The Enchanted Valley
The Enchanted Valley Trail in Olympic National Park has hosted travelers near and far since the early 1930s. It used to be a destination mountain retreat for hikers and horseback riders, but now a common place for multi day backpackers. The Enchanted Valley is filled with old growth trees and endless mossy forests. Below is a recap of a two night backpacking trip a group of friends and I took through the valley.
Our group hiked in on a cool and crisp Friday evening around 10:30pm with headlamps strapped to our heads. Backpacking in the dark was a first for our entire group, besides a day hike we did together to the summit of Mt. Adams last Summer, which was a neat experience. My husband, Tim and our friends Colby and Tiff from Seattle joined us. On night one, we camped at Pony Bridge camp about 2.5 miles in from the trailhead. The next morning, we packed up camp early and got a 7am start and hiked across the valley floor surrounded by moss, thousand year old trees and the sounds of the serene music of the flowing river. With over 1,700 feet elevation gain throughout the hike and over 7-hours of trekking across 13.5 miles with breaks and lunch in-between, we made it to our final destination, magnificent mountainous waterfall views and a chalet on the banks of the Quinault River. We camped along the river back and watched the colors shifting as the sun went below the canyon walls. Camping within the Enchanted Valley floor is first-come first-serve and there are plenty to go around.
We enjoyed hearing from Ranger Patrick, who was the ranger welcoming and maintaining trails in the valley by the chalet that weekend. He told us about the rich history of Enchanted Valley and the chalet. It once served as an important component of World War II. The chalet served as an Aircraft Warning Station where soldiers looked for foreign intruders, specifically Japanese planes going towards Seattle. The chalet has since been restored and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has also been used as an emergency shelter and ranger station, but the common flooding of the valley river caused the forest service to move the chalet off the banks of Quinault River so it wouldn’t be swept away. The chalet is now permanently closed to hikers, but certainly makes a magnificent photo opportunity. Always enjoy learning about the the rich history of our national parks and where they came to be. 🌿
Now I see why they call it Enchanted Valley. Our souls are happy (and tired) after 27 miles, but when there is pure magic to be found, it is all worth it ✨ Recommend spending at least one or two nights in the backcountry of the Enchanted Valley if you can. We saw a few day hikers and even trail runners go through, but to really appreciate and soak-in the beauty, more than one day is highly recommended. Bring a water filter, since there are plenty of stream fill-up spots along the way. We saw a couple elk herds on our hike. But if you’re lucky, you will see a black bear or two meandering along the meadow. Remember, pack out, what you pack in and leave no trace. Enjoy!