Backpacking Across Olympic National Park

About Our Route Across the Olympic Mountains

  Walk across the Olympic National Park in Washington State. We started the hike near Hurricane Ridge at the north of the Park. Then we followed trails and even off trail to the south at Lake Quinault.

 This is a custom route that I put together from years of walking in the mountains.  Our path would include 2 days of off trail travel, intersect the Pacific Northwest Trail for a full day, sleeping on the shoulder of the Bailey Range and then continuing southbound on a high ridge into the Quinault Rainforest.   

  This route would lead us into some beautiful country.  Each campsite was hand picked from the years wandering the mountains.  I do not want to include the names of these places, for the sake of the impact the internet has on remote wilderness.  Some of these points of interest have a trail to them and some do not.  I will leave that up to your imaginations.  

Editor's Warning: Detailed map reading, route finding and compass required. Several of the days include a traverse that require basic mountaineering skills.  It is not suggested for a hiker that does not feel comfortable with exposure (cliffs) or leaving a maintained trail.

Lake Lillian Olympic
Second day off trail

Places We Visited and What We Saw

We slept at a glacier that has receded to the point of melting. Then a few days later, we got to see them still alive and doing well. We timed our trip to be during a time of year, where there was minimal snowpack.

Although we did not see any Olympic Elk, several Black Bear were viewed grazing on wild berries near our camp. We competed with any bear in the area for the amount of berries we ate on this trip. One of the nights, an hour was spent observing Olympic Marmot near another camp as well.

Details on Wilderness Camping

  The Olympic Mountains hold a special place in my heart, it gives me a good feeling to share the area with others.  This time I would be accompanied by my lovely girlfriend.  She was the perfect addition to the trip. Sure is a big change of pace from sleeping alone; like what I'm acclimated to. It was also nice to be able to split up the weight of our backpacking gear.

Food was also divided between us. I would carry weight dense calories and she would have bulky items inside her backpack.  That way to minimize the impact on our bodies for such an adventure. Lots of junk food was consumed.

across olympic national park
10 day route map

obstruction trailhead
Morning with Mount Olympus

lillian ridge olympic
High route

moose olympic
Lunch spot - looking into our destination 

lillian ridge traverse
High route across rock

lillian glacier
Dinner view

Day 3: Off Trail to a Trail

Lillian glacier
Attempting a higher route

lake lillian traverse
Tired and plotting the route ahead

lake lillian olympic
Leaving our lunch spot

Lake lillian traverse
Ascending the col

cameron olympic
Looking over the Cameron

lost basin olympic
Reaching a trail again

backpack olympic national park
Pre-autumn high camp

Day 4: Lounging and Exploring Around

Mount Claywood

olympic marmot

hayden pass olympic
Exploring the evening

dosewallips river source

sentinel peak olympic

Day 5: Mountain Summit, to Rain Forest Bottom

mount anderson olympic
Summit view of Mount Anderson

backpack olympic mountains
Summit view 

Day 6: Valley Floor to High Alpine Lakes

Upper elwha valley
Old alder forest

mount seattle olympic
Mount Seattle

martins park olympic

martins park olympic
Evening photographer

Day 7: Alpine Lakes to Glacier Floor

ultralight backpacking meal
Fresh berries in our breakfast - Bobcat Kovea Stove

martins lake olympic

elwha snow finger
Elwha Snow Finger

olympic alpine lake

seattle basin

Day 8: High Basin to Moonscape

seattle creek
Seattle Creek

alpine tarn

mount seattle olympic
Mount Seattle from the south

lake beauty olympic
Lake above the Queets Valley

valhalla olympic

mount olympus olympic
Photographing Olympus from the south

Skyline primitive trail

skyline olympic

ultralight backpacking olympic

Day 9: Mars to River Bottom

olympic wilderness photography

queets valley
Queets River Valley

Day 10: Rain Forest to Trailhead

north fork quinault trailhead

Video of Our Olympic National Park Adventure

What We Learned From the Trip

It was amazingly helpful to practice packing our overnight camping gear into our backpacks, before leaving for this adventure. The weight and space of that much food is a real challenge. Especially, when most of the areas we hiked into required you to store food in a bear canister.

Updated on January 2017 by Barefoot Jake