Olympic National Park - August 18-22 - Trail Suggestions?
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Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Olympic National Park - August 18-22 - Trail Suggestions? on 05/13/2012 15:31:39 MDT Print View

Hi All,
I just wanted to tap the community for trail suggestions for a 5 day backpack through Olympic NP in mid-August. I'm open to other options, but my initial thoughts are to do a loop, at a pace of between 12-15 miles per day (okay, fine, I'd love to do more mileage, but my companions keep saying they want to have fun). We basically have 5 full days in the park - everyone will be in Seattle by evening on the 17th, and flights home are midday on the 23rd. Our group is comprised of relatively fit 20-somethings, and as trip leader I'm mandating a 15lbs or less baseweight - we don't have any backpacking noobies, but they aren't all UL'ers just yet. Personally, I don't expect my skinout weight to be more than 14lbs (bear canisters, grrr).

As far as scenery goes, I'm open to it everything the park has to offer - the coast, the rainforests and valleys, and the mountains. Did I mention I love mountains? That said, I'd prefer avoid routes where crampons/ice axes are needed/recommended. Microspikes maybe, if I can find a local outfitter who will rent them out.

Where in the park would you go if this was your trip?

Thanks!

Joe

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Olympic National Park - August 18-22 - Trail Suggestions? on 05/13/2012 17:13:31 MDT Print View

I'm sure you've seen http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm - and the wilderness trail and map there

I've gone from Obstruction Point trailhead and I've done High Divide, which are great, but a lot of people and require permits.

Maybe a loop out of Graves Creek Trailhead, up Enchanted Valley, over O'Neil Pass,... I haven't been there but I've heard there are a lot of bears in Enchanted Valley and I'm sure you'de get excellent mountain views.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Olympic National Park - August 18-22 - Trail Suggestions? on 05/13/2012 17:31:31 MDT Print View

Joseph,

There are 2 factors that might dictate your trail/mileage: (1) ONP is very large, so a loop is probably your best option, unless you have a definite shuttle worked out ahead of time. It's still 2-3 hours back to SeaTac even from the Hood Canal side. (2) It's a NP, so you have to camp in established campsites.

Here's a loop that I like:

Start on the east side/Hood Canal side near the town of Brinnon. The Dosewallips River Road is washed out about 4+ miles up, where you leave the car. You can hike up the road to the Dosewallips Campground/TH, where the trail starts (this is uphill but easy walking that could be done with a late start). Then following the West Fork of the Dosewallips River up to Honeymoon Meadow, up and over La Crosse Pass to the Duckabush River, up to Marmot Lake/Hart Lake, over O'Neill Pass and around to the Enchanted Valley. Here, it might be fun to walk down the valley a few miles to the ranger station, then back up and over Anderson Pass, with a side trip to Anderson Glacier. Over Anderson Pass and you're back to Honeymoon Meadows and down the road to the car. you shouldn't need any crampons/axes, as this is all hiking. Also, the distances don't seem that great, but sometimes the trail runs through thick forests with lots of downed trees and has a few stream crossings.

The last time I did this (2003?), I carried a heavier load, probably 40+ lbs. We camped at Dosewallips TH, Honeymoon Mdws, Upper Duckabush, Hart Lake (a short day), Honeymoon Mdws (this was a long day) and then out. You should be able to manage the distances better with less weight. That trip we saw 9 black bears and a herd of Roosevelt Elk.

Here's a shot of Anderson Glacier, sometime after O'Neill Pass:
Anderson Glacier

Edited by saparisor on 05/13/2012 17:33:55 MDT.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Re: Olympic National Park - August 18-22 - Trail Suggestions? on 05/13/2012 19:55:39 MDT Print View

Jerry, Steven,
Thanks for the suggestions, you both provided great options. I'm perhaps somewhat partial to starting from Dosewallips trailhead and looping the passes, as I'm something of a sucker for big up and downs. I'll mention each to my group and see what they think.

Thanks,

Joe

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Another suggestion on 05/14/2012 00:45:56 MDT Print View

Jerry and Steven are both dead on. It's a large park and there are no easy ways to reach many of the best areas. It all involves longish drives and a loop hike would be probably the easiest.

