
condition. A half mile climb brings you to the top. It appears there used to be a good view down onto the
lake here, but this is mostly overgrown. Still, the forest is pretty and along the way you pass a gigantic,
moss-covered granite boulder left over from the ice age. Back at the car, continue on to the 12.5 mile mark.
Here you can see a fine view of the eastern end of the lake and the river flowing into it. The road continues
beyond this point, but I haven't explored that far. Don't try this trip before mid July. At the end of June we
were stopped by snow.
Quinault Big Cedar
Moving clockwise around the lake down the North Shore Road, the first attraction is the Quinault Big Cedar.
Park on the road and hike a half mile to the tree. The tree is a thousand year relic. You can't tell any more
that it is a cedar - all the bark is gone. High up in the air a couple hundred feet you can see a few live
branches. The tree is hollow with enough room for half a dozen people to stand inside.
A little further down the North Shore Road, July Creek is one of the prettiest places you'll ever find to have a
picnic. One particular table has a commanding view of the lake. Some other picnic tables are set among
towering trees. On the shore is a rocky beach. Around some bushes and over some logs you can reach
the mouth of the creek. From this spot you have a panoramic, unobstructed view of the whole lake, as the
creek empties out onto a small point.
Kestner Homestead and Maple Glade Trail
Beyond the eastern end of the lake along the North Shore Road a sign reads "Maple Glade Trail". This is a
3/4 mile loop trail that winds through a beautiful moss-draped maple forest. Half way through you come out
to the open fields, split rail fences, and dilapidated buildings of the Kestner Homestead, a farm established
in the early 1900s that the park service is restoring.
Quinault River Valley to the South Shore Road
Beyond the Kestner Homestead the road turns into a dirt and gravel road. However, it is well-maintained,
so there's no reason to avoid it. The views of the narrow river valley here are very beautiful. In June you can
still see snow high up in the hills. After several miles you reach a bridge that crosses over to the South
Shore Road. Nearby to the bridge is a big sand bank my kids enjoyed playing on. Three waterfalls are
found along this road - visible from the road.
On the grounds of the Rain Forest Resort Village near the shore of the lake stands the Big Spruce, another
thousand year old world record size tree. A small parking lot is provided up on the South Shore Road and a
short trail leads you to the tree. This tree looks vigorous and healthy compared to the Big Cedar.
Lake Quinault Lodge
The beautiful 80 year old lodge sits on a magnificent site above the lake with a rolling green lawn reaching
down to the shore. Inside you can enjoy the large brick fireplace, woodwork and Indian carvings, gift shop,
and an excellent restaurant, the Roosevelt Room. FDR visited the lodge in 1937.
Quinault Rain Forest Trail
Nearby to the lodge is a half mile loop trail through the rain forest. This is very similar to the better known
Hoh Rain Forest to the north with moss-draped trees and high Spruce trees reaching up near to 300 feet.
Pony Bridge Trail
This is my new favorite hike in the Lake Quinault area. From the junction of highway 101 and the South
Shore Road, drive 18.5 miles to the very end of the South Shore Road just passed the Graves Creek
campground. The trail climbs steadily but gradually for 2 miles. One mile in is a pleasant, grassy
meadow. At the two mile point is an old, rotting picnic table. From that point, the trail descends for half a
mile, arriving at the bridge. The Pony Bridge spans a narrow canyon, where the East Fork Quinault River is
forced to rush through at tremendous speed. The greenery, the rocks, the noise all make for an exciting
location. We clambered down a gully to a small beach. There's a small waterfall here where you can
refresh yourself on a hot day.
There are further trails on the south shore, which I shall report on after future visits.
We enjoyed a marvelous kayak trip on the lake in July 2010. Read all about kayaking on Lake Quinault here:
Bob's Pacific Beach House: Highlights of the House
Spectacular high bluff ocean view. Less than half mile walk to wide, sandy beach. Beautiful three bedroom
house built in 2007. Located in Pacific Beach, Washington: 2 1/2 hours from Seattle, 3 hours from Portland,
25 minutes north of Ocean Shores. This is the prettiest section of the Washington coast with a windswept
forest on a high bluff, looking down on the beach. Awesome sunsets. Sorry, no pets.
The house features a large upper deck with wide ocean and sunset view, lower private deck with view,
three king beds and a queen sleeper sofa, three HDTVs with DVD players and cable programming,
wireless high speed Internet, stereo with four in-wall surround speakers and iPod dock, all new furnishings
in 2007, fully stocked kitchen with granite slab counters and stainless steel appliances, large master suite
with double- headed travertine tile shower, dark rich Brazilian cherry wood hardwood floors throughout the
house, art glass lighting, ceiling fans, propane fireplace, two car garage, laundry room, deck furniture,
charcoal grill with all supplies.
Bob's Pacific Beach House
Great Ocean View, Short Walk to Beach,
3 King Size Beds, House Built in 2007.
Located in Pacific Beach, WA
- just north of Ocean Shores.
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