Route: Wonderland Trail – Westside Section – Mowich Lake To Longmire (Plus Side Trips) Distance: 38.5 (Around 35 Miles On The Wonderland Trail) Days: 4 Longest Day: 11.3 Miles Campsites: Mowich Lake, Golden Lakes, Klapatche Park, Devils Dream
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Update (8-10-2014): Due to high temps and melting snow there has been reports on NWHikers that the Mowich Bridges may be out possibly adding a sketchy ford. Please always check trail conditions with a Backcountry Ranger before attempting any hike.
Dad and I were lucky once again this year and got a permit for the section of the Wonderland Trail that we wanted. Even better we got the camps we requested. We left a car down at Longmire and then Mom drove us up a couple of days later and dropped us off to camp at Mowich Lake so that we could get an early start on the first day of our hike.
My family and I went out for a short nature walk around the McLane Creek Nature Trail. We explored the main trail around the beaver pond and then checked out some of the shorter side trails.
The McLane Creek Nature Trail, which is located just outside Olympia, Washington circles around a beaver pond and along the McLane Creek. It is a very family friendly trail and offers a boardwalk over the most of the trail so you can keep out of the mud. Lots of birds call the pond home and if you are lucky you can see turtles and spawning salmon if you go in the fall.
Dad and I wanted one last hike to cap off a great year of hiking. The weather was amazing so we packed up the car and headed north around the Olympic Peninsula to hike the High Divide Trail.
When I was little my family hiked up to Deer Lake and then day hiked up to the High Divide but I had never done the loop before. It was time to change that.
At The Trailhead
We left the trailhead around 9 in the morning and made good time to Sol Duc Falls.
Sol Duc Falls
From the falls we headed up the Deer Lake Trail towards Deer Lake.
Deer Lake Trail
The 3 miles from Sol Duc Falls to Deer Lake are fairly step and rocky. However, about half way up to Deer Lake there is a tree with a butt. That sight helped us forget that we were climbing as we joked about it and before long we had made it to Deer Lake.
Deer Lake Trail
After eating lunch at Deer lake we continued the climb up to the High Divide. The trail is a fairly constant climb from the lake to the High Divide. But the Fall colors where vibrant so it was easy to keep our minds off the fact that we had climbed for nearly 8 miles.
Heading Out From Deer Lake
High Divide Trail And Fall Colors
After a few miles of climbing we got our first good look at the 7 Lakes Basin and Lunch Lake. I remember when I was a small kid both my brother and I brought our fishing poles up to Lunch Lake. The water was so clear and blue. Even though we did not catch any fish and I was only 7 years old it is still one of my clearest memories. It was really neat to see it again all these years later.
7 Lakes Basin Sign
After enjoying the view of Lunch Lake we continued our climb up towards the High Divide. Just before the top is a fork and we took the Hoh Lake Trail towards Hoh Lake to camp for the night.
Hoh Lake Trail
Hoh Lake is 1.2 miles from the Junction. We hiked around the edge of a ridge and then dropped down to the lake. Coming into the lake we saw a black bear on the other side of the ridge. We never got close enough to it to get good pictures, but we did take the opportunity to walk around the lake.
Hoh Lake also has a stunning view of Mount Olympus and as the sun started to set we were greeted with an alpine glow on the mountain.
After a long day of climbing we climbed into our tent and slept well.
The next morning we woke up and headed out back towards the High Divide. We had to hike the rest of the High Divide Loop today which would result in around 12 miles of Hiking. We took a few minutes once we left the lake to enjoy the view of the Hoh River and Mount Olympus then hiked backed up to the High Divide Trail seeing a bull elk along the way.
Ready To Leave Hoh Lake
Looking Towards The Hoh River And Mount Olympus
High Divide Trail Junction Sign
Once back on the High Divide trail we took a short detour to Bogachiel Peak and then worked our way across the High Divide towards Heart Lake. The entire way was full of Fall colors and a constant view of Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier.
7 Lakes Basin From Bogachiel Peak
Me On The High Divide Trail
Mount Olympus And Blue Glacier
We ate a quick lunch at Heart Lake and then hiked down to the Sol Duc River Trail and stayed on it all the way back to the trailhead.
Hiking Downhill Finally!
Back At The Trailhead!
This trip should be on anyone’s list who wants to spend some time in the Olympics. Especially in the fall.