This 9.6-mile out-and-back along the mighty Elwha River into the heart of the Olympic Peninsula follows the same route as the famed 1889-90 Seattle Press Expedition. This five-man party explored what would become Olympic National Park and named numerous rivers, canyons, valleys, peaks, and ranges.
The route also passes through one of the largest tracts of old-growth forest in North America as you traverse the slopes high above a narrow gorge on the Elwha River Trail. Stick to the main trail past two junctions to reach Michael’s Cabin, a 1906 homestead. Stay left on the Elwha Trail and pass through a stretch of second growth (fires swept the area in the early 1990s) with a dense understory. Join the Lillian River Trail at 4.3 miles for a steep descent to the river and prime camping. Return the way you came.
Info: (360) 565-3100; nps.gov/olym
-Hike provided by Craig Romano, author of Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Mountaineers Books)