Enchanted Valley; Olympic National Park

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abramj17
Posts: 15
Joined: July 10th, 2017, 8:39 pm

Enchanted Valley; Olympic National Park

Post by abramj17 » June 3rd, 2018, 7:37 pm

Hey folks,

Long time no see, but here is a blog on my latest trip.

On memorial day weekend I hiked up into the Enchanted Valley with a group of friends to start my backpacking season.

We drove up to the park from Portland which took about 3.5 hours (exiting onto 101 just before Olympia). To get to the trailhead for this hike, you have to enter the park through the SW Entrance just NE of Lake Quinault. Bear canisters are required when backpacking into the Enchanted Valley and are available to checkout for free at the ranger station as you pass through the small town on Lake Quinault just before you enter the park.

We camped at Graves Creek Campground our first night which is maybe 0.25 miles from the East Fork Quinault River Trail. Upon arrival there were few campgrounds available, probably because of the long weekend. I know that this trail is already popular among Washingtonians, but I think that Memorial Day definitely doubled the usual traffic amount. There were probably 50+ cars parked along the road at the trailhead, and a full campground at Graves Creek.

From here we embarked on the 13 mile trek into the Enchanted Valley. The trail has moderate elevation gain with flat meadowy sections and scattered ascents and descents that can get fairly steep. 3 miles in you will cross Pony Bridge that has a stunning view of the Quinault River from above and scenic campgrounds that people like to poach on their way out of the park. If you spend a night at the valley chalet with intentions of camping at Pony Bridge on your way out, I recommend getting an early start the next day because the campgrounds here go quickly on busy weekends.

After passing Pony Bridge, I saw a small group of Elk, a raven, and a Bald Eagle within minutes of each other.

The next marker of the trail is about 6.7 miles in, O’Neal Creek, which is also accompanied by a campground. You will pass Fire Creek on your way to O’Neal which is a pretty sweet spot to take lunch, but O’neal has a few nice spots to eat as well.

From O’Neal you will reach Noname Creek (8 miles in) and then Pyrites Creek which is just shy of 10 miles in. At Pyrites there are also a few campgrounds.

Right before you enter the Enchanted Valley, you will cross the Quinault River Bridge which only has railing on one side, so take caution when crossing it.

Once our crew got to the Enchanted Valley, the first thing we did was try to snag a campsite on the grassy area surrounding the chalet. The chalet serves as a ranger supply station currently, and was built during WW2. All along the hike people warned us of black bears, and even came across a few people that reckoned they saw one along the way but we never had any encounters.

The valley was pretty magical. It reminded me a little bit of the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island but also Grand Teton National Park just from the perspective of the mountains in the river valley. It was just beautiful. Although we must of had 50 neighbors that night, it still felt like we were the only ones there at certain moments.

Fires are allowed in designated areas, and along the rockbar of the river. There are also bear hang cables for the people who hiked in without bear canisters.

We had intentions of hiking to Anderson Pass the next day, however due to tree falls and the amount of snow that had not yet melted further into the Enchanted Valley, the park ranger on site recommended that we not do so. We hiked out of the valley the next day and spent our extra night at Graves Creek again before heading back home to Portland.

Overall it was a great trip.

Thanks guys,

Abe

RobFromRedland
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Enchanted Valley; Olympic National Park

Post by RobFromRedland » June 4th, 2018, 5:09 pm

I'd love to see some photos - we were there 2 years ago when the trail was a couple miles longer due to the washout on the road. And there were a LOT of cars parked there along the road as well.

We also saw a couple of bears - one right next to the trail - while we were waiting for a herd of elk to vacate the meadow a little bit NE of the valley (where the chalet is) a bear popped his head up from the huckleberries - he seemed more interested in the elk than us, but after a few moments, he sat back down and finished his breakfast. Later that evening we saw another bear (maybe the same one) walking thru the valley near dusk.

It was a cool trip - wondering how well they did rebuilding the trail about halfway in where it washed out?

We also met one of the guys responsible for moving the chalet back from the edge of the river - we just met him on the trail when we were hiking out - interesting conversation about the whole history of the place.

Love to see some photos of your trip.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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retired jerry
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Enchanted Valley; Olympic National Park

Post by retired jerry » June 8th, 2018, 2:39 pm

I did that a couple years ago.

Above the chalet I ran into a bear. It was maybe 50 feet away. I backed out. I read that a couple days later they closed the camping area because of that bear being too casual with humans.

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jime
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Joined: June 9th, 2013, 1:35 pm

Re: Enchanted Valley; Olympic National Park

Post by jime » June 8th, 2018, 5:08 pm

Nice trip write up. I went the same weekend with another group. We probably camped near you. Hope you don't mind my adding some pictures here. Even with the crowds it was a great weekend. Everyone seemed to get along well and be respectful of others. Maybe hiking in 14 miles tired people out. Or maybe, that's a long way to pack a case of beer for memorial day weekend! - Jim E.

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RobFromRedland
Posts: 986
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Enchanted Valley; Olympic National Park

Post by RobFromRedland » June 8th, 2018, 7:41 pm

Wow, what a change from when we were there a couple of years ago - it was socked in the whole 5 days were there. It rained every day and we barely saw the tops of the peaks on either side of the valley.

Wondering if you still have to cross the river on those two giant logs? Or have they fixed the washed out trail section now?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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