Sam's River Loop, Queets River Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sam's River Loop - 2.95 miles
Queets River Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||2.95 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||285' - 312' (max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+27' net elevation gain (+76' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Sam's River Loop - 2.95 Miles Round-Trip
The Sam's River Loop explores a rich bottomland ecosystem in the Queets Rainforest. It's a great choice for families, and alternative to the Queets River Trail when the river ford is not possible. Visitors will enjoy active wildlife, level grades and light crowds in the Park's most remote and primitive rainforest.
The trail begins on a high bank just above the Queets - Sam's River confluence. Here you can see the Queets River Trail marked by an orange symbol on the far bank, and sense for the difficult ford required to reach it.
The Sam's River Trail curls into a lush mix of bigleaf maple, vine maple, hemlock and Sitka spruce. Large elk herds frequent this area, and their regular browsing has created an open (and even manicured) feel in places.
The trail emerges in a large meadow once homesteaded that is now frequented by elk (.95 miles : 295'). It enters a thick hemlock forest (1.3 miles) and emerges on the trailhead access road at the Queets Ranger Station (1.55 miles).
Walk toward the Ranger Station (seasonally staffed) and follow signs for the trail. This section leads to a high bank over the Queets River with good views and improvisational access.
It follows the river closely before rejoining the road (1.7 miles), which you'll take back to the parking area to complete the loop (2.95 miles).
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N47 37.473 W124 00.866 — 0.0 miles : Queets River Trailhead
- N47 37.206 W124 00.798 — .35 miles : SW curl through open forest
- N47 36.981 W124 01.072 — .7 miles : Bend west into meadows
- N47 36.851 W124 01.308 — 1.1 miles : Open homestead meadows
- N47 36.922 W124 01.884 — 1.55 miles : Cross Queets Road
- N47 36.980 W124 01.907 — 1.6 miles : Trail resumes at Ranger Station
- N47 37.170 W124 01.800 — 1.82 miles : Reach banks of Queets River
- N47 37.546 W124 01.123 — 2.7 miles : Follow Queets Road thru campground
- Olympic National Park's rainforests produce more biomass (living or once living matter) than tropical rainforests.
- The world's largest Sitka Spruce is located at Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Forest. It's 191' tall with an 18' 9" diameter and 58' 11" circumference. While yet to break the height record, there are Sitka spruce in the Queets rainforest believed to be the fastest growing organisms on earth in terms of annual girth / mass.
Camping and Backpacking Information
The Queets River Campground is open year round. There are 20 individual sites, each with a fire ring, picnic table, and access to a vault toilet. There is no running water. RVs are not recommended.
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- There's a $5 registration fee per group, plus $2 per person per night (children under 15 excl). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit in advance.
- You may self-register at the Queets Ranger Station or trailhead. The station is staffed intermittently throughout the summer.
- There are no quotas or required reservations for the Queets River Trail. Campsites are not individually assigned, but available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
- Camp only in established sites, or on sand-gravel bars. There are only two established sites along the Queets River Trail before reaching Bob Creek, so you may need to improvise if occupied. Terrain is generally accommodating, and dry wood can usually be found along wide, exposed river banks.
- Food Storage: Bear canisters are not required but, are highly recommended.
- Campfires are not permitted above 3,500'.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
- Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
- The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $15 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($30 annual pass).
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Queets River Trailhead is located 14 miles north of US 101 on Forest Road 21. The Forest Road 21 turnoff is located 108 miles south of Port Angeles. Note that Lower Queets Road is not passable beyond Matheny Creek; you must take 21 to reach the trailhead.
From US 101, turn left on 21 and follow signs for Queets. The pavement ends after 8.1 miles and turns into a well-maintained dirt road. Bear left at 9.4 (sign partially concealed), then follow signs right at 10.8 miles for the trailhead. You'll pass the Ranger Station at 12.9 miles, and bear left into the campground at 13.9 miles.
While the dirt road segment is well maintained and suitable for 2WD vehicles, washouts and mudslides do occur. Call ahead for road conditions.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office