Bogachiel Mt., High Divide, Seven Lakes Basin Loop: 5,474 ft.Elevation gain: 4,000 ft. Distance: 19 mi. Time: 9-11 hrs. 60% alpine. Trailhead 1,900 ft. Enjoyment rating: 5+
Overview:This is the best day hike in the Olympics. It has everything: Lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls, peaks, alpine meadows, expansive views, wild flowers and wild animals. Bears are often seen around the lakes or on the berry covered hillsides. Mountain goats are usually seen near the trail, looking for salt. Elk herds are occasionally spotted at the head waters of the Sol Duc River. Olympic Marmots seem to be everywhere in the high meadows. The hike is long at 19 miles and the trail is rocky and rough for about 8 of those miles but the sights could fill many photo albums. Bogachiel Mt. is the half way point on the loop. The many close views of Mt. Olympus and the Bailey Range are spectacular.
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: The first .7 mi. leads you through old growth forest, to a log shelter, and a left turn if you want to begin the loop walking up the Sol Duc River. The sign here says “Seven Lakes Basin loop.” I prefer to do the loop the other way- to get more climbing out of the way early- so I continue on .1 mi to beautiful Sol Duc Falls, then another .2 mi. to the sign toward Deer Lake at 1 mile. Turn left. The trail begins climbing quickly to Canyon Creek Falls at 1.8 miles then on to stunning Deer Lake at 4 miles and 4,000 ft. elevation. From the back side of the lake, the trail continues up to Pot-Hole Meadows at 5 mi. and gains the ridge at 6 mi. and 4,730 ft. elevation. Looking back down the valley provides a new perspective on Deer Lake below. You then re-enter a short section of subalpine trees that are twisted and bent. Then suddenly, stretching before you, are 1.5 miles of gorgeous trail, curving around a large bowl and heading up to a saddle between two peaks. The mountain to the left of the saddle is Bogachiel Mt. Below you, right, is the Bogachiel River valley and headwaters of the Bogachiel River. At 7.4 miles you pass by the junction to Seven Lakes Basin going left at 4,900 ft. (Great camping area which drops down 400 ft to lakes.) Go straight and continue up to the saddle at 5,100 ft., where a trail junction sign points left to the High Divide trail and right to Hoh Lake trail. This saddle is the divide between the Hoh, the Sol Duc and Bogachiel Rivers. The full face of Mt. Olympus rises three thousand feet above you, while the Hoh River lies at the bottom of the valley three thousand feet below you.
Follow the High Divide trail for a quarter mile to a signed, spur trail going left up to Bogachiel Mt. at 8.2 miles. It is an easy 5-10 minute walk up to the top. The views on the peak are worth the extra walk. To the north are the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the mountains of Vancouver Island. Seven Lakes Basin and the Bogachiel River are below you. To the east is Mt Appleton. Southeast are Cat peak, Mt. Carrie and the rest of the Bailey Range. Mt Olympus and its blue glacier is south, with Mt. Tom and Hoh peak moving SW. West is Green Peak and far to the west sits the pacific ocean.
Continuing on the High Divide trail, the next two miles is ridge walking at its best: an up and down meander, through alpine meadows, with expansive views on either side. The many lakes of Seven Lakes Basin are on your left and Mt. Olympus and its glaciers on the right. Look for bears and mountain goats during this stretch. At 10.2 miles, turn left at the junction of the Cat Basin trail and the Sol Duc trail. Heart Lake is on your left and below you. The trail passes by Heart Lake, a great camping spot, and descends quickly down the Sol Duc River. Here, at its beginning, it is just a small stream flowing through huge meadows. At 11.4 mi. pass Sol Duc Park, another popular camping spot, then continue hiking down the river canyon. Cross over a foot log with railings, high above the Sol Duc, at 14 miles, then pass the junction, going right to Appleton Pass, at 14.5 mi. At 16.5 miles the trail finally levels off and winds through a fairy land of green and old growth forest until you reach the shelter near Sol Duc Falls at 18.3 miles. Go right, for the final .7 mile back to the trailhead.
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