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Welcome to Quinault Rain Forest Letterboxing Page
Available in May 2005

Ten letterboxes are in place throughout the Lake Quinault community offering a fun mixture of treasure hunting and exploring the interesting places found here in the rain forest. Two of the boxes are in establishments near trailheads that lead to viewing sites of Rain Forest Champion Trees. Three boxes are located in establishments of historical buildings with intriguing stories. One box requires a one-hour trip by car. Three boxes will require hiking to places near and far and farther. And one box is located central to all. Clues to find the ten boxes are listed below. No boxes are located on National Park Lands.

The Letterboxes contain a logbook, an original carved stamp and other goodies pertinent to their location. Each stamp will contain an image of something that is dear to this rain forest community.

What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is a way that a traveler records a visit to a particular noteworthy site, sometimes in remote places. The traveler follows written clues to hunt for each letterbox, bringing along his/her own personal logbook and stamp. When the box is found, the traveler stamps his/her personal logbook with the box’s stamp. He then stamps the box’s logbook with his own personal stamp, leaving a record of the visit. Letterboxing is found world wide, and is quickly growing in numbers in North America. For finding more information about letterboxing and accessing letterboxes in North America search http://www.letterboxing.org

For those who would like to start Letterboxing, kits are for-sale at the Quinault Rain Forest Visitor Center located at the Internet Café in Amanda Park. Each kit contains a small start up journal and a mounted eraser ready to carve your own stamp. X-acto knives will be available at the visitor center to carve the stamp. Kits are $15.00.

Letterboxing will require you to follow the clues provided for each box.

SALMON : Quinault National Fish Hatchery
About 1 hour by car.

The Quinault Fish Hatchery rears chum, coho, fall Chinook salmon and steelhead. Spawning of adult fish occurs on Wednesdays beginning in October and ending in Februrary. The hatchery visitor center is open from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. daily (closed some holidays). Call hatchery information at 360-288-2277 for updated information on activities and operations.

*Start at the central location of the Quinault Rain Forest Visitor Center in Amanda Park on Hwy 101.
*Follow 101 south for 6.7 miles.
*Take a right on Moclips highway.
*Follow the Moclips highway for about 5 miles.
(You know you’re getting close when you see a sign for the “Quinault Indian Nation”…only 1.3 miles to go!)
*When you get there you will find the Salmon Stamp Letterbox in a place where you can see a TV presentation!
*Have fun learning about salmon and steelhead!
*Be sure to go between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

WESTERN RED CEDAR: Lake Quinault Resort

The Quinault Big Cedar is the world’s largest known western red cedar at 19.5’ diameter DBH and 174’ tall. You can find the Quinault Big Cedar trailhead just across the street from the Lake Quinault Resort.

The western red cedar has been called the “tree of life”. The western red cedar was the canoe cedar and the most important tree to the Northwest Coast Indians. This cedar still dominates western outdoor living as a favorite home building wood. Western red cedar wood offers a rich looking grain, texture and color. It has a long life span and is resistant to moisture and decay. The cedar is somewhat intolerant to dry intense heat so it flourishes in the wet regions of the rain forest. It usually is found in mixed stands along with Douglas fir, Sitak spruce and western hemlock.

It’s time to find the North Shore Road in the community of Amanda Park.

*Start at the central location of the Quinault Rain Forest Visitor Center in Amanda Park.
*Pass the Fire Hall on the right.
*Pass the Amanda Park Timberland Library on the right.
*Pass the Lake Quinault School on the right.
*At about 1.0 miles spot Lake Quinault on the right! On a clear day you can see to the Mount Anderson high country.
*1.8 miles NORTH SHORE LOOP ROAD. Turn left.
*2.1 you are entering the Olympic National Park.
*2.7 notice the “old growth” tree on the right.
In spring watch for the trillium growing along the roadside.
*3.3 National Park Sign with mileage to trailheads and campgrounds.
*3.8 turn right to the Lake Quinault Resort.
*Park near the office.
*The Big Cedar Stamp Letterbox will be at the desk.
*Be sure to take a short .4 mile hike to the champion Lake Quinault Big Cedar. Parking is available at the roadside.

Trillium: Quinault Mercantile

The white blossom of the trillium marks the beginning of spring in the Quinault Rain Forest. The trillium also marks the end of the winter rains. Trilliums can be seen along the roadside along both the north and south shore roads. Catch a glimpse of this beautiful white blossom along the nature trails. The western trillium is more abundant at low coastal elevation and loves moist shady spots.

Now its time to find the South Shore Road in the community of Quinault.

