NW DESTINATIONS - HIGH DIVIDE TRAIL...6.5 MILES
DIRECTIONS TO : SOL DUC TRAILHEAD - MILEPOST 219
NEAREST CAMPGROUND: Sol Duc (5 miles from trailhead)
RANGER STATION : pay phone, toilets, water and permit registration all located at or near Eagle Ranger Station.
CAUTION: UPPER STRETCHES OF THE TRAIL ARE SNOWBOUND UNTIL MID-TO-LATE SUMMER. DON'T VENTURE TOWARD HIGH DIVIDE WITHOUT AN ICE AX AND THE ABILITY TO USE IT.
INFO ABOUT TRAIL :
.....This region within the park centers around the Sol Duc River. This drainage begins immediately west of Cat Creek in Sol Duc Park. It flows westward with its tributaries descending from High Divide northward and Aurora Ridge southward. The western ridge of Mt. Appleton separates the north and main forks of the Sol Duc River.
.....Several trails wind through the tributary drainages, passes, basins and valleys of the Sol Duc River. The main trailhead lies at the end of Sol Duc River Road at an elevation of 1,640 feet. The trails of the main fork Sol Duc stem to the east and south from this trailhead. Following the road downstream you'll reach the facilities of the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.
.....The Hoh Lake Trail, which begins just east of the Olympus Guard Station on the Hoh River Trail, is a pleasant day trip for Hoh River hikers who've pitched a camp at the nine-mile mark. It's also an alternate route to High Divide, as well as a connecting leg for backpackers crossing from the Hoh to Sol Duc River drainages.
.....The trail begins near a grassy flat along the Hoh, switching back very steeply through tree stumps that stand as charred reminders of a 1978 forest fire that consumed a thousand acres of prime greenery. Here, the underbrush is thick, the trail is narrow and the campsites are few. Above the burn, the trail levels out somewhat, passing through a series of small meadows (including one good campsite at C.B. Flats) before opening to Hoh Lake, a pristine, aqua jewel, 5.25 miles above the Hoh River Trail. Fishing is good here in the fall, when water thaws and warms enough to awake sleeping rainbow and Eastern brook trout. Campsites are few; the area has been re-vegetated, and visitors should stay in established sites only. The trail skirts Hoh Lake to the east and climbs steadily about 1.2 miles to High Divide, where it intersects with the High Divide Trail just below the summit of Bogachiel Peak.
.....The SEVEN LAKES REGION is spectacular, and I highly recommend it. It is a lake basin with a trail that encircles it -- fully loaded it is possible to walk the trail around it in a really long day or so, but most people take more time to see more. Along one edge is High Divide, which is a trail along a very narrow ridgeline, down 700 feet to the lakes on the north, down 4000 feet to the Hoh Valley on the south with direct, close up views of the glaciated Mt. Olympus across the valley. The Seven Lakes region is one gorilla day from the Sol Duc trailhead. It would certainly be possible to go from Sol Duc trailhead to Sol Duc Park one day, around to Deer Lake the next and then out in the morning, but it would seem a shame -- most people take a week. There is a convenient, if steep (40 switch backs) trail that connects the Seven Lakes with the Hoh trail.
.....This general forest area lies on the central western boundary of Olympic National Park. The headwaters of the Bogachiel River lie on High Divide immediately south of the Sol Duc drainage. The headwaters for the Hoh River lie on the western aspect of the Bailey Range.
BAILEY RANGE TRAVERSE:
...The Bailey Range is a trail-less alpine route in the Olympics. It connects the High Divide region with the Mt. Olympus massif. The northern region (Mts. Carrie, Stephen, and Ferry) are the major Bailey peaks visible from Hurricane Ridge. A strenuous and difficult traverse of the range (class 2-3 rock, 30+ degree steep snow, and route-finding) involves a 6-9 day trip. Most travelers start at the High Divide, hiking about 12 miles of trail to the "Catwalk," an exposed spine of earth that makes or breaks Bailey wanna-be's.
...Beyond Dodger Point, a little-used trail descends to the Elwha River, which must be forded at Remann's Cabin. A cross-country route also leads along an abandoned trail to Ludden Peak and provides access to the wild Bailey Range.
...To the south, the deep timbered valley of the Elwha River carries the eye into the heart of the mountains where the snow-capped peaks of the Bailey Range stretch away like a high broken wall. Behind them, a slight bit hazy with distance, the summit of Mount Olympus breaks through its perpetual snowfields and glaciers, distant blue, and implacable.
...One possible loop trail would be to cross the Elwha at the bridge about 3 miles in and climb the Long Ridge Trail, with views west over the Bailey Range to Mount Olympus, and east to Hurricane Ridge. This trail rejoins the Elwha in about 15 miles (no bridge try this in late summer when the water's low), where you could turn back downriver.
...Needless to say, our pace was slower than we had anticipated. By the time we broke out of the tree line and into an alpine meadow, daylight was retreating fast. But what a view! The Bailey Range, which includes Mount Olympus, tallest peak in the Olympics, rose up before us, dusted with the season's first snow.
...There is access to the Bailey Range via a short way trail that heads toward Ludden Peak, and then ends abruptly. The experienced mountaineer must choose a rugged cross-country route beyond that point.
...The trail affords access to the Elwha River for the purposes of fishing. There are rustic cabins of historic interest. Elkhorn and Hayes River ranger stations are staffed intermittently during the summer season. The Elwha Basin Trail takes off for cross-country approaches to the Bailey Range. Subalpine flowers and views at Low Divide.
...The Bailey Range traverse was made popular by Herb Crisler, who photographed the Disney film Olympic Elk in the Bailey Range in the 1930s and early 1940s. The route was first traveled by Billy Everett, who reached Cream Lake Basin in 1885 at the age of 16. Billy Everett made the traverse many times.
...High Divide/Glacier Meadows -- Perhaps the finest trail hike into the high country on the west side of Olympic National Park, this variation begins in forest along the Sol Duc River, climbs to the flowery meadows of High Divide on the edge of the Bailey Range, descends steeply to the Hoh River trail and then climbs up into the icy face of Mount Olympus at Glacier Meadows. Wildlife -- elk, deer, bears -- is abundant. It is 24.7 miles one way and a gain of 6,600 feet. Starting at the end of the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road (off Highway 101 just west of Lake Crescent), the trail reaches a junction shortly. Take the left fork, continuing up the river all the way to High Divide, and then west along the divide to the Hoh Lake trail. Follow the Hoh Lake trail down to the main Hoh trail, and from there travel up Olympus to Glacier Meadows. It is best to arrange for a pickup and return via the main Hoh trail. Sunsets and sunrises from high camps and the alpenglow of Olympus' glaciers are sublime.