Three Lakes – 14.5mi / 23.4km
From lakes and creeks in the rain forest to a high, alpine lake surrounded by heather meadows, the trail to Three Lakes offers quite the variety. The trail climbs up and over a ridge, following Irely Creek to Irely Lake (see Irely Lake for description).
From the lake, the trail steeply climbs, crossing numerous feeder streams. The cathedral-like rain forest is lush with a vast array of fauna amongst the area’s massive trees. Big Creek cascades far below as you traverse the valley.
The bridge over a tributary stream washed out and may be a tricky crossing in the spring. This crossing features a couple of beautiful cascades. From there, you’ll switchback up the hillside through more wonderful forest before coming to the record-sized Alaska Cedar.
The trail levels out as you enter heather meadows with open views to the surrounding ridges, leading you to the first (and only accessible) lake. Enjoy this small lake before heading back.
For a longer day, follow the trail that continues below the ridge through more forest and meadows, then eventually steeply descending to the North Fork Skokomish River and back to the ranger station (see North Fork Quinault River for description).
Trailhead: From Hwy 101, turn onto South Shore Road just south of Lake Quinault. Follow the road for 13 miles and take a left onto North Shore Road over the river. Just across the river, take a right onto the gravel road for 2.7 miles to the Irely Lake trailhead.
Elevation Gain: 2,900ft / 870m – Elevation Loss: 2,900ft / 870m