Why else did Bill Gore invent waterproof-breathable fabric? It was, of course, for hikers to don while exploring Olympic National Park’s fecund, ferny Quinault Valley in the winter, when most of its sopping 12 annual feet of rain falls. You get to slog the valley’s temperate rain forest—one of the world’s rarest ecosystems—in its most natural (read: wet) state, at a time of year when you’ll see more elk than people. The Quinault area is a hall of fame of world-record trees, including red cedar, Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and hemlock, plus monstrous moss-draped maples, all accessible via short trails out of Lake Quinault.
Our picks are the half-mile Maple Glade Trail, the 0.2-mile Quinault Big Cedar Trail, and the 1.3-mile Kestner Homestead Trail (nps.gov/olym). Lake Quinault Lodge provides peaceful refuge from the dampness (doubles from $129).—Text by Robert Earle Howells
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