You’ll find two across-the-park hikes that begin or end in the Quinault area, one heading northeast over to Dosewallips, and the other heading north over Low Divide to the Lake Elwha area.
The 11,961-acre Colonel Bob Wilderness borders the South Shore Road just east of Quinault Lake and has a couple of popular backcountry paths. For an overnight hike, the seven-mile (each way) Colonel Bob Trail provides views of Mt. Olympus, Quinault Valley, and the Pacific Ocean from its 4,492-foot summit and passes through impressive rainforests. Drive past Lake Quinault on South Shore Road until you see the trailhead on the right.
The two-mile Fletcher Canyon Trail doesn’t get a lot of use, but it’s a fine chance to see virgin timber and a pretty waterfall. The trail starts from South Shore Road just before it enters the park.
Access to the wilderness from the south side is via Forest Road 2204, northeast from the town of Humptulips. If you enter from this remote area, be sure to visit the beautiful Campbell Tree Campground (free) and to check out the West Fork Humptulips River Trail that departs from the campground.
A 21-mile loop begins near the North Fork Campground, heads up the Three Lakes Trail for seven miles to three shallow alpine lakes, and then turns down the Elip Creek Trail for four miles before catching the North Fork Trail back through dense rainforests to your starting point. An added advantage of this loop is the chance to see the world’s largest Alaska cedar, located just off the trail approximately a mile east of Three Lakes.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition