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Backpacker Magazine – August 2008

Olympic National Park

Explore two ecosystems in this hinterland of moss-draped forests, ancient trees, and snowcapped peaks.

by: By Michael Lanza

Dosewallips Mountains (Don Geyer)
Dosewallips Mountains (Don Geyer)

What distinguishes backpacking in Olympic National Park from any other park in the Lower 48? The ability to go from one of the planet's lushest temperate rainforests to alpine wildflower meadows beneath glaciated peaks. The stunning scenery has not gone unnoticed: Olympic's best-known hikes can offer all the solitude of a Seattle coffee shop. Beat the crowds by following in the footsteps of the 1890 Press Expedition, led by the first non-native Americans to cross the Low Divide, a high pass that divides drainages between the Pacific and Puget Sound.



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Tim Culbertson
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We completed this trip this past week. The scenery and variety truly is stellar - you will see an unforgettable sampling of the Olympic Peninsula on this trip and the views really are amazing.

A few updates & words of advice:
1. Do your research before attempting this trip; it is not appropriate for beginners.
2. This article suggests that Lake Beauty to Three Prune can be completed in one day. In my opinion, you would have to be in AMAZING shape to pull this off. The Skyline Trail in this section is very difficult to follow (going tiny cairn to tiny cairn over a moonscape - literally no trail) and the elevation profile is very strenuous. Camping is possible on the east side of Kimta - there are campsites & water near the top.
3. Twelve Mile camp shelter is gone & the campsite is near a lot of widowmakers. Recommend pushing on 0.5 mile to Sixteen Mile.
4. The mileage from Three Prune to the trailhead is mis-stated in this article. It's more like 12 miles.
5. Our itinerary which worked out very well: Day 1 - 12 miles to Sixteen Mile Camp; Day 2 - 12 miles to Lake Beauty, skipping Martins Park; Day 3 - 7 miles to Kimta; Day 4 - 10 miles to Three Lakes; Day 5 - 9 miles out.
6. There is a laundry and pay showers ($0.25/minute) at the Rain Forest Resort near the Quinault Lake Ranger station near the trailhead.

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R
Jan 20, 2011

Don't waste your money at the Crab House. There are many good restaurants in Port Angeles and Sequim (about 15 minutes away) serving fresh, local cuisine. Otherwise, this article is spot on.

Barry Slater
Sep 08, 2008

I just spent a week in the North Cascades National park and did not have the chance to visit Olympic. I can't wait for a return trip to hike ONP.

Andrew Rankine
Sep 03, 2008

It's really beautiful up here, and is only 2 hours from Seattle. There are bus lines that go up from Seattle to Port Angeles, and from there you can see it all, Even to Vancouver Island (which is a 1.5 hour ferry ride away). A really great place. Best to go in the summer. In late July in Sequim the Lavendar Festival is great.

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