Date: October 20, 2018
Location: Olympic National Park - Quinault
Distance: 5 miles
Trails: Enchanted Valley Route (to Pony Bridge & back)
I finally did it - I went back outside. I know, it’s been a while, but I’ll blame the weather in Texas. Really, it was a combination of feeling uninspired and the weather, but that’s a topic for another day.
I decided an autumn trip to the great state of Washington was necessary to compare to my spring adventures. I went back to the Quinault region and hiked to Pony Bridge. When I last visited the Quinault region, it was rainy, windy, and cold. This time, it was sunny, cool, and windy out in the open spots.
The hike started with the drive from Olympia, WA to the Graves Creek Campground/Trailhead. I started early, in the dark and fog, and go to the Quinault turn off as the sun started to illuminate the low hanging clouds.
The road beyond Lake Quinault goes through the valley where there are private residences and then follows the river. You take a turn off onto a gravel road and go about six miles along the river to the trailhead. The road winds through big trees, over various creeks, and is bumpy yet fun to experience.
I had planned for somewhat warm weather, ignoring the morning and night temps. I showed up to the trailhead in shorts and a hoodie, thinking I’d be fine. I was fine, but it was definitely chilly. It was somewhat dim yet, even being 8:40am. I was on a time crunch with this hike because my priority for the day was getting back to the suburbs and meeting a friend who was going to show me Mount Rainier National Park. I set off at a more rapid than usual pace for me, up the gradual elevation gain for the first two miles. It is a gorgeous, tree lined trail with all the lush rain forest vibes and hints of bright yellow autumn moments.
My quick pace took me up to the point of decent to the river and bridge in no time at all. I had time to slow down and enjoy the area around Pony Bridge and could take it easy walking back to the car. It started to get lighter as the morning went on and by the time I was making my way back through the forest the sun was illuminating everything. Sunshine poured in every crack of the canopy, making it feel like a completely different trail than earlier.
I noticed mushrooms and plants as well as heard the birds chirping. It was a completely different hike out than in. I love that the same trail can be so different the second you turn around and see it a different way.
Olympic National Park & National Forest areas are some of my favorite places that I’ve seen in life. Hike 29 along a river, between the mountains, and under the trees was everything I could have wanted out of a hike.