Trip Report: Enchanted Valley

I needed to get in a long run, but with snow levels dropping down to 2000-2500 ft, my options felt a little limited. I decided to head to the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park, via the East Fork of the Quinault River trail. I had heard great things about the trail, and it seemed like a good choice for a potentially rainy day (forested, lower elevation). I was worried the trail might be a bit boring because it basically just meanders along the river, but there are enough views to keep you engaged (although it got a little tedious on the return).

Enchanted Valley

I was out the door by 5 am and at the trailhead by 9. There are probably half a dozen blowdowns on the trail, and you reach the biggest one within the first mile. However, all of the blowdowns are relatively easy to get around, with a clear bootpath to show you the way. There are multiple creek and river crossings, but they are a non-issue and all of the bridges are in great condition.

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Dawn light on the drive to the trailhead.
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Elk. These guys were approx 25 ft away. I need a real camera (instead of just my cell phone).
View from Pony Bridge
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Quinault singletrack
River views

Enchanted Valley itself is beautiful, including the old chalet. Manmade structures in the backcountry usually irritate me, but the old chalet is so picturesque that I didn’t mind.
I knew bears were common in the Valley, and was hoping to see one. At first it looked like I was going to strike out, but then just as I was leaving the Valley I noticed a shiny black bear grazing a few hundred feet away. I took a couple snapshots before he noticed me. Once he saw me, he turned my direction and stood up. I could see him trying to figure out who/what I was. I decided to continue walking  so that he didn’t feel threatened. A few seconds later I checked to see what he was doing and he was galumphing up the hillside away from me.

According to my Suunto, total trip was ~27 miles and ~3100 ft of elevation gain.  I brought camping gear with the idea of crashing at the Graves Creek campground after my run, but I finished in plenty of time to make the drive home. A long but awesome day.

The Enchanted Valley chalet. It used to be literally teetering off the eroded riverbank in the foreground, but this winter they moved it back a bit, to preserve the historic structure.
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Waterfalls cascading down the valley walls.
Another view of the chalet, with Anderson Glacier in the background.
Hey buddy! A minute later he ran away up that small hill.
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