Press Expedition Trail (Elwha to Quinault)

For this adventure, we would hike the Press Expedition Route from the Elwha to Lake Quinault. This land is protected inside the Olympic National Park, so we were in for an adventure. We re-supplied food in Port Angeles, Washington and headed towards the trail.

Elwha to Quinault Trail (Press Expedition) Details

We started our adventure at the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the Elwha Valley. From there we would hike on the Elwha River Trail 29 miles, to a pass called Low Divide. We reached the start of the Quinault at the Low Divide (Skyline Trail also starts here), and then we would walk the North Fork Quinault trail 16 miles down the river valley (North Fork Trailhead). Want to learn more? Complete trail guides to the Olympic Peninsula.

Editor's Note: Article part of a multi-week backpacking trip in the Olympic National Park.

Elwha Trail
Elwha River Trail, Olympic National Park

Our Press Expedition hiking map from Elwha to Quinault

Notes from Our Hike

  The first few days were spent lounging around on gravel bars of the Elwha River.  We were lazy and even doing laundry in the sun. We didn't see many people, but we did see numerous wildlife, which was a surprise to me; since it was so dry in the first.

trail laundry
Laundry in the river (no soap) 

wood burning stove
Making dinner with my Trail Designs Wood Burning Stove

mountain goat
Just as the sun was going down I was already asleep.  Something woke me and as my shelter fell halfway down.  Recalled seeing a white flash as I awoke.  The next morning the nature alarm of the sound of hoofs hitting the ground made me jump out of the Sleeping Bag.   To my surprise it was a young Mountain Goat in the Elwha Valley. 

elwha trail
Hiking through a 100 year untouched forest in the Elwha Valley

Ultralight tent in camp on the Elwha river gravel bar

Botten Cabin
The Park is busy restoring Botten Cabin in the Elwha Valley.

barefoot in mud
Barefoot through the swamps of the Elwha

goodkin creek
Vibram Five Finger Seeya crossing a temporary log bridge until the new one is in place

mount seattle
Reflections of Mt. Seattle near the Low Divide

martins park trail
A side trip

martins park trail
Exploring the upper corners of the Elwha

mount christie
Mount Christie

bug headnet
I got tired of eating mosquitoes with every breath - the bug head net is a great invention

martins park trail
Woke up at 3am in the middle of a meteor shower, then again before sunrise, we tried to beat the bugs.

low divide sign
Crossing over to the Quinault River side

minimalist footwear olympic
Items used the most during this section - later used a water bottle on the filter - since threads do not match up on the Platypus Bags

16 mile ford quinault
Crossing the 16 Mile Ford (note: summer during dry period)

north fork quinault trail
Wandering down the North Fork Quinault Trail - heading to our Post Office resupply

backpacking quinault
Started off the morning with a small Black Bear in the trail - hitched to the Post Office with a group of Boyscouts - after a short time we were back to walking the road - 20 miles to the next trailhead, so another hitch would be needed

On the next part of this adventure, we visit La Crosse Basin for a few days!

Updated in March 2017