Description Fairholme-Sappho is a great loop route (out-and-back) for 50 miles on a gorgeous section Read more [...]
Max elevation: 440 ft
Total climbing: 1647 ft
Total descent: -1640 ft
Route Category: Mixed Surface
The Quinault Lake Loop is a mixed surface route that starts and ends in Olympic National Park. Skinny-tire road bikes will not like the “roughly” 11 miles of packed dirt/gravel–especially the six miles on the North Shore Road, which also has some steep-ish hills up and down, unpaved part at all, so best to tackle the whole 31 miles on a gravel or mountain bike. Locals recommend riding the route counter-clockwise starting on South shore Road and returning on North Shore Road.
The route is rated Intermediate primarily because of distance, but allowing enough time and riding at a relaxed pace should make it do-able for beginner cyclists. And the lush scenery and other attractions of riding through the Quinault Rainforest where you might well encounter elk or bear on the road make it worth the effort.
Start at the intersection of US Highway 101 and South Shore Road (or drive in a couple miles to begin at the Lake Quinault Lodge) and head easterly on South Shore Road. The upper third of the route is where you leave paved road surface for
packed dirt and gravel with an occasional pothole. Soon after passing the Rain Forest Resort Village, you’ll encounter a truly awesome set of falls on the right, and then start paralleling the Quinault River for several more miles. You can’t miss the bridge over the Quinault River where you’ll turn left over the river and start heading back west on North Shore Road. Don’t be fooled by the nice bit of paved road that opens up just after the bridge–it’s a tease and soon enough you’re back on packed dirt and gravel. Only this time the potholes increase in frequency, the road narrows, and you find yourself negotiating some short but challenging climbs on a rougher surface with some washboard as well.
Eventually, though, the pavement reappears and you have nice smooth, scenic ride down the rest of North Shore Road to the junction with US Highway 101. Turn left (heading southeast) to Amanda. You can stay on 101 beyond that to South Shore Road or, if you started at the Quinault Lodge, take the shortcut at Amanda following the signs for the Lodge.
Region: SouthwestIcon Display - Surface Mixed: YesIcon Display - Difficulty Intermediate: YesIcon Display - Route Style Loop: Yes