Driving 120 miles roundtrip for a 2-mile hike might not sound "worth it," but if you slow down and savor the sights along the Spider Lake loop trail, those 2 miles will take you worlds away.
Bring a good friend with maps and a forest-service pass. Bring coffee, chocolate-chip cookies, trail mix, two peaches. Bring your camera (and know how to work your close-up lens. Be willing to stop and marvel at everything. Bring Plants of the Pacific Northwest ("Pojars") and a guide to fungus. Do not think twice about getting down on your hands and knees to get a good look at a quarter-inch-tall fungus or beetle. Don't be surprised if your camera can't quite capture the colors, the details, the texture, the nuances of sunlight and shadow, the way the forest is telling you that summer is over. Have fun anyway.
Here are some of the the things we saw in this mature Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock, Western Red-Cedar forest: Vine Maple, Devil's Club, Stink Currant, Cascara, Ocean Spray, Salmon Berry, Thimbleberry, Red Huckleberry, Salal, Sword Fern, Maidenhair Fern, Bracken, Age on Youth, Red Elderberry, Beaked Hazel, Red Alder, False Solomon's Seal, Hooker's Fairybells, False Lily-of-the-Valley, Queen's Cup, Bunchberry, Foamflower, Vanilla Leaf, Scouler's Corydalis, Lungwort. And....shelf fungus resembling stingrays and the starship Enterprise, the shed exoskeletons of dragonfly larvae inside a hollow cedar stump, teeny tiny cup-shaped fungus, a small population of weather-worn tree stumps emerging ghostlike from the clear, blue-green lake.
Spider Lake is a small lake in the Olympic National Forest, halfway between Lake Cushman and the Skokomish River. It's not easy to find, especially since the driving directions in Day Hiking the Olympic Peninsula and on the Washington Trails Association website are not correct (due to changes in forest-service roads and access). I will be posting correct directions here and on the WTA Trip Report for Spider Lake so you can find your way to this gem of a lake and rich, satisfying ramble. The drive to High Steel Bridge after is well worth it as long as you are not afraid of heights, experience vertigo, lean over too far and lose your sunglasses, camera, or cell phone to the Skokomish River.
Meanwhile, enjoy the photo gallery above (just hover 'n' click on the photo to advance them).