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Your guide to Lake Quinault
All About Lake Quinault
About an hour north of Aberdeen, in the southern edge of Washington’s Olympic National Park, Lake Quinault is an isolated body of fresh water surrounded by towering firs, gushing waterfalls, and the dozens of hiking trails that connect them. The glacially-carved 3-acre lake is a popular starting off point for exploring the park, as well as a magnet for anyone looking to take a break from the mossy rainforest trails and get on the water. Kayaking and canoeing play big here — and for speed seekers, the nearby Quinalt and Queets rivers offer rafting tours that get the blood pumping. (For a fun land-water mashup ride, you can even rent a pontoon-style sea cycle and pedal your way around the lake.) In summer, the place is abuzz with anglers who flock to the area — home to some of the best fisheries in the Pacific Northwest — to cast for steelhead, trout, and salmon.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Lake Quinault
Visitors hoping to take advantage of swimmable water temperatures while enjoying their cabin in Lake Quinault should come in summer. During this time, the water will be warmest and there is a good chance you'll get to enjoy a day of swimming or boating. The water begins to cool down in the fall months and becomes much colder. While the lake may be too cool for a swim, the changing leaves are a great way to enjoy the autumn scenery.
During the winter months, visitors can still take part in many recreational activities, including hiking, sightseeing, fishing, and bicycling. This portion of Olympic National Park sees nearly 150 inches of precipitation a year, so plan for the possibility of rain no matter when you choose to come. But don't let it deter you from enjoying your trip — pack an umbrella and water-repellent clothing and enjoy the rainy conditions.
Top things to do in Lake Quinault
Quinault Rain Forest Loop
This scenic, 30-mile drive around Lake Quinault offers an extensive look at the rainforest in western Washington state. Travelers will encounter many hiking trails, campgrounds, and what claims to be the world's largest sitka spruce tree. There are several waterfalls throughout the rainforest to be explored as well.
The area near Lake Quinault is home to old-growth forest and an abundance of hiking trails, ranging from a short half-mile loop to treks that span closer to 20 miles — and most of them offer breathtaking views of the lake. Some standouts include the easy Quinault Rainforest Trail, Maple Glade Nature Trail, and the three-mile loop Gatton Creek Trail. The ranger stations have hiking maps available for visitors to take along as they explore the trails.
Built in 1891, the Kestner Homestead was the residence of Anton Kestner, his wife, and their seven children for 40 years. Visitors can now tour the homestead to learn more about the family and marvel at the beauty of the surrounding area. Built using western red cedar and Douglas fir, this original homestead boasts several outbuildings and original equipment these early settlers used in their daily lives.