High Divide Loop, Sol Duc Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
High Divide Loop - 18.1 Miles
Sol Duc Trailhead
High Divide Loop
|Round-Trip Length:||18.1 Miles ((add 1.2 miles for Lunch Lake, and 2.4 miles for Hoh Lake))|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,882' - 5,377' (max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+3,495' net elevation gain (+4,238' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The Seven Lakes Basin - High Divide Loop runs over 18 miles through the heart of Olympic National Park's old growth forests and alpine lake country.
This spectacular and commensurately popular backpacking route provides access to a lofty collection of lakes, tarns and meadows that feed the Bogachiel, Hoh, and Sul Duc river valleys below.
Visitors will enjoy epic views, diverse ecology, and rich wildlife on the loop.
Reservations are required for camping in the Seven Lakes Basin. Visit the Olympic Wilderness Information Center for permits and the latest trail information before setting out:
The trail runs level past Sol Duc Falls (.8 miles : 1,927') to Lovers Lane (.9 miles), where the Deer Lake Trail branches south and begins a steep, rugged climb with little reprieve to Deer Lake (3.4 miles : 3,527').
Deer Lake occupies a wooded basin in the transition zone from montane to subalpine forest. The trail leads around its east shore to a split for Little Divide and High Divide (3.8 miles : 3,526').
Follow the High Divide sign left to a marshy pond and resume steady climbing in a thick subalpine forest.
The trail emerges from timber at a pond (4.9 miles : 4,115'), and weaves by another into an expanding meadowland laced with streams and wildflowers.
Grades moderate as you wind through an airy landscape with nice views and a good chance to see deer, bear, and grouse on open grassy slopes.
The trail levels through patches of fir on a ridge, then rolls over to the south side overlooking the upper Bogachiel River Valley (6.15 miles : 4,755').
It curls east and rises up a narrow path etched into high, vertigo inducing-slopes (6.5 miles : 4,750').
The trail negotiates a rocky bowl to the Lunch Lake Trail split (7.05 miles : 4,862'), where you'll bear right toward Hoh Lake and High Divide.
It rises steadily across improbably steep slopes that hold one of the most prolific wildflower collections you'll find on this loop.
The trail rolls briefly to the north side of a ridge with panoramas over the Seven Lakes Basin (7.65 miles : 5,280'), then back to the south side at the Hoh Lake - High Divide split (7.95 miles : 5,240').
The split is located right below Bogachiel Peak on a divisive pass between the Bogachiel and Hoh river valleys.
From this point you'll enjoy remarkable views of each, but particularly across the Hoh with a Mt Olympus and Bailey Range backdrop. The High Divide Trail turns east with access to Bogachiel Peak just steps away.
It rolls on - steeply at times - for the next two miles atop a lofty ridge between the 7 Lakes Basin (north), and Hoh River Valley (south). Mt Olympus, the Baileys, and myriad lakes in the basin are in sight during this time.
Wildlife is common, particularly bear and goat. Grassy slopes are blanketed in summer wildflowers and autumn berries, while lengthier snow coverage in some areas forms a barren rock-soil landscape.
At 9.5 miles (5,277') the trail reaches one final crest on the rim of the basin, then drops quickly out and down to the Heart Lake - Cat Basin split (9.95 miles : 5,042').
From this point on you'll nary take another uphill step; if you do, it might be welcome.
The trail drops through a sprawling alpine basin to Heart Lake (10.3 miles : 4,744'), one of the most spacious and moderate sections on the entire loop.
It crosses the outlet and begins a steady descent into a yawning valley frequented by elk. The forest progressively thickens to Sol Duc Park (11.1 miles : 4,135'), a nice campsite along Bridge Creek.
A fast, rugged, twisting descent through stately fir leads to 7 Mile Bridge (12.55 miles : 3,368'), which spans a voluminous chute on the upper Sol Duc River.
The trail bends northwest along the river and drops with less rigor to the Appleton Pass Trail split (13.25 miles : 3,082'), where subalpine forests yield to some of the largest old growth fir and hemlock found in Olympic.
