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Hesman
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PostFri Aug 09, 2019 8:28 pm 
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Armed with three vacation days attached to my weekend, I had five days to have some fun adventuring in the Olympic Mountains. For the last few months I had been tossing around the idea of going on a multi day hike somewhere or going on several shorter hikes on the west side of the Olympic Mountains. The later eventually won out in the long run. Over the last few years I have been wanting to hike several trails that were 10 miles or less round trip on the west side of the Olympics. Most of the trails I wanted to accomplish were not feasible to do as day hikes if I were to drive to the trailhead and return home in the same day. All of the trails that I wanted to do, I had yet to hike and needed to be marked off on my map.

Quinault National Recreation Trails

I parked at the parking lot for the Rainforest Nature Trail fairly early in the morning since I had camped at the North Fork Campground the previous night. I hiked the trail going in the counterclockwise direction. Since I started early in the day I had the trails mostly to myself to admire the big trees. It wasn’t long before I crossed Willaby Creek and not long afterwards walked on some boardwalk through a cedar bog. The trail soon crossed Falls Creek near a trail junction with a trail that led downwards to the Quinault Lodge. I did not take that trail, but continued onwards towards Cascade Creek and the trail junction with the Gatton Creek Trail. I took the Gatton Creek Trail to the parking lot across the road from Gatton Creek Campground. I walked along the road for about half a mile to where I was able to regain the Quinault Recreation Trail near the Falls Creek Campground. Here the trail wound its way along the shores of Lake Quinault. I soon passed in front of the Quinault Lodge and continued onwards looking for a spot along the shores of the lake to munch my lunch. I soon found a spot and afterwards made my way to Willaby Creek Campground and not long afterwards the parking lot where my car waited for me.


Sams River Loop Trail

After Lake Quinault, I headed to the Queets Campground for the night. When I arrived and had claimed a campsite, I had enough time to hike the Sams River Loop Trail. At the beginning of the trail, a path led down to the shores of the Queets River. I took the path down to the river and stood next to where the Sams River flowed into the Queets. I saw that the Queets was running rather low for the Queets and it looked like a good depth for fording the river immediately upstream of the Sams River. After fording the Sams River of course, which was running very shallow where it flowed over rocks as it entered the Queets. After checking out the rivers, I returned to the Sams River Loop and began hiking it clockwise. This trail is nice and flat and it didn’t take long to complete the hike. Along the way I hiked through a couple of meadows where old homesteads had once been and past the Queets Ranger Station. Not long after passing the ranger station, the trail comes to the edge of the Queets River and follows the Queets back to the campground.


South Fork Hoh Trail

The next trail on my list of hikes to accomplish was the South Fork Hoh. I have been wanting to do this hike for several years, but the long drive to get to the trailhead and short trail always got me procrastinating in doing this hike. As I was getting things together for the hike at the trailhead, a truck with a camper arrives at the trailhead. The occupants of the truck, an older couple named Dick and Olivia, and I were surprised to see each other. Later in the day we commented to each other that none of us were expecting to see anyone else on the trail since it was the middle of the week. The three of us started hiking at the same time with Olivia and Dick leading the way, we would pretty much hike the entire trail together. Once we began hiking in the national park we were continuously enamored with the huge spruce trees we saw. Dick commented that he thought that some of the spruce trees on the South Fork Hoh were bigger than the world record spruce tree on the shore of Lake Quinault. We hiked for a little over two hours until the trail petered out amongst some rocks. We backtracked a few hundred feet to a spot where we could access the gravel bars of the river to eat some lunch and enjoy the warm sun. Upon return to my car, I have to say that the South Fork Hoh is one of my favorite trails on the west side of the Olympic Mountains.


Sol Duc Falls Loop

Lastly, there was a section of trail I had yet to hike between the Sol Duc Campground and the parking lot at the end of the Sol Duc Road. Of course I had to make it a longer hike than I needed it to be. I found a spot to park my car at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, gathered a few things in my rucksack and began hiking up the Lovers Lane trail towards Sol Duc Falls. It had been about 20 years since I had last hiked the Lovers Lane trail and I did not remember any of the trail, so it was like hiking it for the first time. I hardly saw anyone on this trail. But, of course, there were plenty of people when I finally made it to Sol Duc Falls. I took a few pictures of the falls before continuing on down the trail past the shelter near the falls towards the parking lot where everyone starts from when they hike to Sol Duc Falls. Just before reaching the parking lot, there is a trail that splits off to the left that leads to the Sol Duc Campground. It was this section of trail that I had never hiked before. Now I have and it is marked off on the map.


Lastly a short video. My apologies for the shakiness of some of the video since I am still experimenting shooting video on hikes.


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You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. - Abraham Lincoln
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Dr. Seuss
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meck
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PostSun Aug 11, 2019 8:09 pm 
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Very nice Hesman!  I really enjoyed those photos; they really capture iconic "feelings" of the Oly rain forests (lush green leaves, moss, and treelined "hallways").

My wife and I hiked the south fork Hoh trail last year around this time, and tried to venture beyond the rock/collapse area.  We made it another ~0.5 miles I think, but we weren't really sure that it we were on the trail after that point, so you guys made a good call stopping there. We too ran into two other parties that day mid-week (really weren't expecting to see anyone else...)

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Sky Hiker
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PostMon Aug 12, 2019 5:41 am 
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up.gif
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Sky Hiker
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PostMon Aug 12, 2019 5:49 am 
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Pretty area
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Hiker Mama
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 9:44 pm 
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I'm glad to see you getting out! I like your idea of car camping and doing a bunch of smaller hikes.  You get the joy of hiking plus the comfort of camping.  up.gif Those trails are on my list, too.

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PostFri Aug 16, 2019 12:03 am 
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Sams - great little trail all year round.

There's others up there in that valley as well. Just not printed on maps or written about in online forums. wink.gif

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Hesman
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PostFri Aug 16, 2019 7:53 am 
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Hiker Mama wrote:
I like your idea of car camping and doing a bunch of smaller hikes.

As I get older, car camping and doing day hikes have become more appealing versus putting a big ol’ heavy pack on my back.

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You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. - Abraham Lincoln
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Dr. Seuss
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