The famed Enchanted Valley chalet has been a destination for weary travelers since the early '30s, when it provided a mountain retreat for hikers and horseback riders. During World War II, the chalet served as an Aircraft Warning Station, and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's occasionally used as an emergency shelter and ranger station, but the precarious position over the Quinault River has caused it to be closed to hikers until it is moved.
The East Fork Quinault River Trail is one of the most popular trails on the south portion of the park and hundreds of hikers visit Enchanted Valley to take in the tremendous views and see the chalet each year.
Begin at the Graves Creek Trailhead. At a signed junction, continue left on the wide, abandoned road through towering firs and cedar. Many animals inhabit the valley: bear, mountain lion, deer, elk, coyote, bobcat, beaver and river otter. Look for wildlife tracks in muddy sections along the trail.
Two miles in, the old road ends and you'll descend steeply through hemlock and fir to the East Fork Quinault. The Pony Bridge, at 2.5 miles crosses the river over a narrow, picturesque gorge lined with maidenhair ferns.
The trail continues over a series of ups and downs while paralleling the river. Large firs, spruce, alders and maples line the way. Be on alert for wildlife sightings in between the trees.
Just past O’Neil Creek, at 6.7 miles, is O’Neil Creek Camp. The trail ahead crosses numerous streams including No Name Creek and Pyrites Creek, at 8 and 9.5 miles respectively. There are a few campsites near Pyrites Creek, and note that the camp is on both sides of the creek, with 12 sites total.
Past Pyrites, it's more woodland wandering towards the valley, this time with a more continuous, gentle climb. About a half mile from the chalet, arrive at a gate, which hikers are asked to close behind them. Shortly past the gate is the Quinault River Bridge, 20 feet above the river. This high bridge can hang onto snow for quite a while; use caution when crossing in the spring. Once across, the trail meanders into the charming Enchanted Valley at 13.5 miles.
In spring and early summer, countless waterfalls and avalanches stream down the sheer walls of valley. Bears are common in the valley area, so store your food properly at all times.