Elwha River Trail to North Fork Quinault


WillhiteWeb.com - Olympic Mountains Hiking

Olympic Mountains
These are pictures of a Boy Scout trip across the Olympic Mountains that I did as a teenager. The easiest way to cross the entire mountain range is to hike the Elwha Valley, over Low Divide, and down the Quinault River. This is how the first expedition crossed the Olympics in 1889, dubbed the Press Expedition since they were funded by the Seattle Press newspaper. Although the forests of the valley bottoms and endless creek crossings are beautiful, there is little more to see on this trek. Knowing the history of the area helps as many historic homesteads are passed in the Elwha. Reading a book about the press expedition along the way is also fun. The highlight is crossing over Low Divide. There you pass Lake Margaret and Lake Mary with distant views of majestic peaks looming above. To spice things up and get a few good views in, we climbed the slopes above Low Divide to an un-named peak labeled Point 5,666. On top we were treated to views of Mt. Seattle and Mt. Christie, two of the most remote Olympic peaks.
Distance: 44 miles
Highest Trail Elevation: 3,602 feet at Low Divide
Access: Good dirt roads
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Looking down on Lake Mary and Lake Margaret on Low Divide
Trail split west of the Low Divide Ranger Station
low divide climb
Our scout troop
Trailhead sign
Views thanks to an old burn area in Elwha Valley before Lillian Camp
Views from the occasional open area (east from Camp Wilder area)
Elkhorn Ranger Station
Elwha valley trail
One of many bridge crossings
The un-named peak we climbed...started from this meadow
Fording the North Fork Quinault River
Map showing route from Low Divide to Point 5,666
Left: Map showing the entire 44 mile route across Low Divide
Left to Right
Brigham Graff
Bro Paul
Jason Mitchell
Neal Graff
Eric Willhite
Kevin Willhite
James Paul
Jeff Davis
Mike Gregory
Brad Whimpey
Larry Willhite
View south from Bear Camp at Low Divide
Press Valley
Lake Margaret & Mt. Seattle
Mt. Seattle
Tarn & Mt. Seattle
Press Valley
Mt. Christie
Mt. Christie from peak 5,666
Quinault River Valley
Looking down the North Fork Quinault River Valley, our route home