Lake Quinault, situated in the Quinault Valley of the Quinault River on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state, is a picturesque lake surrounded by the breathtaking Quinault Rainforest.
This glacial-carved lake spans an area within the boundaries of Olympic National Park, offering visitors a tranquil escape into the heart of nature.
About Lake Quinault
Owned by the Quinault Indian Nation, Lake Quinault is easily accessible from U.S. Route 101, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The area offers a range of activities to engage in, including fishing (with the necessary permit from the Quinaults), scenic drives, and hiking. The lake's southern side boasts a network of well-maintained hiking trails managed by the U.S. Forest Service, allowing casual day hikers to explore the surrounding beauty at their own pace.
Lake Quinault stretches over 3,000 acres, its crystal-clear waters reflecting the magnificent landscape that surrounds it.
In addition to its natural wonders, Lake Quinault is steeped in Native American history and culture. The Quinault Indian Nation has inhabited the area for thousands of years, and their connection to the land is deeply rooted in their traditions and way of life.
Visitors can learn about their rich heritage through cultural tours, storytelling, and visits to the Quinault Indian Reservation.
To Do At Lake Quinault
Fed by the Quinault River and numerous mountain streams, the lake boasts a rich ecosystem, supporting an abundance of plant and animal life.
From its tranquil shores to its vibrant depths, Lake Quinault is a sanctuary of biodiversity.
Explore the Old Growth Forest
One of the most remarkable features of Lake Quinault is its old-growth forest, home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. The Quinault Rainforest, which envelops the lake, is a temperate rainforest renowned for its lush vegetation and diverse array of flora.
Visit the Lake Quinault Lodge and Rainforest Resort Village
On the southern side of the lake, visitors will discover two notable establishments: the historic Lake Quinault Lodge and the Rain Forest Resort Village.
The lodge, which has been in operation since the early 20th century, offers a charming lakeside retreat with comfortable accommodations, fine dining, and captivating views of the lake.
The Rain Forest Resort Village provides additional lodging options, blending seamlessly with the natural environment.
You can read more about the Lake Quinault Lodge below.
Hiking at Lake Quinault
There are a multitude of hiking trails around Lake Quinault. Here are a few of Traverse the Pacific Northwest's recommendations:
The Quinault Loop Trail
Length: 3.8 miles Elevation Gain: 350 feet
The Quinault Loop Trail is one of the best trails for hiking in the park. It is located on the southern side of the lake. It starts at the Lake Quinault Lodge and passes through Willaby Creek Campground and Falls Creek Campground.
Quinault Rain Forest Interpretive Trail
Length: 0.9 Elevation Gain: 100 feet
The Quinault Rain Forest Interpretive Trail is another great option for visitors to check out. It's very easy, at less than a mile in length, and shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to finish. It offers beautiful views of the lake, dense rainforest, and multiple streams and rivers.
The trail starts at the Quinault Rain Forest Trailhead parking area and is also accessible from the Willaby Creek Campground.
Quinault Big Sitka Spruce Tree Trail
Length: 0.4 Elevation Gain: 10 feet
This is a very short trail that is on the southeast side of the lake. It starts at a parking lot along S Shore Road and only goes out about 0.2 miles before turning around. It's famous for leading visitors to what is regarded as the World's Largest Spruce Tree.
These trails, recognized as National Recreation Trails, provide glimpses of the region's diverse flora and fauna, showcasing the enchanting beauty of the rainforest ecosystem.
Pete's Creek Trail to Colonel Bob Peak Trail
Length: 8.8 Elevation Gain: 3,550
This is a harder trail on this list, located slightly further away from the lake. It takes hikers from Pete's Creek Trailhead, on Forest Road 2204, through the woods to the summit of Colonel Bob Peak.
Lake Quinault Lodge
Nestled on the southern shore of Lake Quinault in Washington state, Lake Quinault Lodge is a historic and enchanting retreat that has been welcoming visitors since its establishment in 1926. Surrounded by the lush beauty of the Quinault Rainforest and overlooking the tranquil waters of Lake Quinault, this lodge offers a unique blend of rustic charm, modern comfort, and breathtaking natural surroundings.
The lodge's architecture reflects the rustic elegance of the Pacific Northwest. Constructed with heavy timber and featuring a steeply pitched roof, the lodge blends harmoniously with its natural environment. As you approach the lodge, you are greeted by a sprawling veranda, inviting you to take a seat and soak in the serene atmosphere.
Lake Quinault Lodge offers a range of accommodations to suit different preferences and needs. From cozy guest rooms to lakeside suites, each space is designed with comfort and relaxation in mind. The rooms are tastefully decorated, combining rustic elements with modern amenities. Many of the rooms offer picturesque views of the lake or the surrounding forest, allowing guests to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty that surrounds the lodge.
The main lodge building serves as the heart of the property, housing a variety of facilities and services. The lobby features a grand fireplace where guests can gather and enjoy its warm ambiance during cooler evenings. The cozy sitting areas provide comfortable spaces to unwind, read a book, or simply enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings. The lodge also offers a gift shop, a game room, and complimentary Wi-Fi access for guests.
