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Irely Lake

Olympic Peninsula > Pacific Coast
47.5676, -123.6553 Map & Directions
2.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
145 feet
Highest Point
615 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Irely Lake. Photo by Shannon Cunningham. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Lakes
  • Rivers

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A temperate rainforest saunter up from the Quinault River valley floor to a fauna rich lake within the Olympic National Park Continue reading

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Hiking Irely Lake

The Irely Lake Trail starts with a short rocky climb through an open grove of juvenile hemlocks that sprung up in the aftermath of past wind storms. The path soon moves into dappled montane forest which surrounds you in its humid embrace.

A blanket of viridescent moss cloaks every forest feature, interspersed with trillium, ferns, huckleberry and salal. Watch your step though, the trail is woven with the gnarled knuckles of the immense fir, cedar, spruce and hemlock trees shadowing overhead.

In a half-mile, the trail takes its course along Irely Creek which permeates the forest floor. Aged wooden puncheons and a brief detour up onto a cliff band do their best to keep you above the devil’s club, skunk cabbage and muck but expect more than a few swampy patches as you go. 

There are two creek crossings, a rock hop and a narrow log bridge, before the trail gains 60 feet more and transitioning back into the dense forest. At 1.2 miles, arrive at a modest sign for a detour up and down to the lake.  The last few feet descend to a small bank on a ladder of roots that may require both hands.

Take rest by this boondock lake as a hungry woodpecker and squawking ducks serenade you.  Gaze at Mount Hoquiam rising to the southeast and search for the tip of Colonel Bob Peak to the south through the woods on the other side of lake. If you bring a pole, enjoy a spell of catch and release!

BACKPACK IT: If continued, the Irely Lake Trail provides access to Three Lakes, the World’s Largest Alaska Yellow Cedar and the stunning, maintained-by-WTA Skyline Trail with Kimta Peak and Lake Beauty in another 21 miles.

For a backpacking loop, 45 miles will take you up on the Skyline, down to a junction with the Low Divide and back on the North Fork Quinault River to the North Fork Campground just a quarter mile up the road from the Irely Lake Trail you started on.

Hike Description Written by
Shannon Leader, WTA Correspondent

Irely Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.5676, -123.6553 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Travel north from Hoquiam on US Highway 101 for 38 miles. Turn right at milepost 126 onto South Shore Road and Lake Quinault. Drive 12.9 miles (pavement ends at 7.8 miles) to a junction at the Quinault River Bridge. Turn left, crossing over the bridge. Immediately turn right onto North Shore Road and drive 2.9 miles to the trailhead (elev. 475 ft) on the left. Parking is on the right with room for a dozen vehicles.

More Hike Details


Olympic Peninsula > Pacific Coast

Olympic National Park

Guidebooks & Maps

Custom Correct Quinault-Colonel Bob

National Geographic Olympic National Park

Green Trails No 166 Mount Christie

Buy the Green Trails Mt Christie No. 166 map

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Irely Lake

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