LOW DIVIDE TRAIL
Length 2.6 mi/4.2 km
Access Elwha Trail; North Fork Quinault Trail
USGS Map Mount Christie
Agency Olympic National Park
This route begins on the Elwha Trail at Chicago Camp (2185 ft/666 m), near the head of Press Valley, and more or less follows the Press Expedition's route to Low Divide.
The trail crosses the Elwha River, and then traverses stands of dense forest on the river bottom to the base of Mount Seattle. At this point the path climbs sharply as it switchbacks up the lower flanks of the peak. At times one can look back across the Elwha to the forested slopes beyond and also view Elizabeth Falls in a branch of Delabarre Creek. The cascades, so named by the Press Expedition, but also called Delabarre Falls, plunge noisily down the side of Mount Christie.
At the base of Mount Christie, the trail angles to the west, following a narrow ledge below the sandstone cliffs climbed by the Press Expedition. As it approaches Low Divide, the path edges by two lakes discovered and named by the expedition. The first one, Lake Mary (3350 ft/1082 m), is relatively warm for a subalpine pool-a good place to swim on a hot day. A vantage point here provides a view down the upper Elwha or Press Valley for many miles. Lake Margaret (3600 ft/1097m), about double the size of Lake Mary, supports a thick growth of water lilies, a plant usually found at lower altitudes. Mount Seattle is visible from this lake. The broad, massive peak culminates in two sharp pinnacles connected by a snow-crowned ridge.
Both lakes are encircled by dense stands of mountain hemlock and Alaska cedar. The tracks of elk, bear, and an occasional cougar may be observed imprinted in the soft mud near the shorelines.
Beyond the junction with the Martins Park Trail (2.3 mi/3.7 km; 3600 ft/ 1097 m), on the south shore of Lake Margaret, the trail climbs over a low hump- the high point of Low Divide (3662 ft/1116 m)-then descends to Low Divide Ranger Station (2.6 mi/4.2 km; 3602 ft/1099 m), where the route becomes the North Fork Quinault Trail.