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Backpacker Magazine – June 2010

Secret Hikes: Olympic National Park Hiking

Walk from lush rainforest to wide-open glacier views on this 43-mile sneak route.

by: Michael Lanza

150-tall hemlock and Sitka spruce on the Bogachel River Trail. (Ramey Newell)
150-tall hemlock and Sitka spruce on the Bogachel River Trail. (Ramey Newell)

Few hikes in the world take you from stands of 200-foot-tall, centuries-old trees to wildflower meadows with views of glaciated peaks. Even rarer are such rainforest-to-mountain footpaths that remain unknown and untraveled—like the Bogachiel Trail, which is routinely bypassed in favor of its popular neighbor, the Hoh River Trail.

From Undie Road in Bogachiel State Park, you’ll hike from lowlands of towering Douglas firs, Western hemlock, and Sitka spruce (and the largest known silver fir, seven feet in diameter) along the steelhead-rich Bogachiel River, to open parklands carpeted in huckleberries, strawberries, heather, and Columbia lilies. Expect to see more black bears, marmots, and Roosevelt elk than bipeds. Short on time? Go out-and-back, as far as your schedule allows, on the 25.8-mile Bogachiel Trail. But the best route links the Bogachiel with the High Divide and Sol Duc Trails for a 43.3-mile, horseshoe-shaped trek. En route you’ll tag 5,474-foot Bogachiel Peak before continuing onto the High Divide Trail, following it along a wide-open ridge for two miles, with unbroken views of ice- and snow-shrouded Mt. Olympus. Then descend into the rainforest of the Sol Duc River—it’s every bit as magnificent as the Hoh but without the train of hikers.

›› Magic Moment After traversing rock gardens with pockets of glacier lilies, you pause to munch on huckleberries (ripe in late summer) in rich Bogachiel Basin at mile 14.

›› Local Knowledge Seven Lakes Basin is great, but pitch your tent at Sol Duc Park Camp, in meadows below craggy Mt. Appleton, instead. Two reasons: Guaranteed solitude, and from here you can take an eight-mile dayhike on the High Divide Trail to the Catwalk, a pulse-quickening traverse of a knife-edge ridge. Warning: Avoid it when wet; it’s dangerously exposed.

›› Do It
Start: From Bogachiel State Park, turn east onto Bogachiel River Road and head 4.3 miles to the trailhead. End: From Lake Crescent, take US 101 1.9 miles east to Sol Duc River Road. Drive 13.8 miles to its end. Maps Green Trails Spruce Mountain, Mt. Tom, and Mount Olympus ($6 each; greentrailsmaps
.com). Contact (360) 565-3100;

[Best-Kept Secret]

Park stats: 4,000 miles of streams, 602 lakes, and 70 miles of coastline. Not enough? The Bogachiel is stocked with 50,000 steelhead and has both summer and winter runs. Cherry on top: If you’re just trout fishing, you don’t need a license.

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Reader Rating: -


Frank Watson
Dec 27, 2010

I agree with Mark, on the Green Trails maps.
If you are spending much time in the Olympics
get "Custom Correct" maps. They were designed, & mileages verified by a local hiking Legend. They are laid out by "hiking areas", not by Lat./Long.
One Custom Correct can often take the place of three, sometimes four Green Trails.....

Mark Griffith
Jul 08, 2010

Green Trails maps aren't detailed enough to navigate with.


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