Experience a quiet woodland walk while camping at one of Olympic National Park's many campgrounds. Add it on to a day of exploration on the coast, or simply meditate in the cool forest with your morning coffee before heading out for the day.
The best trailhead for Quillayute River is at the park entrance, near the gate. Signed 'River Trail', it plunges straight into the forest. The high spruces provide shade, while the relatively sparse understory means you still have lots of light by which to see the thickly-carpeted mossy floor and the variety of smaller shrubs.
Meander through these woods to a 'T' intersection, a quarter mile from the parking area. Here a trail branches off to the right but your route is to the left. Turn left, now with the wide river on your right, and continue to another fork, this one indicated by a wooden post. Here, half a mile from where you began, turn right and head downhill.
In just 0.1 miles, you'll arrive on the banks of the Quillayute. The river here is very wide and brown, moving slowly as if overstuffed from being fed by the Bogachiel, the Calawah, and the Sol Duc Rivers. Look around you at the willows and alders on the banks, peering closely at the catkins and other close-up wonders before returning the way you came.
WTA Pro Tip: Back at the wooden post junction, you can turn right and hike to the other trailhead for the River Trail, a 0.3 mile trail through more of the same forest to the Mora Road. While a nice side trip, it's better to skip this section and head back, saving your energy for James Pond, a short, 0.25 mile loop across the parking area from the trailhead.