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Olympic National Park in Late May
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Jonathan Riley
(jedeye459) - F

Locale: South East
Olympic National Park in Late May on 03/24/2011 08:18:08 MDT Print View

I already posted this on white blaze, but I was interested to get input from you guys over here as well. so here it goes...

I have the opportunity to visit the Olympic National Park in Late May(26-31st) and i was told I may need Snowshoes in the high country. I was planning to take the Enchanted Valley Trail and then over Anderson Pass(4,464') and then over to Hayden Pass(5,847').

My questions is this - will I need snowshoes? I'm sure the valleys will be fine, but there are just a few passes and stretches where there could be a lot of snow lingering. Any advise on how much snow to expect in the Olympics + gear that would be helpful would be appreciated.


Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Olympics in May on 03/24/2011 08:30:13 MDT Print View

How much snow will linger depends on the weather these next two months as much as anything. It could be all melt action from here on out or it could snow (a lot) more. Hard to say.

You will want an ice-axe for those passes regardless, and probably need to hold off deciding about snowshoes until closer to the time you are leaving.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Olympic National Park in Late May on 03/24/2011 08:30:34 MDT Print View

Even the valleys might not be clear in May. Peak snow is usually about now - March/April - and then starts to melt off. High country can be snowbound until August quite easily and even at just 2000' snow can linger into July. Your best bet is to closely watch the ONP trail reports and check trip reports at and They're the best for recent, accurate trail conditions.

For Enchanted Valley in particular, you'll probably be able to get back to the end of the valley, but the passes will likely be under heavy snow. Biggest concern that time of year in that area would likely be spring avalanches. We've had a cool spring so far and nothing has started melting at all. Olympics were out in full glory yesterday and they're absolutely buried in snow.

Keep an eye on the reports. Have a backup trip or two planned. Be flexible. Beautiful area, though. The waterfalls in the EV should be stunning at that time!

Jonathan Riley
(jedeye459) - F

Locale: South East
Olympic National Park in Late May on 03/24/2011 08:36:36 MDT Print View

Awesome, thanks for the info guys - very insightful! I will keep an eye on those trail reports.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Olympic National Park in Late May on 03/24/2011 09:20:50 MDT Print View has excellent trip report forums. It is the best place to get first hand info on Washington trails. Just plain good reading and photos too.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Olympic National Park in Late May on 03/25/2011 21:14:29 MDT Print View

Yeah, what Dale said. There are basically two big sources for trip reports in the Northwest: and WTA has just trip reports. In other words, you can't ask this question. nwhikers, on the other hand, allows you to ask this very question (on trail talk) where you will get a lot of responses.

My guess is that you will need snow shoes. It is possible that the snow will consolidate, and you will only need something like yaktraks, but my guess is that it will still be mushy by then (a lot depends on how conditions are just before you go hiking). Keep in mind, that depending on the area, route finding might be a challenge.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Olympic National Park in Late May on 03/26/2011 00:32:48 MDT Print View

I've only been over Anderson in August, switchbacking up dry trail. The pass itself isn't that impressive, just a low saddle and still in the trees. You might have to pay close attention to route-finding. I don't do much winter hiking over passes like that, but I would think the above advice on ice axe and at least some traction device is good.

Also, keep in mind that no trail maintenance will have been done yet. I don't know about the EV b/c I came at Anderson from O'Neil Pass, but the Dosewallips valley will probably have a lot of blown-down trees, especially around Diamond Mdw and Big Timber camps. The Dosewallips river can be tough to cross in a few areas too. As a half-way exit point, just note there won't be anyone at Dosewallips Ranger Station and the road is still washed out between 5-8 (can't remember) miles down the road. No big deal, just a long road walk.

I also think the going will be tough from Bear Camp up and over Hayden Pass.

May might make this a difficult trip, but I think Olympic is absolutely amazing!

Edit: not sure what the requirements are for that time of year, but I think bear canisters are now required for ONP.

Edited by saparisor on 03/26/2011 00:35:02 MDT.