The Excessive Divide Path within the Seven Lakes Basin of the Olympic Peninsula is among the most coveted mountaineering and backpacking routes in Washington State.
Full of unimaginable views of jagged Olympic peaks, verdant rainforests, and glistening alpine lakes, this 19-mile loop is often completed as a 1 to 3-night backpacking journey, though some folks do full it as a day hike.
I hosted a Bearfoot Principle group journey on the Excessive Divide Path (additionally known as the Seven Lakes Basin Loop) and we spent 4 days tenting and exploring.
Spoiler alert: it was spectacular.
We began within the rainforest and ended up within the excessive alpine with clear views of the glaciers on Mount Olympus and unimaginable fall colours.
On this weblog submit, I recap our expertise backpacking the Excessive Divide and Seven Lakes Path and share necessary data for anybody who’s contemplating backpacking this iconic Pacific Northwest path.
Because it goes in the entire locations we share, please apply good path etiquette and bear in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out all your rubbish, being respectful to others on busy trails, and following the established guidelines.
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Watch my YouTube Video highlighting our backpacking journey on Olympic Nationwide Park’s Excessive Divide Path and Seven Lakes Basin Loop:
The Excessive Divide & Seven Lakes Basin Loop Fundamentals
- Distance: 19.1 miles
- Issue: Tough
- Elevation Change: 5,387 ft
- Time wanted: 2-4 days
- Allow Wanted? Sure, for overnights (extra data under)
- Go wanted: Olympic Nationwide Park entrance payment or America the Stunning Annual Go
- Canines Allowed? No
- Finest time to go: July – September
The Excessive Divide Path is situated in Olympic Nationwide Park on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.
The path begins on the Sol Duc River trailhead, which is situated 3.5 hours drive from Seattle (by way of ferry or via Tacoma).
From there, the path winds its manner up via dense, moss-draped forests and previous cascading waterfalls, finally reaching the alpine setting of the Excessive Divide, a mountainous ridge providing panoramic views.
The path then skirts the sting of the Seven Lakes Basin, a collection of pristine alpine lakes, earlier than looping again all the way down to the trailhead. This loop is called the Seven Lakes Basin Loop.
Excessive Divide & Seven Lakes Basin Loop Path Map
Planning Your Excessive Divide Path Backpacking Journey
When to Go
July to September is the most well-liked time for mountaineering the Excessive Divide/Seven Lakes Basin Loop.
We hiked in late September when the climate will be iffy with rain, however the fall colours had been well worth the danger.
Relying on the yr, snow may usually be discovered on the path till mid-July, plus the early season bugs will be brutal, so we don’t suggest mountaineering in Might or June.
A allow is required for spending the night time within the Seven Lakes Basin.
Listed here are a couple of suggestions for acquiring a Excessive Divide allow:
When you’re backpacking the Excessive Divide Path, observe these tenting guidelines:
Be sure to filter water previous to ingesting.
Nationwide Park Service-approved bear canisters are required for storing meals, rubbish & scented objects in Olympic Nationwide Park.
The Wilderness Info Heart in Port Angeles has a restricted variety of bear canisters you may borrow if wanted.
Bearfoot Principle Bear Canister Decide
Bear Vault 450
The BV450 is our best choice for the Excessive Divide Path as a result of it simply shops 1-3 days’ price of meals with out being too cumbersome. It’s additionally see-through so that you don’t must go digging for what you need and it’s NPS-Licensed.
The Excessive Divide Path and Seven Lakes Basin are designated Wilderness and we need to preserve them as pristine as doable.
Please observe these guidelines and suggestions when going #1 and #2:
Excessive Divide Path Packing Checklist
For a whole listing of what to pack on your Excessive Divide & Seven Lakes Basin Loop journey, head over to our 3-Day Backpacking Guidelines.
For moist climates just like the Pacific Northwest, you’ll need a couple of additional items of drugs to remain dry and comfy on the path, particularly should you hike in late September when air temps are cooler and the prospect of rain is larger.
The factor to recollect is that in wet, humid climates, gear doesn’t dry. So should you get soaked on day 1, you’re going to be moist all the journey.
This may be prevented by planning forward and packing a couple of additional items of drugs.
Listed here are a couple of objects particular to this route:
Backpacking Gear Guides
My Excessive Divide Path Backpacking Journey Report
I name this “Day 0” as a result of that is the day we drove 3 hours from Seattle to a campsite close to the trailhead, so we may rise up early the following day to begin the Excessive Divide Path.
When you go away tremendous early from Seattle, you could possibly skip tenting the night time earlier than.
We stopped for lunch at Crescent Lake, which is a good spot to stretch your legs.
