The old Sol Duc Shelter

The High Divide!

in Olympic National Park

September 07/08 2003




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The High Divide Trail starts two miles above Soleduc Hot Springs, elevation 1,900’. This is an extremely popular hike, and permits and camping spots must be secured from the National Park Service in Port Angeles.

At one mile is the gorge of Soleduc Falls. This is also the junction of the Heart Lake Trail and site of one of the few remaining shelters that used to be a common sight in the Olympic National Forrest.

The trail ascends gently through old growth to Deer Lake, and then opens up to sub-alpine forests and beautiful meadows of blueberry patches. Above Deer Lake we saw a Black Bear browsing on the blueberries above the trail. We had fun watching him work his way through the berry patch. Doerte and I gave him plenty of room since we were never sure which way he was going. A short distance farther on we saw a second Black Bear, also working his way through the berry patch. Both bears were jet black, and had thick shiny winter coats on. They looked very healthy.

The Trail finally gains the ridgetop and begins the High Divide. The views are absolutely spectacular in all directions. Soon, a junction takes hikers into the Seven Lakes Basin. Beautiful tarns surrounded by lush alpine meadows. We met several folks who were doing the loop as a dayhike and other that were spending 4-5 days.

We stopped on the summit of Bogachiel Peak, 5,474’ and marveled at the view of Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier across the Hoh Valley, almost 5,000’ below. This is the classic view of Mount Olympus. There is a poster in the Washington Alpine Club Cabin dining room that shows this fantastic view. We had fun retracing our route up Mount Olympus from the year before.

Mount Olympus from the summit of Bogachiel Peak, 5,474’

This is the classic view of Mount Olympus. The Blue Glacier is easily seen.

We descended 1,000’ and a little over 1.5 miles to camp at Hoh Lake. One of the parties already there later told us that as I walked to our campsite a bear was also walking to the campsite from the other direction! Luckily, I got there first and the bear went to find some blueberries. I never even saw him! The view from camp was fantastic, our campsite looked at Hoh Lake one way, and the Hoh River and Mount Olympus the other way.

Almost everywhere in the Olympics hikers are required to hang their food on the Bear Wires or use the secure but heavy bear canisters. We kept the camp very clean. Nearby was a honeybee hive in a hollow tree. Reportedly, there are no native wild honeybees in North America, only escaped domestic bees brought over from Europe or Africa. In any event this was the first we have ever seen in the wild.

Bill Hooper reported that he and Judy were passed by a large herd of Elk on the trail above the lake. Doerte and I didn’t see any on this trip although we saw signs of Elk. As the day grew later we watched the clouds move in from the Pacific Ocean and gradually fill up the Hoh River Valley. There were showers overnight, but the weather cleared in the morning.

Over the High Divide and down to Hoh Lake in the middle of a berry patch. The fish were jumping but not biting.

Starting early, Doerte and I continued on the High Divide, eating blueberries and watching for bears, we enjoyed the views of Seven Lakes Basin below us. Finally, we recognized Heart Lake by it’s distinctive shape. As we started our descent to Heart Lake we passed the junction of the Cat Peak Trail and the start of the Bailey Range Traverse. This amazing off trail traverse would take a strong fast party almost a week to complete and summit many peaks. The route was first traveled by Billy Everett, in 1885, at the age of 16 years!

Doerte is heading to Heart Lake at the end of the High Divide Trail. The branch to the right is the Trail to Cat Peak.

From Heart Lake in heather and blueberry meadows, the trail descends to Sol Duc Park in groves of Hemlock and Silver Firs. After the Appleton Pass junction the trail flattens for four miles back to the Shelter and the main trail from Sol Duc Falls.

One of the most scenic trips ever! 21 Miles and 5.000’ gain over two days.

Heart Lake has some beautiful campsites!


The activities described in this web site are potentially dangerous. Canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountaineering involve unavoidable risks including the risk of serious bodily injury and death. All forms of wilderness recreation have a higher level of risk than most ordinary activities. The owner and publisher of this web site do not assume any responsibility or liability for your safety. Those who use this information, and those who venture onto mountainous terrain, do so at their own risk. Disclaimer

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