Whether you’re coming from the north or the south on US 101, you’ll probably be looking for some civilization as you reach the area around Quinault. This small town is located at the edge of Lake Quinault, just a few miles off of the highway. It’s a tiny community that feels like it’s been forgotten by time, yet it still provides everything you need: gas (albeit expensive), a few businesses, and an excuse to get out of the car and stretch your legs.
This area lies within Olympic National Park, and if you want to stay overnight inside the park, the Lake Quinault Lodge is one of your options. It’s located on South Shore Road, at the edge of the lake.
Not far away, you’ll see a trail that leads to the World’s Largest Spruce Tree. I’m always up to see the worlds largest anything, so I decided to take a quick walk down the .3 mile trail.
The Trail passes by some fallen giants…
… and takes you underneath a lush canopy of rain forest growth…
… before finally arriving at the main attraction. The World’s Largest Spruce Tree measures 191 feet tall and nearly 59 feet around its trunk. A sign at the base of the tree brags that it’s roughly 1000 years old. Nearby at the general store, you can pick up a brochure that will lead you to other “world’s largest” trees in the area, such as a Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Mountain Hemlock.
Back at the trailhead, you can choose whether to head back to US 101 or take the scenic drive around Lake Quinault. I drove the loop, back in 2004. Back then, I decided that it wasn’t worth the time necessary to make the loop. It’s a scenic drive, however the road is narrow and winding, and there are only occasional views of the lake (I did, however, enjoy finding Bunch Creek Falls back in 2004). During this trip, I decided to head back to US 101, since I needed to cover a lot of ground before the end of the day.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive north, from Quinault, past the numbered beaches and Ruby Beach, to the turnoff to the Hoh Rainforest: