Trail Conditions

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Trail Conditions

We were not so lucky with weather on the Sol Duc Trail in Olympic National Park. Our main objectives were hiking into the subalpine, practicing wilderness navigation, and surveying the Bailey Range Traverse for future trips. We completed our first and second objectives. Due to a stubborn low ceiling, we did not get to see much of the high terrain that we were anticipating.

Weather: Day 1, overcast, light rain, calm. Day 2, overcast, no precipitation, light southwesterly. Day 3, broken, no precipitation, light westerly. High temperature 68ºF (20ºC). Low temperature 34ºF (1ºC). Pressure steady 30.15 inHg (1021 hPa).

Route: Day 1, Sol Duc Trailhead, 1970 ft (600 m) GR 376116 to Sol Duc Park, 4190 ft (1277 m) GR 455076. Day 2, Sol Duc Park to Heart Lake, 4790 ft (1460 m) GR 452066, then south onto the High Divide, 5072 ft (1545 m) GR 448063, then east towards our turnaround above the Bailey Range Way Trail, 4862 ft (1481 m) GR 463062, and returned to Sol Duc Park. Day 3, Sol Duc Park to Sol Duc Trailhead. (WGS84)

Wildlife: Viewing was limited to Pacific wrens, robins, and a diving duck with seven babies. We heard varied thrushes, hermit thrushes, and a northern flicker. We only saw one wild mammal in three days, a mule deer grazing just below Sol Duc Park on our egress. This area sees a lot of hiker traffic and mega fauna seemed to be off in other zones. We did see a pack of llamas which seemed out of place!

Hazards: Lots of snow in the subalpine bowls above Heart Lake, 4790 ft (1460 m) GR 452066 and west along the High Divide. The steeper sections would be a challenge when frozen without stiff footwear. We were happy to have alpine hiking boots and soft snow underfoot gaining the ridge. We also opted east along the High Divide where the ridge top trail was mostly dirt. Westbound High Divide hikers in trail shoes were slipping and sliding along the ridge.

Notes: We were handed the low visibility, moist, and cool weather card on this trip. The snow line had been retreating rapidly during the weeks leading up to our visit, opening up many campsites in the Upper Sol Duc. However an onshore Pacific flow, brought cloudy skies, light precipitation, and very cool nighttime temps. Heat Factory hand warmers were appreciated!

Wilderness Camping Permits are required for all overnight stays in the ONP wilderness (backcountry) year-round. Obtain permits at the WIC in Port Angeles. We stayed in a quota area where 50% are reservable and 50% are available FCFS up to 24 hours in advance of your start date.

We staged our trip from Victoria, catching the first Coho sailing to Port Angeles at 0610. 1 h 30 min, 22.59 NM (42 km), journey aboard the Coho, then a 5 min, 1.8 mi (2.9 km), drive to the WIC to pickup our permits, and then a 1 h 14 min, 42.7 mi (68.7 km) drive to the Sol Duc Trailhead. There's lots more to see up there and we'll be back for further exploring!

Mike Blake

On The Map

These observations and opinions are those of the person who submitted them. The ACMG and its members take no responsibility for errors, omissions, or lapses in continuity. Conditions differ greatly over time and space due to the variable nature of mountain weather and terrain. Application of this information provides no guarantee of increased safety. Do not use the Mountain Conditions Report as the sole factor in planning trips or making decisions in the field.