Lake Quinault Climate
Lake Quinault is renowned for its high levels of precipitation, receiving an average of 333 centimeters (131 inches) of rainfall per year.
This abundance of moisture nourishes the Quinault Rainforest and contributes to the thriving ecosystem surrounding the lake.
Camping at Lake Quinault
There are a variety of amazing campgrounds along the banks of Lake Quinault. Here are a few of our favorites:
There are a variety of amazing campgrounds along the banks of Lake Quinault. Here are a few of our favorites:
1) Willaby Creek Campground
This is one of your best options along Quinault Lake. All the campsites are located on the water and near the interpretive opportunities in the area. It's a great option for fishing, as well.
There are 21 campsites total, and is open for tents, trailers, and RVs. There are flush toilets, picnic tables, and potable water sources.
2) Falls Creek Campground
Falls Creek Campground is another beautiful site near Falls Creek, a beautiful stream flowing near Lake Quinault (it's also a day-use area). The campground has 21 sites, as well, and 10 of these are walk-in sites for tent camping.
3) Gatton Creek Campground
The lovely Gatton Creek Campground is on the south shore of Lake Quinault. The are is used for swimming and boating as well, with five walk-in campsites that you can tent-camp in.
4) Campbell Tree Grove Campground
Set back from the lake; the Campbell Tree Grove Campground might be a good option if the lakeside sites are taken. Plus, the campground is free and first-come-first-serve only. It's near the West Fork Humptulips River.
Flora at Lake Quinault
The Quinault Rainforest, which envelops Lake Quinault, is a temperate rainforest renowned for its lush vegetation and old-growth forests. The forest is dominated by massive coniferous trees, including Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). These towering giants can reach impressive heights and create a dense canopy, casting shade on the forest floor.
The forest understory is adorned with a carpet of mosses, ferns, and other plants that thrive in the damp, shaded environment. Epiphytic plants such as licorice ferns (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) and mosses cling to tree trunks and branches, adding to the enchanting atmosphere. Wildflowers like trillium, lilies, and violets bloom during the spring and summer months, painting the forest floor with bursts of color.
The proximity of Lake Quinault to the Pacific Ocean and the high levels of precipitation contributes to the abundance of plant life. The moisture supports the growth of various mosses, ferns, and fungi, creating a vibrant and diverse ecosystem.
Animals at Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault and its surroundings provide a habitat for numerous wildlife species, both on land and in the water. Visitors to the area may encounter a range of animals, from small mammals to majestic birds.
The forest is home to mammals such as Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), black bears (Ursus americanus), mountain lions (Puma concolor), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and river otters (Lontra canadensis). These animals can often be spotted foraging or moving through the forest in search of food and shelter.
Lake Quinault is a haven for birdwatchers, offering opportunities to observe a variety of avian species. The lake attracts waterfowl, including Canadian geese (Branta canadensis), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and various species of ducks.
Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) can be seen soaring above the lake, while the forest provides a habitat for species such as the Pacific wren (Troglodytes pacificus), varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius), and numerous woodpecker species.
The lake and the Quinault River that flows through it support several fish species. These include Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii). Anglers can try their luck fishing for these prized fish, subject to fishing regulations and permits.
Amphibians and Reptiles
The moist environment of Lake Quinault and its surrounding wetlands provide a habitat for various amphibians and reptiles. Salamanders, frogs, and turtles can be found in and around the lake, adding to the ecosystem's diversity.
Insects and Invertebrates
The forest and lake ecosystems support a wide array of insects and invertebrates, which play important roles in the ecological balance. From butterflies and dragonflies to beetles and spiders, these small creatures contribute to pollination, decomposition, and the overall health of the ecosystem.
How deep is Lake Quinault?
Lake Quinault is around 240' deep.
Is Lake Quinault swimmable?
Yes, Lake Quinault is swimmable. It's known for getting pretty warm in the summer and will usually be pretty busy on weekends.
Is Quinault Rain Forest worth visiting?
Yes, Quinault Rain Forest is worth visiting! It's incredibly beautiful, plus, with the lake nearby, you won't run out of fun things to do.
Which is better Hoh or Quinault Rain Forest?
Usually, people prefer visiting Quinault Rain Forest but we think that the Hoh Rainforest is more beautiful!
What fish are in Quinault Lake?
Some of the fish found in Quinault Lake include sockeye salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and coastal cutthroat trout.
Which is better Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent?
Both Lake Quinault and Lake Crescent offer unique and beautiful experiences. Lake Quinault is known for its lush rainforest surroundings and diverse wildlife, while Lake Crescent boasts crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain vistas, making the choice between the two a matter of personal preference based on the desired scenery and activities.
What is the water temperature of Lake Quinault?
The water temperature of Lake Quinault can vary depending on the time of year, but typically ranges from around 45°F (7°C) in winter to around 60°F (15°C) in the summer months.