Enchanted Valley, Graves Creek Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Enchanted Valley - 26.1 Miles
Graves Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||26.1 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||676' - 2,004' (2,004' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,328' net elevation gain (+3,635' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Enchanted Valley is located 13.05 miles from the Graves Creek Trailhead in the southwest quadrant of Olympic National Park.
This celebrated trail closely follows the Quinault River through old growth temperate rainforests into a deep glacial valley below Chimney Peak, Mount Anderson, and White Mountain.
Visitors will enjoy luxuriant forests, massive trees, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing all along the trail:
The trail crosses the river and climbs steadily away to a crest (2.1 miles : 1,271'), where it drops sharply to Pony Bridge (2.72 miles : 928'). Pony Bridge spans a deep, moss-covered gorge in the river. The bridge leads to the north bank, which you'll follow nearly all the way to Enchanted Valley.
The grade moderates up the north bank with good views of the gorge below. The forest deepens and diversifies as you progress up this perennially wet corridor. Note the introduction of bigleaf maple along damp bottomlands, which form a haunting canopy over the trail.
The trail climbs two short, steep hills between 4-5 miles, the first of many past Pony Bridge. Backcountry campsites are generally located right off the trail with river access.
Improbably large trees line the way, but are well spaced and browsed by elk, creating good viewing lanes for wildlife. The forest floor is carpeted in mosses, liverworts, ferns, and fallen and decaying logs.
Because open ground is hard to find, many seedlings instead germinate on fallen, decaying trees called nurse logs. As they grow their roots reach to the ground; when the log eventually rots away, a colonnade, or row of trees on stilt-like roots, remains.
A moderately steep climb leads to O'Neil Creek (6.7 miles), just over which is the spur to O'Neil Creek Backcountry Camp (6.75 miles : 1,286').
The trail levels past O'Neil Creek through long meadows dotted with bigleaf maple and cedar. It meets a river side channel briefly at 7.75 miles (1,276'), then climbs steeply away to No Name Creek (8.18 miles : 1,397').
An easy cross leads into idyllic meadows lined with maple and tight, uniform bands of alder (8.35 miles). The trail edges back into a cluttered forest (8.95 miles) and climbs to another large meadow at Pyrites Backcountry Camp (9.55 miles : 1,447').
There are a few sites here, but a more compelling group is located just over the creek on a level bench beside the river. This area is notably scenic, and worth exploring if time permits.
The Pyrites Creek bridge is damaged but passable. Alternatively, the creek ford is moderate. Many social trails emanate to campsites just beyond the crossing, and may cause confusion. The main trail runs on the north side of the meadow, and leads west through it.
The trail exits the Pyrites area (10.05 miles) on a rolling, scenically varied stretch by the river. It climbs in short, steep spurts from 10.85 miles to Lamata Creek (11.55 miles : 1,748'), and through an expanding valley to a long bridge over the river (12.5 miles : 1,943').
The Quinault River bridge crossing can be slick, and uncomfortable for some. Do not attempt to ford the river.
Once over the trail moderates in a wide, thinly treed alluvial plain with views of the jagged upper valley. It undulates unevenly to the Enchanted Valley Chalet on the edge of Enchanted Valley (13.05 miles : 2,004').
There are a number of campsites on either side of the trail as you progress through the valley. Sites closer to the river are preferable, as they'll reduce water treks and exposure to bears. A second large meadow is located .7 miles from the Chalet. While decidedly more private, water takes some effort to reach.
The Quinault Rainforest
The Quinault Rain Forest is one of four temperate rain forests on the west side of the Olympic Mountains. The Quinault River Valley is optimally positioned to capture moisture from the southwest, with 140"+ of rainfall each year. Clouds, fog, and forest the forest itself help trap moisture and regulate temperatures under the canopy.
Douglas fir, red cedar, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce dominate the canopy, joined by big leaf maple and red alder. The understory is filled by thimbleberry, blackberry, salmonberry, ferns, and mosses.
