This trail follows the North Fork Quinault River 16.5 miles to its headwaters on Low Divide. It begins in rain forest and ends at 3,600 feet in subalpine meadows. The track provides access to the southern Olympic Mountains. A long loop hike can be formed by using the Skyline Ridge Trail or Elip Creek Trail in conjunction with the North Fork Quinault Trail.
Begin following the North Fork Quinault Trail northward from the roads end. The track stays in the lush bottomland of the river for the first two and a half miles. At this point is Wolf Bar Camp on the northern bank of the river. Past the camp the trail ascends the hillside above the river. Four miles from the trailhead Rustler Creek, a major tributary to the North Fork Quinault River, enters the river. The trail turns slightly westward following the drainage on a terrace above the river and crosses Wild Rose Creek.
A short distance beyond Wild Rose Creek lies Halfway House. This camping area lies on the site of a structure once used to house travelers descending from Low Divide. The river is relatively tranquil along this stretch downstream from a deep gorge.
Continuing northwestward the trail begins to round a large curve in the waterway. A deep canyon has been cut by the river along this curve. On the western bank of the waterway, where the trail traverses above the river, several streams empty into the North Fork Quinault. Amidst this canyon is Elip Creek Camp and trail junction. The camp lies immediately south of the trail junction approximately six and a half miles from the trailhead.
At the Elip Creek trail junction follow the right side of the fork as it meanders up and down to the next creek crossing. After crossing Three Prune Creek the trail turns slightly eastward as it continues around the curve in the river. Approximately two miles beyond Elip Creek Camp the trail reaches Trapper Camp on a terrace above the river. Passing this camp the trail ascends slightly along a steep hillside then contours to Twelvemile Camp approximately 11.5 miles from the trailhead. Mt. Lawson lies across the stream from this camp.
The track leaves the riverside beyond Twelvemile Camp ascending steadily for one mile to a crossing of the North Fork Quinault River. Sixteenmile Camp lies on the eastern bank of the river immediately after the crossing. This camp site lies 12 miles from the North Fork Trailhead. The route once had a different beginning point from which it was 16 miles to this camping site.
North of Sixteenmile Camp the trail parallels the river for approximately one half mile then ascends the western flanks of Mt. Christie. As it rounds the mountains base the trail again reaches the riverside. It crosses Glacier Creek descending from the glaciers atop Mt. Christie approximately 14.5 miles from the trailhead. Beyond this crossing the trail ascends steeply to the head of the valley, remaining close to the riverside. Almost a mile and a half past Glacier Creek the Skyline Ridge Trail joins our route from the west. From this junction it is less than a half mile to the shelter at Low Divide.
Once the trail reaches the ranger station at Low Divide it has entered subalpine terrain. The shelter lies at the southern end of the Low Divide meadowlands. Two alpine lakes mark the summit of the divide. The Elwha River Trail leads northward into that drainage from Low Divide. The Martins Lake Trail leads eastward from the divide to another set of alpine lakes on the northern flanks of Mt. Christie.
Directions: From Northwestern shores of Quinault Lake, Turn on to North Shore Road and drive 17 miles to roads end and the North Fork Quinault Trailhead.
Elevation: 600 feet
Ending Elevation: 3,600 feet
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Olympic National Park, Washington
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