South (and east) of the Pacific Beaches, you have two more opportunities to dart back into Olympic National Park. The first is Queets Road, which hugs the Queets River as it enters a narrow, outstretched finger of the park. The road ends at the Queets Rain Forest, where you can hike to the park’s largest Douglas fir. I passed on that offer, and continued on to Lake Quinault.
Lake Quinault is another picturesque lake, backed by the towering mountains of the Olympic range. The North Shore and South Shore roads provide a gravel and asphalt loop around the lake and river. But in all honesty, I wasn’t impressed. There are very few places to access the lake, and for most of the way, you can’t even see the lake from the road. So, you may want to skip this part of the trip, if you’re short on time.
This was the only rewarding find along the Quinault Loop: Bunch Creek Falls. The cascade is at the entrance to Olympic National Park, along the South Shore Road (look for it as you cross the bridge — there are turnouts on either side).
Maybe the Quinault Loop is more impressive than I’m willing to give it credit for, since by this point in the day, I was growing too tired to enjoy the scenery. After returning to US 101, I headed south in a hurry, anxious to make up for the extra time I spent at Ruby Beach, and in the Hoh Rain Forest.
I passed up a worthwhile scenic detour, which would have taken me back to the coast at Pacific Beach, and past several oceanfront state parks. I also buzzed through the towns of Hoquiam, Aberdeen, and Cosmopolis, and bypassed another coastal route (WA Rte. 105). I had hoped that US 101’s trip along Willapa Bay would have been a bit more scenic, but clouds began to roll in, along with a misty rain, so I kept going, and made it to Long Beach before sunset.
Note: This trip was first published in 2004.