*Start at the central location of the Quinault Rain Forest Visitor Center in Amanda Park on Hwy. 101
*Turn South on Hwy 101.
*.01 miles cross the Quinault River
*.03 miles turn left at signage Olympic National Forest, Quinault Ranger Station, Old State 9 Road. (Left turn lane provided.)
*Glimpse a view of Lake Quinault on the left side of the road. Trees grow very well in the rain forest climate. PS. This area is known for finding little wild blackberries.
*1.2 miles Pen Rearing Hatchery, Quinault Indian Nation.
*1.5 miles STOP! Turn left on South Shore Road.
*Look for trilliums blooming on roadside during the months of April & May.
*1.9 miles USFS Nature Trail. Heated Restrooms. If you have time for a hike there are clues for a letterbox.
*2.2 miles Willaby Campground, NFS, restrooms, picnic, wheelchair, tent, boatramp.
*2.7 miles Lake Quinault Lodge. Historical building on the left.
*2.75 miles Quinault Mercantile. Right side of the road.
*Inside the mercantile, find the snack bar.
*Look on top of the soda dispenser for the Trillium Stamp Letterbox.

Canoe: Lake Quinault Lodge

The current Lake Quinault Lodge opened for business on August 18th, 1926. The lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Canoe rental is available at the lodge.

The canoe held an eminent position of importance in the history of the Quinault Valley, for both the Native Quinault and pioneer. The Quinault River canoe allowed quick travel through the riffle and gravel bars and eliminated struggle through the dense forest, and up and over blow down. The Quinault ocean-going canoe sped through the seas and with the shovel nose design mastered the slackened sea. Western Red Cedar was the cedar tree. The canoe is still used today in the sea, river and lake. Watch out for the winds that pick up on the lake each afternoon.

*From the Quinault Mercantile, cross the street to find the historical Lake Quinault Lodge.
*After entering the lodge, turn right to find the reservation desk and gift shop.
*Ask for directions to the Canoe Stamp Letterbox at the reservation desk.
*Be sure to check the total rainfall gauge on the front deck. It is measured in feet!
*The Quinault Loop Trail can be accessed across from the lodge. Clues for a letterbox hidden along the trail are available.

TRUMPETER SWAN: Lake Quinault Museum

Every winter Lake Quinault sees the return of the beautiful trumpeter swans. These elegant, snowy white birds have seen an increase in numbers since being placed on the “endangered species” list and now number between 4000 and 5000 across the country. In the early 1930’s there were only 65 known trumpeter swans due to excess hunting.

Twelve to twenty swans come down from the arctic in the late fall to winter on the lake and up-river on the Quinault. They begin their migration back to the arctic in early March to nest and start a new family.

*Trumpeter swans mate for life.
*There can be up to four “cygonets” in each family.
*They are the world’s largest swans with a wing span of up to 8’.
*Their weight is between 20 and 30 pounds.
*They can eat up to 20 pounds of vegetation and grasses a day.
*The Trumpeter’s run across the water, flapping their wings to become airborne.
*The force of their wings can break a man’s arm.
*Their calls have been likened to a French Horn, thus giving them their name.
* Just past the Quinault Mercantile look to the left and find the Lake Quinault Historical Museum.
* After entering the Musuem, find the pioneer kitchen area.
* Look under the black cast iron wood burning stove for the Trumpeter Swan Stamp Letterbox.
*Enjoy looking through the newly renovated museum.

Museum Hours Summer Schedule
Memorial Day to Labor Day
Tuesday through Sunday
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

*Across the street from the museum, check out the Pacific Ranger Station office of the National Forest Service. They have a visitor center with information available for trails in the National Forest and National Park information is also available. Day pass parking permits are available.


The Lake Quinault Sitka Spruce is one of the forest giants of the Pacific Coast. This spruce measures in at 58’11” in girth and 191 feet tall. Sitka Spruce is one defining element of a temperate rain forest. The Sitka spruce is moisture dependent, as its needles do not provide for water storage to cover times of drought. The spruce needs constant moisture. The needles are pointed and flat at a 90 degree angle to the twig. Its fruit is a brownish yellow seed cone. It often grows in mixed stands with other coniferous species found in the Quinault Rain Forest.

*From the National Forest Pacific Ranger Station turn left to continue on South Shore Road.

* Pass Falls Creek Campground
* Pass the Community Cemetery on the left.
* Pass Gatton Creek Trail, Restrooms, picnic area, NFS, and access to the Gatton Creek Trail and Quinault Loop Trail.
* Rain Forest Resort Salmon House Restaurant, right
*Rain Forest Resort Store, left.
* Parking is available at the store, or above the US Post Office, Quinault.
*Stop in at the reservation desk to find the Sitka Spruce Stamp Letterbox.

