On the west side of Olympic National Park, at the end of the Queets River Road, almost all traces of civilization stop and pure wilderness begins.
Here on the Sams River Loop Trail, hikers will get a chance to explore both worlds. This 3.0-mile flat loop meanders along the banks of both the Queets River and Sams River under a pristine old-growth* forest, but it also tracks through an area of the National Park that was once the site of an old homestead. Numerous meadows have been cleared by previous inhabitants and some past logging, and the meadows are now very popular among resident elk. In this second and third-growth forest the Queets Ranger Station commands its summer post.
You'll also notice the conspicuous absence of the noises of civilization. The Queets River Valley is perhaps one of the most remote portions of the park accessible by road. And herein lies the Sams River Loop Trail's finest quality: if you are visiting in the off season, you will most likely have the area all to yourself.
Note: The Queets Valley is notorious for black bear sightings, particularly in spring, so be sure to stay alert. Also, be sure to track and follow the trail closely, as it is not often traveled and can become extremely difficult to find in some of the meadows. A GPS or compass and map are highly recommended to ensure you get back to where you started.
*Just off the trail near Queets Campground stands the Queets Spruce, the world's largest of its species by volume. Overall, when height, volume and crown spread are taken into consideration the Quinault Giant Sitka Spruce is the largest.