Guided Backpacking in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is legendary among backpackers, offering some of the most beautiful mountains, rainforests, rivers, valleys, and coastline in the country, coupled with an extensive network of trails. There is everything from popular scenic loops such as Seven Lakes Basin, to rugged off-trail routes like the Bailey Range Traverse.
There are many great backpacking trips in the range that can be tailored to a group’s goals and ambitions. Below is a sampling:
Seven Lakes Basin (High Divide Loop): One of the most popular outings in the park, this 19 mile loop explores alpine lakes and meadows, originating from Sol Duc Hotsprings. Difficulty: Moderate / Time: 2-3 days
Royal Basin: Beautiful alpine basin surrounded by towering peaks, including Mt. Deception, the second highest in the range, and The Needles. Difficulty: Moderate / Time: 2-4 days
Grand Valley/Cameron Pass: High alpine terrain accessed by the Obstruction Point Rd. The Grand Valley is a great quick overnight trip, while Cameron Pass at 6,400′ is the highest elevation pass in the range. Difficulty: Easy-Moderate / Time: 2-4 days
Anderson Pass: An excellent traverse offering the opportunity to explore the Anderson Glacier, via the Enchanted Valley and the Dosewallips. Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous / Time: 4-6 days
Press Expedition Traverse: A 44.5 mile north to south traverse retracing the 1889-90 Press Expedition. This route originally took 6 months, but thanks to well maintained trails it can now be completed comfortably in 4-6 days. Difficulty: Strenuous / Time: 4-6 days
Olympic Coast Backpacking: Many beautiful coastal routes including the 3 day Wildcatter Coast trip. Difficulty: Easy-Moderate / Time: 2-4 days
Varies based on trip. Backpacking trips can range from simple overnight excursions, to extended 9+ day expeditions deep into the range.
In addition to the items on this list, participants will be given a portion of the group equipment to carry.
PACKS & BAGS
☐ Backpack: 50-75 liter internal frame pack.
☐ Sleeping bag: Rated between 20° and 30°, down or synthetic. Keep in mind that manufacturer’s temperature ratings are subjective and serve as guidelines. RENT
☐ Compression stuff sack: Sized appropriately to your bag.
☐ Sleeping pad: Inflatable or closed cell foam (ex: Thermarest Prolite).
Hiking on the coast with an overnight pack requires a supportive hiking boot.
☐ Hiking boots: With good ankle support (ex: La Sportiva Garnet GTX).
☐ Sandals (optional but recommended): For around camp. Should be as lightweight as possible.
☐ Socks: 1-2 pairs (wool or synthetic) that work well with your boots. Keep in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not necessarily heavy socks. If your boots are roomy choose a heavier sock, if they’re snug choose a lighter sock.
☐ Light glove
☐ Medium glove (early season): Should be wind and water-resistant, think ski glove.
There are many possible layering combinations for your upper body. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: First Ascent Midweight 1/4-Zip Baselayer or First Ascent Solarfoil Hoodie).
☐ Lightweight insulating layer: Light fleece or synthetic layer (ex: First Ascent Sandstone Hoodie, Hangfire Hoodie).
☐ Hardshell jacket with hood: Lightweight and waterproof (ex: First Ascent BC-200 Jacket).
☐ Synthetic or down insulated jacket: Synthetic or down (ex: First Ascent Ignitor Jacket).
☐ Trekking pant: Lightweight synthetic fabric. Convertible pants with zip off legs are optional (ex: First Ascent Guide Pants).
☐ Shorts (optional): Lightweight synthetic fabric (ex: First Ascent Guide Shorts)
☐ Hardshell pant: For adverse weather (ex: First Ascent Rainier Storm Shell Pants).
☐ (2) Heavy trash bags: Cheap lightweight waterproof lining for your backpack.
☐ Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui).
☐ Lip balm: With SPF protection.
☐ Insect repellent: Avoid DEET (ex: Natrapel).
☐ Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ Water purification tablets: Regular iodine tends to work best (ex: Potable Aqua); chlorine dioxide tablets are less practical.
☐ Compact camera
☐ Extra batteries: For your headlamp, camera, etc.
☐ Headlamp: LED headlamp recommended (ex: Petzl Tikka XP2 or Tikka Plus). RENT
☐ See Details.
☐ Insulated mug
☐ Spoon or spork
PERSONAL FIRST AID/TOILETRIES
Guides will carry a well-equipped group first aid kit.
☐ Personal toiletry kit: Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and/or baby wipes, gender specific items, small bottle of hand sanitizer.
☐ Personal first aid kit: Band-Aids, blister repair, anti-diarrheal (Immodium), antacid, ibuprofen or aspirin, as well as any personal prescription medications (be sure to discuss these with us).
☐ Trekking Poles: Ski poles or trekking poles with powder baskets (ex: Black Diamond Traverse). RENT
☐ Book (lightweight)
☐ Journal w/pencil
☐ Ear plugs
We will provide all necessary group equipment for you trip such as tents, stoves, ropes, and rescue gear.
- No previous backpacking experience is required.
- Some previous hiking experience is recommended.
- Varies depending on trip. In general, the better shape you’re in, the more you’ll enjoy the experience.
- Guiding and instruction
- Group equipment: tents, stoves, fuel
- Permit costs
- Lodging and transportation before and after the trip
- Personal equipment and food*
- Park entrance fees (free with a park pass)
*provided for an additional fee.
Lunch Food: In the mountains, “lunch starts after breakfast and ends before dinner”. In other words, on a given day we generally won’t stop for a formal lunch break, and instead we’ll snack all day long. This is vital to maintaining high energy levels in this environment.
Be sure to bring foods that you like and emphasize variety. Energy bars and gels are great but in limited amounts – real food works just as well and tastes better.
Breakfasts & Dinners: Bring meals that can be cooked with just boiling water. Examples include freeze-dried pouches (Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry), ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, etc. The stoves we use are very efficient for heating water but are not suitable for actual preparation.
WHERE TO MEET
From Port Angeles/Forks (Hwy 101 West, South): From Port Angeles head west on Hwy 101 to the town of Forks. Continue south past Forks for 15 miles (101 South), and turn right on Oil City road (turnoff is 1.3 miles south of the Upper Hoh Road junction). The road ends at the trailhead in 10.6 miles (paved for the first half).
From Aberdeen (Hwy 101 North): From Aberdeen, head north on Hwy 101 for approximately 92 miles. Turn left on Oil City road, (turnoff is 1.3 miles south of the Upper Hoh Road junction). The road ends at the trailhead in 10.6 miles (paved for the first half).
Option A: Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From here the drive to the Oil City Trailhead takes about 4 hours.
Option B: Fly into Port Angeles. Kenmore Air flies daily from Sea-Tac and is an Alaska Airlines partner (domestic flights can be booked with Port Angeles as the destination). From Port Angeles it’s a 1.5 hour drive to the Oil City Trailhead.
There’s also a Budget Rent-A-Car in Port Angeles.
Forks is an hour away from the trailhead.
Weather: Coastal Weather Forecast
Olympic National Park, WA
5:1 ratio (6:1 max)
Custom, email us or give us a call at (888) 674-8492
Cost Per Day
1:1 – $275
2:1 – $160/person
3:1 – $140/person
4:1 – $125/person
1:1 – $550
2:1 – $320/person
3:1 – $280/person
4:1 – $250/person
1:1 – $1100
2:1 – $640/person
3:1 – $560/person
4:1 – $500/person
1:1 – $1650
2:1 – $960/person
3:1 – $840/person
4:1 – $750/person
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