Olympic National Forest
Quinault Auto Tour
The Quinault Ranger District located on the west side of the Peninsula offers an auto tour through the beautiful Quinault rain forest. Start the 31-mile tour from the Quinault Ranger Station where maps and brochures are available. Traveling northeast from the station, the tour meanders through an outstanding rain forest setting of towering trees with lush, green, draping mosses and lichens and ferns scattered throughout the forest floor. Gatton Creek Campground offers picnic areas and access to the water's edge.
Farther up the road, which parallels the beautiful Quinault River, is the Colonel Bob Wilderness trailhead and Merriman Falls. Keep your eyes "peeled" for views of magnificent Roosevelt elk and don't miss a small, but breathtaking waterfall at the Olympic National Park boundary, 9.8 miles from your origin.
At about the 20-mile mark, make a point to take a small "stretch" break at the Olympic National Park's Quinault River Ranger Station, or explore the 1/2-mile Maple Glade Nature Trail. Your auto journey eventually joins Hwy 101 for a couple of miles before crossing the Quinault River Bridge. Turning left and traveling a short distance brings you back around to the South Shore Road passing the Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail. This trail offers a short 1/2-mile loop interpretive trail that also connects to a longer five-mile loop through the rain forest. The nearby Willaby Campground (near journey's end) offers a resting area with camping and picnic facilities, or travel to the final destination point and enjoy the ambiance of the historic Lake Quinault Lodge, which offers food, rooms, fantastic views of the lake and a gift shop. Enjoy your journey!!
Quilcene Auto Tour
The Quilcene Ranger District offers two fascinating auto tours complete with cassette tapes and booklets that may be checked out at the Ranger Station in Quilcene. Along each tour, there are interesting sites and scenic vistas where you are directed to pull off the road and listen as the taped guide explains about the area. Each tour takes approximately three hours and due to the narrow, graveled roads, recreation vehicles are not recommended.
Tour A leads over Bon Jon Pass, past Mt. Zion and into a thick doghair forest. The focus of this tour is on past and present forest management practices and the many issues involved in "ecosystem management." It includes stops at Lords Lake, Bon Jon ponds and Mt. Zion trail, and incorporates a tree identification activity.
Tour B leads you through the history of Snow Creek tree plantations, over Bear Mountain and into East Crossing Campground. It highlights the history of the area and focuses on how wildlife, fisheries and watershed issues have changed forest management practices. This tour also stops at Lords Lake and proceeds from there to various stops en route to East Crossing.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication