Appleton Pass Ridges

Appleton Pass Ridges: 5,750 ft.Elevation gain: 3,750 ft. from the Sol Duc trailhead at 1,950 ft. Distance: 16 miles. Time: 6-7 hrs. 40 % alpine. Rating 4+

Appleton Pass and south ridges from the north ridge.

Appleton Pass and south ridges from the north ridge.

Overview: Yes, I know, this is not listed as a peak. But the ridges north and south of Appleton Pass have plenty of unnamed peaks to explore. The variety of choices makes this a choice spot. It is a fun hike up the Sol Duc River, then to Appleton pass and a walk up to a peak 1 mile southeast from the pass or a scramble up steeper ridge peaks north of the pass. So once at the pass you will have choices for short peaks, all of which provide excellent views.

Getting to The Trailhead:The trail begins at the Sol Duc trailhead at the end of the Sol Duc River road. The Sol Duc River road is a left turn 30 miles west of Port Angeles and 2 miles west of Lake Crescent off Hwy 101. The trailhead is 16 paved miles from the turnoff.

The Trail:From the trailhead, which has plenty of parking and a bathroom, it is .8 mile to powerful Sol Duc falls. Just before you get to the falls take the trail which goes left at the shelter. The sign says seven lakes basin loop. Follow the trail though beautiful lowland forests beside the Sol Duc River for 4.1 miles to the turn off to Appleton Pass. Straight ahead are Sol Duc Park and the high divide. Turn left to Appleton Pass and walk the 2.5 miles to the pass. The last mile provides excellent views of the high divide, Olympus, Haigs Lake and the mountains surrounding the lake. At the pass the views get even better, particularly of Mt Carrie, Cat peak and the Bailey Range.

The Peaks:At the pass you have two choices to get higher. Following the ridge South and East past Oyster Lake you can walk out on a peak at 5,450 ft. It is a mellow walk through alpine meadows and sweeping views. Or if you want to go steeper turn north (left) just before the pass and scramble up the peaked ridge toward peak 6100. The rocky ridge, partially covered with alpine firs, is a series of 4 peaks, each higher than the last, each a scramble and culminating in peak 6100, the highest. I do not recommend climbing peak 6100 from this route. It is much more difficult than the route described elsewhere in the peak 6100 description. The third peak on the ridge is a worthy destination at 5, 750 ft. I recommed stopping there.

This same hike can be done from the Olympic Hot Springs trailhead and can easily be a point to point hike if a vehicle is left at both trailheads. And if you are up for a long loop hike, take the historic way trail traverse from Appleton Pass south over to Cat Basin, then back to where the Cat Basin trail intersects the High Divide trail near Heart Lake, then back down the Sol Duc trail to the trailhead. It’s a 22 mile loop through great country. When we did the loop it took 13 hours total and we saw 5 bears on the trip. The 4 mile section from Appleton Pass to Cat Basin is the slowest section. Allow about 4 hours for that leg.

The diversity of choices from Appleton Pass makes it one of the premier spots in the Olympics.