We took off for the wonderful Olympic rainforest again this weekend to kick off spring break. We got to the Queet's campground at 10 and set up camp before we started our hike. It was sure nice to be able to drive all the way there, the road is in good shape. Last year we had to walk the road several miles to get to the trailhead. We got started at the Queets Spruce, the largest spruce in the world. Others claim the record but this one holds it. We then set off for the Sam's River trail. It starts off of Sam's Loop trail but leaves it to follow the river. I knew this could be a rough trail since it is reported that it hasn't been maintained in years. To my surprise, a little work has been done a couple miles in to it.
The trail was hard to find most of the time but since it travels through mostly grassy maples groves, it wasn't too bad. This trail had the most elk dropping I've ever seen. The trail was littered with it. They also do a great job keeping the undergrowth from getting out of hand. At one spot along the river, my wife and kids wanted to rest and build a fire, so I went on by myself for a little while longer. I went through some very thick brush and not being able to stay on the faint trail for too long before turning around. There was actually some flagging where I turned around about 3 miles into the trail. We battled the rain off and on the whole hike so we all hurried back to camp to start a warm fire and eat dinner.
6.5 miles on Sam's River
3/29 Queets River
It got real cold last night and in the morning there was a little ice on our tent. So we had to get moving to stay warm. Rose stayed back at the campsite while the boys and I went for the Queets trail. We crossed it last year by raft so we brought it along this year and did it again. We crossed Sam's river first and then walked upstream for a while so we could easily paddle to the other side of the Queets while the current took us down. It was a breeze and we stashed the raft and started on the hike. This trail was maintained last year, so there wasn't any big problems except for the mud.
The sun was out and it finally felt like spring. We quickly passed the meadow where there was an old homestead. We could see the snow covered ridge to the north and the snow level got real low yesterday. At coal creek, I decided to go see the Queets fir again to see if it sevived another winter. The trail also maintained last year, so it was an easy side trip to the tree. It was still there and still impressive to see. This is the fattest doug fir in the world at 16 feet wide.
We got back to the main trail and continued toward spruce bottom shelter. The trail was still in good shape and I could even see that there were a couple of other bootprints that have ventured this way recently. We got closer to the river and saw several nice camp spots for some backpacking ideas that I've got. A little past the shelter area, which I saw no shelter there, we turned around and headed back. The highlight off the return trip was a herd of elk the we ran into a couple of times. They would never let us get too close but it was fun to see them. I would guess about 50-75 of them. We would watch each other for a while and then keep going our own ways. The kids were excited to get back in the raft and float back to the other side.
I have a crappy Sevylor 1 person "kayak" inflatable that I was thinking of using.
Was the current pretty strong in pushing you downstream?
Great hike and pictures.
Makes me want to head out right now!
That's the second time I've crossed using a plain 3 person raft. To make it easier, I cross Sam's River first before it runs into the Queets. It was only about 40' wide where we crossed. Then walk up the side of the Queets river a hundred yards or so and easily raft across despite the current. It's much wider, maybe 100' across but up the river a little there aren't any rapids. The current wasn't too bad and no one got wet getting across both rivers. I paddled the whole time and didn't go too far downstream. I'm sure your kayak would do just fine.
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