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Enchanted Valley

Renowned for late spring and early summer hiking, the upper East Fork of the Quinault River in Olympic National Park is also called "Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls." No single falls here is overwhelmingly spectacular, but a stunning scene is created by dozens and dozens of falls dripping and plunging from a long, 4,000-foot cliff on the valley's north-west side, in a setting of alder groves, river meadows and ferns.

"The water is just skipping and roaring off the mountain and there are mists and rainbows blowing off the rock," says Bryn Beorse, a former Aberdeen resident who has explored the valley extensively. "It's a real pretty place to go early in the season."

The stretch known as Enchanted Valley begins 12 miles up the trail, so this is a backpacking venture. Be prepared, and don't plan on staying in the Enchanted Valley Chalet, which is maintained for rangers and emergency use only.

Rangers report significant storm damage to the trail, which crews will began repairing in mid-April. Take Highway 101 to Lake Quinault, then follow Northshore Road to the Graves Creek Road, then head east to the trailhead. (Southshore Road was blocked by a slide when this was written. When the slide is cleared, Southshore Road would be quicker, if you are coming from the south.)


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