“Pony Bridge!” is the most common reaction when I mention the hike to others familiar with the area. I receive this exact response:  An exclamation point is placed at the tip of ‘Pony Bridge.’  This sweet, mostly relaxed, 5-mile out-and-back hike is nestled in a narrow canyon, deep up the East Fork of the Quinault River.  It is the gateway to the Enchanted Valley and the Land of 10,000 Waterfalls.

Pony Bridge

It’s a great year-round trail, and I recently visited midday on a sunny April weekday.  The trail is in perfect condition.  Once a road, the well-groomed path gently climbs for most of the hike. The steep ridgeline occasionally visible through the trees to the left confirms steady elevation gain.

As one nears the destination, the growing thunder of the East Fork meets a rocky descent, calling one to pay closer attention to foot placement.  Glimpses of the scenic gorge and crystal-clear, aqua blue-green water charging into a basin prove what the hype is all about.  Several camping spots provide an easy place to have a snack while admiring the scenery.

Pony Bridge

The massive old-growth Western cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock and spruce provide a refreshing canopy, cozy and close-in along the trail, on a warm summer day.   The trail is equally beautiful on a rainy day. The same canopy acts as a giant umbrella, partially shielding hikers. Proper rain gear is helpful.  Clear, clean water falls – from the sky, pouring over ridges of trail walls, and running down the rocky trail itself (closer to the bridge) — providing a unique hiking experience .  (This is the rain forest, after all.)

Last June in these conditions, I pointed to the most prominent meadow along the trail saying to my hiking companions, “That would be a great place for elk to bed.”  We continued on, and a minute or two later, met a small herd of elk spread out across the trail.  The immediate hush was palpable. The elk repositioned themselves ever so slightly and allowed passage as we slowed our pace with the intention causing as little disturbance as possible.

Pony Bridge

Especially for a beginner hiker, rainy hikes are best done in the company of others.  The falling rain may drown out any other noises, and it is important to hear what is happening around you.  If you hike alone in the rain, choose a trail or area that is more traveled.

The drive up the South Shore road to the trailhead at Graves Creek is notable and is quite the scenic drive for those unable to hike.  It is also helpful to know it takes almost an hour drive to the trailhead once you turn off at 101 onto South Shore Road.

Pony Bridge

Discover Pony Bridge and why experienced hikers have added an exclamation point to its name. Please call the USFS Ranger Station in Quinault for road conditions and accessibility:  360-288-2525

Permits/Reservations: Obtain permits at the WIC in Port Angeles or at the South Shore Lake Quinault Ranger Station located next to Lake Quinault Lodge. No reservations necessary.
Food Storage Method: Bear canisters.  Bear canisters are recommended in other areas without wires.
Campsites: Pony Bridge.
Toilet Facilities: SaniCan at trailhead. In other areas bury waste 6-8″ 200 ft from water sources and campsites. Please pack out toilet paper.
Water Source:  East Fork Quinault River and tributary streams. Always boil, filter or chemically treat your drinking water to prevent Giardia.
Stock: Allowed, check stock regulations. See Stock Use.

Special Concerns

Leave No Trace: Leave No Trace of your stay to protect vegetation and prevent further camping regulations. Camp in established sites or on bare ground.
Campfires: To protect sensitive vegetation, campfires are not allowed above 3,500 feet. Leave no trace of your fire ring.
Respect Wildlife: To protect bears and other wildlife, all food, garbage and scented items must be secured from all wildlife 24 hours a day.  No pets.

Safety

  • Enchanted Valley is home to many  bears. Always secure all food, garbage and scented items from bears and other wildlife.
  • During Fall, Winter and Spring months, winter weather can occur even at lower elevations. Be prepared for down trees, snow, stream crossings, trail and road washouts and cool, very wet weather.
  • Trees can also fall across the Graves Creek Road. Don’t get trapped.  That could be a bummer.

 

 

 

 

 

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply