Quinault Lake/Rainforest, Olympic National Park
The Quinault Loop Trail travels along the south shore of the Lake Quinault and up into the Quinault Rainforest. There are many access points into the Quinault Rainforest so there are many options on how many miles one could hike. The trails are level, very well marked, and maintained. I imagine the trails are fairly heavily used by tourist from the lodges and campgrounds and people who motor by.
The Quinault Loop Trail exemplifies the transitions and differences between the unnatural and natural... sadly. However, that's not to say the trails aren't worth the visit. It's a beautiful rainforest, dominated by some large cedars and doug firs. It also has some good size sitka spruce and western hemlocks along with a lush undergrowth. This is a stark contrast to the south shore of Lake Quinault where humans have planted and brought in invasive plants.
There are three campgrounds on the south shore of Lake Quinault. We stayed at Willaby Campground, which I think offers the best camping of the three campgrounds. The Willaby Campground still has a lot of large trees and more privacy than the other campgrounds.
The south shore of Lake Quinault also has the largest sitka spruce in the world, which seems like a road side attraction. All people have to do to see it is drive up, walk a short trail, snap a few pictures, and then motor away. The largest sitka spruce had the misfortune of ending up in the most undignified environment. It actually grows in an RV park and hardly any trees or any native plants remain around the tree. The largest sitka spruce suffers in a paradox. A beautiful ancient (century-old) tree in a trailer park... I much prefer the sitka spruce in the Queets Rainforest. Though it is smaller, it's grandeur in a native habitat is much more spectacular.
Besides the usual forest birds, we did have an exciting moment while eating lunch near the lake. A Merlin flew over the shoreline while grasping a European Starling, which was calling and flapping wildly. The Merlin held on as it wheeled around switching to fly back over land. Unfortunately, the starlings flapping was effective and the Merlin dropped the starling onto the beach. The starling took less than a second to get it's bearings before flying away to take cover. The Merlin, now empty-taloned, flew away behind some trees.
Varied Thrush (many flocks of 5-10 birds)
Other Critter List
Rabbit (escaped/released domestic)
Northern River Otter (1 adult with 2 young)
Chipmunk (Townsend's or Yellow-pine)
Directions: off of hwy-101, turn north on to South Shore Road, Willaby Campground is the first of the three campgrounds on the lake.
Other campgrounds on the