Here is a suggestion that riffs off of Steven's suggestion. A bit different how you go in (and a longer drive). But still very doable. You really need to look at a map to understand how all these areas sort of connect with one another.

Enchanted Valley - LaCrosse Basin loop

You start near Lake Quinault, through the Enchanted Valley and then climb over LaCrosse Pass (after a quick side climb to Anderson glacier if you wish). From there you can go to Home Sweet Home and take a look around and/or camp, then return back down the trail and climb up to Lake Lacrosse and Hart Lake. Many great camping spots. From their you climb down O'Neill Pass and if the weather is good, get great mountain views all the way to the Enchanted Valley. You return again to lake Quinault.

The hike is a fun one, full of up and downs (about 10,200 feet or 12,400 if you go up and visit Home Sweet Home) over 59 miles (66 if visiting Home Sweet Home).

August is generally a very dry time, so if the weather is good, this would be a really nice trip that provides plenty of climbing, a good stream crossing, lovely peaks, wildflowers and likely some bears. It also has the advantage of being a place where you could start your hike in rather later in the day and take a camping spot near the river. It can get moderately crowded as people like the relatively minor climb to the Enchanted Valley itself (which admittedly, is actually better earlier in the year when there are more waterfalls from melting snows). But you get some temperate rain forest, some great climbs, some beautiful ridges, peaks and lakes, all in one great trip.

Plenty of water. Good camping spots. Check with rangers regard bear canister requirements - they are rather finicky about this. You must at least hang bags in several areas. Also check road conditions before you go.

Dirk

Tommy Franzen
(Tomlike) - F

Locale: Pacific Wonderland
another loop idea on 05/14/2012 13:04:08 MDT Print View

You can't go wrong in the Olympics at that time of year! The Enchanted Valley/LaCrosse Basin loop is a classic, and contains the best the park has to offer (lush forest, river, views, lakes), the only 'downside' I guess is that you have to hike the East Fork Quinault trail twice.

Another loop idea in the NE corner of the park, around 50 miles:

Dear Park->Cedar Lake->Gray Wolf Pass->Dose Meadows/Hayden Pass/1000 Acre->Cameron Pass->Grand Pass->Obstruction Pt.->Deer Park

Mileage could look something like:

Day 1: Falls Shelter (10.5)
Day 2: Dose Meadows via Cedar Lake (13.2)
Day 3: Dose or 1000 Acre Meadows, day hike to Hayden Pass/climb Sentinel (9 miles)
Day 4: Grand Valley (11 miles)
Day 5: Out via Obstruction Point (12 miles)

The area between Hayden Pass north to Cameron Pass is one of the most beautiful in the park (there are so many though!), and like most of the interior of the park, it takes a full day or two to get to.

Search the internets for Lost Pass, 1000 Acre Meadow, Hayden Pass, Cameron Pass. Lots of up and downs on this route, so take that into consideration with your mileage

Edited by Tomlike on 05/14/2012 13:11:28 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: another loop idea on 05/14/2012 14:12:33 MDT Print View

I've done some of that loop out of Deer Park.

I agree, spectacular views.

Unfortunately, it's kind of crowded and highly regulated, like I think you have to reserve specific campsites for specific nights. The campsites are marked with logs or rocks and you're supposed to stay within those areas.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Olympic National Park - August 18-22 - Trail Suggestions? on 05/14/2012 14:34:51 MDT Print View

I think Jerry is right about that area needing special permits. Also, I do think starting up from Quinault/Enchanted Valley would be a great way to start. The only downside is driving to Lake Quinault from Seattle takes a little longer. If you look at an area map, the road doesn't follow the southern border of the park but heads farther south and then back north in a "U" shape. Just something to be aware of.

Here is a link to the park's Wilderness map, useful for it's overview. Look at the small print for backcountry campground info, including which sites have established bear wires. Just check with the actual wilderness office to verify whether a bear canister is needed or not.

http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm (click the link for Wilderness Trail and Camp map)