The Quinault Rainforest is home to several year-round Roosevelt Elk herds, whose foraging helps control overgrowth and clears the forest floor for new growth.
Bear, mountain lion, deer, coyote, bobcat, beaver, and river otter inhabit this valley. Bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, and blue heron can be found along the river valley and at Lake Quinault. Salmon and steelhead come year round to spawn, and their death fuels the nutrient base of the rivers for the benefit of the upcoming egg hatch. The entire rain forest community is dependent upon the fish runs.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N47 34.364 W123 34.185 — 0.0 miles : Graves Creek Trailhead
- N47 35.011 W123 33.560 — 1.0 miles : Moderately steep climb away from river
- N47 35.502 W123 32.926 — 2.0 miles : Crest hill and begin steep descent
- N47 35.779 W123 32.457 — 2.72 miles : Pony Bridge
- N47 35.860 W123 31.979 — 3.25 miles : Mild grade up river bank
- N47 35.946 W123 31.057 — 4.05 miles : Variously steep and level travel
- N47 36.242 W123 30.070 — 5.0 miles : Campsites along river access points
- N47 36.735 W123 29.210 — 6.05 miles : Cross small stream
- N47 36.938 W123 28.609 — 7.75 miles : O'neil Camp spur
- N47 37.617 W123 27.138 — 8.18 miles : Cross No Name Creek
- N47 38.089 W123 26.547 — 8.95 miles : Begin climb to Pyrites
- N47 38.386 W123 26.017 — 9.55 miles : West edge of Pyrites campsite
- N47 38.673 W123 25.653 — 10.05 miles : Exit Pyrites Camp area
- N47 39.030 W123 24.873 — 10.88 miles : Upper O'neil Creek confluence
- N47 39.471 W123 24.284 — 11.55 miles : Cross Lamata Creek
- N47 39.709 W123 23.936 — 12.0 miles : Short, steep undulations into upper valley
- N47 40.040 W123 23.675 — 12.5 miles : Cross Quinault River on long bridge
- N47 40.271 W123 23.365 — 13.05 miles : Enchanted Valley - Chalet
- N47 40.792 W123 22.983 — 13.75 miles : Meadow #2
- While the net elevation gain is modest, there are many minor-moderate climbs that are cumulatively demanding.
- Bears are common along the trail, and you'll likely see several on the hike. There are 6+ bears that inhabit the Enchanted Valley - Chalet area alone. Allow bears ample room to pass, and store scented items carefully. Though canisters are not required, they're highly recommended.
- Roosevelt Elk are common along the Enchanted Valley Trail. They're larger and darker than Tule and Rocky Mountain Elk, with females reaching 600 lbs and males 1,000 lbs. Elk play a critical role in the Quinault Rainforest by clearing the understory for new growth. The valley's open, park-like feel can be attributed to elk browsing.
- Coastal temperate rainforests in North America produce the largest accumulation of organic (living or once-living) matter on the planet, surpassing even tropical rainforests.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- 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 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time. Self-registration trailheads have forms, permits, and submission forms.
- There are no quotas or required reservations for Enchanted Valley. Campsites are not individually assigned, but are available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
- Camp only in established sites, which are generally located and intuitively found along river access points and bottomlands. A number of sites are located at Pony Bridge, O'Neil Creek, Pyrites Creek, and Enchanted Valley. Pitch tents on bare ground or gravel bars. There are several bear wires in Enchanted Valley. Canisters are recommended but not required.
- Fires are permitted up to and through Enchanted Valley. Fires are not permitted over 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.
The Graves Creek - Enchanted Valley Trailhead is located 136.2 miles from Port Angeles in Olympic National Park.
From Port Angeles, head west on US 101 for 116 miles to Lake Quinault - North Shore Road. Follow North Shore Road 14 miles to the Graves Creek Road split. Turn right, cross the bridge, and bear left on Graves Creek Road. Continue 6 miles to the trailhead.
Portions of North Shore Road and all of Graves Creek Road are improved dirt roads passable to 2WD vehicles, but subject to flooding and mudslides.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: 866.476.5382
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