Surrounded by tall mountains, decorated with dramatic waterfalls, and set deep in the Olympic National Forest is the Enchanted Valley. Intrigued by the scenery and our lack of experience hiking in the Olympics, my friend and I set out on a three day backpacking trip to see the legendary Enchanted Valley.
If you get an early enough start, you can easily hike all the way out to the valley in one day. From the trailhead on the Quinault River, it’s about a 14-mile hike. It’s not a particularly challenging hike, but the low elevation gain is a little misleading. There are a number of hills along the way so don’t expect a flat, easy hike.
My friend and I arrived a little late in the day so we only made it 6.5 miles in the first day before we setup camp. The next morning we finished off the hike and enjoyed a lovely day in the valley. On our final day, we hiked all the way out. It was fairly warm so we slept out under the stars with only our sleeping pads and sleeping bags. The scenery was incredible – day or night.
Cascading down the sides of the mountains that surrounded us were at least a dozen waterfalls. We’d both read that the black bear population in the area is quite high, but we didn’t see any. Not even a glimpse. The only wildlife we saw all three days, was a chipmunk and a few ducks swimming in the river. It was very strange.
On the other hand, we did become well acquainted with the local fly and mosquito population, which were quite abundant.