Winter: Sunday – Thursday 9 to 7
Friday & Saturday 9 to 9
Summer: 9 to 9

Then take a short hike to this see the champion Lake Quinault Sitka Spruce tree.

*Gatton Creek Trail is located just behind the Quinault Post Office. Clues for a letterbox hidden on the trail are available.

*Now its time to hit the trails.

The Banana Slug: Rain Forest Nature Trail .5 miles
Parking permit required-details listed on the bulletin board. Trail maps are
available at the visitor center.

The banana slug is large ranging from 4-6” and can measure up to 10” when crawling. This slug’s coloring can range from chrome yellow to olive to olive with blackish spots of one to several. When the weather is warm and dry the slug will hide out in the earth, under leaves or some kind of moist place shrinking themselves to their smallest size. Actual moisture loss is greatest when leaving their lubricant slimy tracks as they travel about. They eat fungi and plants of all varieties.

*Start at the central location of the Quinault Rain Forest Visitor Center located in Amanda Park on Hwy 101.

*Turn South on Hwy 101.
*Cross the Quinault River.
*Turn Left to find the South Shore Road. Old State 9 road.
*STOP. Turn left on South Shore Road.
*1.9 miles USFS Nature Trail parking lot. Heated Restrooms.
*Find the trailhead of the Nature Trail.
*At the first junction follow the path to the right.
*Continue up the trail.
*Locate signage for “The Padded Realm”
*Take 24 leisure steps forward.
*Find the small drainage trail leading off to the right.
*Take 4 leisure steps forward.
*Find the blowdown cut out of the trail years ago. Tree sections are located exactly opposite one another.
*Fungi is growing on the tree cuts.
*Check under the blowdown log on the right for the Banana Slug Stamp Letterbox.

Deer, Bear, Elk: Quinault Loop Trail

The blacktail deer inhabit the Westside Olympic Mountains. Their tails are dark brown to black. There is a close family tie of doe to her fawn(s). The yearling might be allowed to stay close with the doe for a short time but then leaves to fend for itself. Males are solitary.

Black bear inhabit the Olympics and a quite numerous. The bears start with eating plant foods in the spring to berries in the fall. They eat a variety of small mammals, insects and larvae, honey, fish, and help themselves to another animal’s kill. Please join us in keeping camping and hiking food out of their reach.

Several Roosevelt Elk herds are found in the Quinault Rain Forest.

*There are several access point to the Quinault Loop Trail.
*Our directions start at the Nature Trail parking lot, NFS.
*Find the trailhead for the Nature Trail
(Or after leaving the Banana Slug Letterbox continue on up the trail to the junction with the Quinault Loop Trail, turn right & go up the trail)
*At the first junction, continue going straight.
*1.1 miles to the junction of the Willaby Creek Trail to the Big Cedar Tree.
*STOP at the first cedar walkway going through the cedar bog.
*Go back 8 leisure steps.
*Find the Bear, Deer, Elk Print Stamp Letterbox under the roots of a small snag on the left side of the trail.

Cougar: Gatton Creek Trail

Cougar live within the range of Quinault Rain Forest. Their size ranges from 4-5’ in length. Cougar colors vary from a ruddy brown to pale gold to black. It is thought that dark coloring enables the cougar better camouflage within the shadowed areas of the rain forest. You will be very lucky to come across cougar tracks. They usually walk without extending their claws, but leave the largest of the cat prints with front pads larger than the hind pads. Pad sizes are 3 to 3 l/2” long and wide. Cougars eat a wide variety of critters but mainly feed on deer.

*There are several access points to the Gatton Creek Trail.
*Our instructions begin at the trailhead found behind the Quinault Post Office.
*Approximatley .5 miles.
*Follow the trail up for a good workout.
*Cross Wrights Canyon Road.
*STOP after crossing two wooden sections of walkway.
*Take six leisure steps.
*Find the Cougar Print Stamp Letterbox under a large tree root on the left side of the trail.

Eagle: At the Central Location QVC

An adult male bald eagle can have a body size of 32” and a wing span up to 80” in length. The bald eagles breed in mid to late winter with the eggs incubating for 6 weeks and the young stay in the nest an additional ten to twelve weeks. The young are then ready to fly north and take advantage of summer coho runs in Alaska. Some of the eagle will migrate back to the Olympics to feast on salmon runs that make their way up the rivers during our heavy rains. The best viewing along the Quinault River and at the lake is during November – January.

*Search through the clues above to find the central starting location. Ask for the Eagle Stamp Letterbox at the desk.