And while your camera may receive a break on this section, your knees will not. A rocky, rooted path continues for several miles, moderating only as you near the end of the loop (17.3 miles : 1,936'). Retrace your steps back to the Sol Duc Trailhead (18.1 miles : 1,882').
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N47 57.290 W123 50.100 — 0.0 miles : Sol Duc Trailhead
- N47 56.677 W123 49.401 — 1.8 miles : Canyon Creek Bridge
- N47 55.684 W123 49.455 — 3.4 miles : Deer Lake outlet bridge
- N47 55.546 W123 49.355 — 3.8 miles : Trail split for High Divide
- N47 55.065 W123 49.141 — 4.7 miles : Ponds on edge of open meadowlands
- N47 54.677 W123 48.558 — 5.9 miles : Travel levels on thinly treed ridge
- N47 54.829 W123 48.069 — 6.5 miles : Steep slope travel over Bogachiel Valley
- N47 54.715 W123 47.383 — 7.05 miles : High Divide - Lunch Lake split
- N47 54.261 W123 46.702 — 7.95 miles : Hoh Lake Trail split
- N47 54.304 W123 46.511 — 8.12 miles : Spur to Bogachiel Peak
- N47 54.380 W123 45.658 — 8.85 miles : Campsites
- N47 54.447 W123 44.889 — 9.5 miles : Begin descent to Heart Lake split
- N47 54.467 W123 44.290 — 9.95 miles : Heart Lake split
- N47 54.650 W123 43.985 — 10.3 miles : Heart Lake
- N47 55.172 W123 43.732 — 11.1 miles : Sol Duc Park
- N47 55.463 W123 44.072 — 12.55 miles : Cross 7 Mile Bridge
- N47 55.944 W123 45.032 — 13.25 miles : Appleton Pass Trail split
- N47 56.097 W123 46.305 — Waterfall
- N47 56.779 W123 47.559 — Sol Duc Campsite #1
- N47 57.127 W123 49.267 — 17.3 miles : Complete Loop
- N47 57.299 W123 50.104 — 18.1 miles : Sol Duc Trailhead
- Designated campsites and lakes within the basin see heavy traffic, and many unintended social trails have formed between them. Support re-vegetation efforts by staying on designated paths.
- Habituated mountain goats live in this area. Goats are drawn to salts found in human waste and sweaty clothes. Maintain a respectful distance, and follow guidelines for disposing waste.
- Lingering snow on steep, narrow sections may be tricky (if not technical) well into summer. Ice ax and self-arrest skills may be necessary when covered. Consult the WIC for the latest trail information.
- Campsites, particularly between Lunch Lake and Heart Lake, fill very quickly during peak season and may be difficult to reserve. Date and itinerary flexibility is the best way to ensure desired locations. Consider traveling clockwise, and staying one night in one of the Sol Duc River sites. These sites are located in gorgeous old growth forests, are very private, and allow fires.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin area. 50% of sites can be reserved in advance. The other 50% is available first come, first served from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
- Permits for quota areas must be picked up at the WIC, or a staffed ranger station during business hours.
- There's a $5 registration fee per group, plus $2 per person per night (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit in advance.
- Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance.
- Camping is permitted only in designated sites within quota areas. Deviation from your permit itinerary is not allowed, except in emergencies.
- Campsites are not individually assigned, and available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis. Groups of 7-12 people must camp in designated group sites.
- Campfires are not permitted above 3,500'. Restrictions include (but are not limited to) Deer Lake, Lunch Lake, Hoh Lake, High Divide, Heart Lake, and Sol Duc Park.
- Food Storage: All food and scented items must be secured 24 hours a day. Park-approved bear canisters are required in the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
- Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
- The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $15 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($30 annual pass).
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
The Sol Duc Trailhead is located 40.2 miles from Port Angeles at the end of Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.
From Port Angeles, head west on US 101 approximately 28 miles to Sol Duc Hot Springs Road (marked by large NPS sign along highway). Continue 12.2 miles to the trailhead.
Sol Duc Hot Springs Road is closed seasonally due to weather. Call ahead for road conditions and accessibility.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: 866.476.5382
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Quinault Wilderness Information Office