The beautiful Enchanted Valley is located in the southwest quadrant of Olympic National Park in the Quinault Rain Forest. The trail into the valley begins at the Graves Creek Trailhead and leads you through lush old-growth temperate rainforests and into a deep glacial valley. This trail can be done in a single day, but it would be much more enjoyable as a backpacking trip.
Once you are on the trail, you’ll have a steady climb for about 2.1 miles before you begin to descend toward Pony Bridge, the first of four backcountry campsites. Pony Bridge crosses over a moss-covered gorge and the Quinault River, and an even better view of the gorge is available further up the trail. The forest deepens and diversifies in this wet corridor, and the understory is carpeted with mosses, fern, and fallen trees. This trail provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, so keep an eye out for ptarmigan, elk, deer and bears.
After 6.7 miles you’ll come up to O’Neil Creek, with O’Neil Creek Backcountry Camp just 0.5 miles beyond. For the next few miles you’ll pass through meadows with cedar and bigleaf maple followed by a steep climb to No Name Creek, approximately 8 miles in. The trail leads into a lush forest and then back into another large meadow at Pyrites Backcountry camp. From here, the trail undulates through a dense forest until you reach the Quinault River Bridge. This occasionally slick bridge is very narrow and only has a hand rail on one side, and it offers a unique view as it crosses high above the fast-flowing river. This bridge is also the gateway into Enchanted Valley, and you start gaining spectacular views from here.
Once you enter Enchanted Valley you’ll be greeted with waterfalls, glaciers, and the historical Chalet, which was built in 1930. The National Park Service owns the Enchanted Valley Chalet, which is closed as of 2014 because of steady erosion from the Quinault River. Because no suitable bedrock exists in the valley, park officials are left with few options to save it. From the valley you can see Chimney Peak, Mount Anderson, and White Mountain. Incredible views of more waterfalls, glaciers, and the largest recorded western hemlock (about a mile past the valley) await as you hike further into the valley.
Note that bear activity is very high in this area, meaning that food and scented items must be stored away properly. There are bear wires set up at O’Neil Creek, Pyrites Creek, and Enchanted Valley backcountry campsites. Bear canisters are strongly recommended if you are not camping in these campsites.
Wilderness Camping Permits are required for overnight stays in Olympic National Park, and permits are limited in some areas. Check here for more information, or call 360.565.3100.