After a cease on the Guests Heart the place we obtained the lay of the land, we continued on to the Salmon Cascades within the Sol Duc River, the place boisterous salmon launched themselves up and over waterfalls as they make their method to their spawning grounds.
With loads of daylight left, we reached our night time’s base camp the place we’d be automobile tenting and doing a gear examine earlier than an early night time to mattress.
Within the morning we packed up camp and drove up the highway to the Sol Duc Falls trailhead to start our 3D/2N Excessive Divide backpacking journey.
Our first full day on the path was spent largely within the rainforest, with a purpose of roughly 7 miles and a couple of,000 ft. of elevation achieve.
There have been big ferns, moss-covered timber, and the sound of the Sol Duc River dashing under.
Slightly below a mile in, we took a brief detour to Sol Duc Falls, which for most people visiting the Park, is a vacation spot in itself.
Many of the path this present day was a gradual incline. We crossed the river a couple of occasions on actually cool log bridges, finally reaching a collection of switchbacks that dropped us off proper at our first Group Camp.
In Olympic Nationwide Park, the entire campsites on the Excessive Divide Path are permitted, so it’s essential to keep at your designated campground.
On the Group Campgrounds, we had house to unfold out and, get this…. a clear bathroom for doing our #2 enterprise. I’ve to say, not having to dig a gap was a complete luxurious by our requirements.
We had been additionally subsequent to a close-by meadow that obtained stunning afternoon solar, which allowed us to dry off any gear that was damp from the night time earlier than.
This was everybody’s favourite day on the path. After breakfast and packing up camp, we kicked off mountaineering at 9:30.
We had a bit extra climbing to do to achieve the Excessive Divide Path and shortly we transitioned out of the forest to above the treeline.
Our hike befell in late September and I wasn’t positive what sort of fall colours we’d see on the path.
On the primary day within the rainforest, it was all inexperienced. However as we began to realize elevation and transition to alpine vegetation, the shorter crops and understory exploded in crimson, orange, and yellow, making a vibrant and attention-grabbing panorama.
That is additionally the place we noticed our first two black bears.
We’d see two extra later within the day, simply selecting away at berries on the hillside. It was clear they’d completely little interest in us, which made our encounters a stand-out expertise from the journey.
After passing Coronary heart Lake, we made our ultimate push to the ridgeline, in any other case often called the Excessive Divide and the Seven Lakes Basin.
This was actually the second we had been ready for.
It was nonetheless dry however the clouds had been beginning to roll in and we weren’t positive whether or not we had been going to get these views of Mount Olympus that make the Excessive Divide such an iconic Pacific Northwest Hike.
As quickly as we obtained up on the Excessive Divide, Mount Olympus and a number of other glaciers got here to gentle sandwiched between clouds within the sky and low hangers that blanketed the Hoh Valley.
As we continued on, the views weren’t nearly Mount Olympus. On the north aspect of the ridge, we peered down into Seven Lakes Basin, a rocky bowl with seven colourful alpine lakes.
We spent a number of miles on the Excessive Divide with continuous views and simply as we turned again down in the direction of Sol Duc, the fog thickened. Our timing couldn’t have been extra excellent.
The magical fog clogged our views on the way in which all the way down to our Group Camp at Deer Lake, however the fall colours made up for it.
That night, we had a much-needed stretch session, chowed down on a tasty home made pasta, and sat round and informed tales with sizzling drinks till the rain began to fall.
It rained all night time, however it wouldn’t be a correct Pacific Northwest backpacking journey with no little bit of rain.
Fortunately we had been all ready with the best backpacking gear. We additionally all lined our backpacks with trash baggage for additional waterproof safety.
Breakfast and occasional had been fast, then we donned our rain gear and hit the path.
Like Day 1, we had been again within the rainforest, however in the present day we had a simple 4 miles again to the car parking zone.
Regardless of the rain, we nonetheless had a blast on the path.
We revisited Sol Duc Falls one final time as we approached the car parking zone for one final group picture earlier than celebrating on the trailhead.
As soon as we had been again within the van, we head over to Sol Duc Scorching Springs for warm showers.
For many who had been hopping on a aircraft that night time, it was a welcome alternative to scrub up. Simply ensure that to convey a clear, dry pair of garments and any toiletries.
We had one final picnic lunch earlier than making the three-hour drive again to Seattle.
And that’s our information to backpacking the Excessive Divide Path & Seven Lakes Basin Loop in Olympic Nationwide Park!
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Have you ever hiked the Excessive Divide Path or Seven Lakes Basin Loop in Washington? Is it in your bucket listing? What questions do you continue to have? Go away a remark under!