Rain Forest Trees

Editor's Note - This is the 3rd article in the 4-part series "Exploring the RV Lifestyle" with two newbies touring the Olympic Peninsula. To read the other articles about this trip, see "Getting Ready", "Ocean Shores" and "Fort Warden-Glass Beach".

Day 3 – Quinault Rain Forest

On day three of our RV journey around the Olympic Peninsula, our intent was to get to the Hoh Rain Forest and spend most of the day there. However, the saying that "the adventure is in the journey, not the destination" is so true! We started out with a road plan that first took us toward Lake Quinault. As we got closer, all kinds of interesting stops enticed us!

At Quinault, there is a visitor center and room to park your RV. The museum in town was closed so we went over to see the Lake Quinault Lodge. This lodge is very picturesque and was “built in 1926 in the grand tradition”. You definitely get a sense of relaxation and calmness. The setting is right on the lake with a spectacular view of the lake and mountains. Beautiful, peaceful and serene, you’ll want to come back and spend a couple of days there…

Lake Quinault Lodge

Quinault features the “Valley of the Rain Forest Giants” that includes six record-breaking trees and area hiking trails. Easily accessible to view is the world’s largest Sitka Spruce. As we took the short trail to see it, there were interesting trees all along the way. It’s always so hard to get perspective of these grand trees without having a person stand beside them when you take the photo. The Sitka was absolutely stunning. If you want to spend more time in this area there is the Quinault Loop Trail, the Maple Glades Trail and the Quinault Tribal Fish Hatchery to see. There’s also an RV Park in the Rain Forest Resort Village with 31 RV sites.

Pick Up the Map at the Gift Shop in Town

World's Largest Sitka Spruce Tree

Continuing our trip toward Hoh, we traveled along Hwy 101 and were enticed to stop at one of the many beautiful beaches along the coast. The Kalaloch Beach includes another lodge, cabins and RV spots. As you venture out to the shoreline, there’s an interpretive panel highlighting the whale watching opportunities from this vantage point.

Kalaloch Beach - Start of the Whale Trail

A little further along the highway, we spotted the sign “Big Cedar Tree” and had to take another small excursion. This tree was truly awesome, someone said that it was the largest red cedar until it recently split and fell. The gnarly root structure was fascinating. You could tell just how large the tree had been if you look at the trunk and the fallen part of the tree in front.

Gnarly Huge Cedar Tree

Finally getting close to the Hoh Rain Forest entrance, we knew our RV park was still further to go. We passed the entrance to the park thinking that there would be another entrance further north, closer to the park. But as we entered Forks, we knew we had missed it. It was an hour back south and it was getting late in the day. If you go north on Hwy 101, make sure you enter at the very visible main entry signs. Having so enjoyed the Quinault Rain Forest, we decided to go on to our park as we had reservations for that night.

The park was outside of Forks along the Bogachiel River that flows out to the Pacific Ocean. Most people staying at this location are there for ocean fishing. We decided to check out Rialto Beach just down the road before dinner. Although very windy, I had never seen a beach with so much driftwood! It was an incredible sight and a beautiful setting for an evening stroll. Looking over the travel map for the next day’s destination of Port Townsend, we spotted another excursion we wanted to take, the Sol Duc Falls on the northern side of the Rain Forest.

Rialto Beach - So Much Driftwood!

Day 4 – Sol Duc Falls

As you travel east on Hwy 101 from Forks, you’ll cross the Sol Duc River several times. If you follow the signs for the Sol Duc Hot Springs, you’ll also find the Sol Duc Falls. The Sol Duc Hot Springs includes a beautifel lodge and does indeed feature mineral spring pools that you can enjoy. A little further down the road is the park entrance for the Falls. There’s plenty of space for RV parking and several picnic tables if you want to have a bite to eat before or after your hike to the Falls.

Sign for Sol Duc Falls Trail

The trail to the Falls is only .8 miles but there is so much to see along the way. You definitely feel like you are in a rain forest; the trees glisten through the sun with moss-covered branches, wildflowers are along the trail and you can hear the waterfall in the distance as you cross several small streams. The trail is easy to take, not much incline although some did have walking sticks. It was like playing in the trees with such interesting flora along the pathway. We took so many photos as did many others, including some professional photographers. No absence of subject matter here! And then you get to the Falls…they were running full while we were there (May) and we did get sprayed. There’s a bridge that you can use to view the downward falls and a small benched area to sit and enjoy the view after the bridge. Although the hike is less than a mile in, if you take in all the trail has to offer, it will take you at least a couple of hours or so to enjoy this adventure. It’s a great hike for young and old alike.

Looking Up at the Trees Along the Trail

Playing in the Trees

Sol Duc Falls - Beautiful!

We continued on toward Port Townsend on Hwy 101. Note that there have been one-way closures along Lake Crescent, we had two 15-minute waits going through as they are doing major construction along this part of the road. If we had more time, there were so many stops we would have made including Hurricane Ridge and Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse. With only one day left now, we headed directly to our next stop, Fort Warden State Park. This trip is too short!


Cheryl Johnston
Author: Cheryl JohnstonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cheryl Johnston is the Marketing Director for MHRV. She writes about anything that helps promote RVing and educate the public about the RV Lifestyle.

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