Seven Lakes Basin Loop – High Divide

Olympic National Park's Seven Lakes Basin Loop

Backpack Olympic NP’s Seven Lakes Basin Loop to explore the Sol Duc River and capture the beautiful views from the High Divide Trail.

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  21 miles
Trailhead(s):  Sol Duc Trailhead
Elevation Gain:  4,717’ (3,050′ w/o Side Trips)
Trail Type:  Loop
Dogs:  No
Difficulty:  Moderate
Permit Required?  Yes
Considerations: Approved Bear Canisters Required
Season:  Mid-July through September

Overview

Backpacking Olympic National Park’s Seven Lakes Basin Loop is an excellent way to experience the Park’s diversity.  Beginning along the Sol Duc River and climbing from the river to the High Divide, hikers will enjoy not only the rain forest aspects of the park but also its sub-alpine environment.

Sol Duc Trailhead to Sol Duc Falls

Beginning at the Sol Duc Trailhead, we hiked the very easy .8 miles to Sol Duc Falls.  Driving from Oregon, we wanted a place to camp for the first night of our backpacking trip and there is no better place to do that but right at the beginning of our loop.

At the falls, there is a campsite next to the area where day visitors view the falls, but there are also a few sites further back from the falls.  We took the last one, which is the best for some solitude.  A couple of day trippers did walk up the tributary near our site, but they presented no problem.

Sol Duc River Trail to Sol Duc Park

The next morning, we began our backpacking trip in earnest.  We hiked up Sol Duc River Trail to Sol Duc Park, where we camped our second, and last, night.  The hike was all forest with virtually no other scenery except a couple of spots where we could barely see the river.  It was not a rigorous hike, but we climbed the whole way.  Along the route to Sol Duc Park, we did see a lot of campsites.  If you choose to target one of these sites for camping, make sure to check with the Wilderness Information Center about which ones have water access.   Not all of them do.

Once we neared Sol Duc Park (where we camped) we got a couple of views, literally within a half mile of the camping area.  When we arrived Sol Duc Park we found 2 group sites and 4 individual sites.  We picked a site next to a small waterfall, which worked great for us because we use two one-person tents and could comfortably fit in the site.  Overall, it was a nice place to camp.

Sol Duc Park to Sol Duc Trailhead via The High Divide Trail

This, our final day, had all the views.  Beginning at Sol Duc Park and continuing on the Sol Duc River Trail, we began getting some really nice views. 

The first lake we arrived at was Heart Lake.  The lake is very small, but surrounded with beautiful scenery.  The are also some great camping spots which are worth targeting.  Unfortunately, our schedule required we complete the loop in two days, so camping at Heart Lake was impractical.  If you have the time to backpack this loop at a slower pace, I highly recommend you consider the campsites at Heart Lake.

Passing Heart Lake on the Sol Duc River Trail, the views continued as we reached the High Divide Trail.  This is the trail we used to finish the Seven Lakes Basin Loop.

The High Divide Trail is an excellent trail with outstanding views of lakes and distant mountains.  There are numerous opportunities for side hikes along the trail, including a well-marked side trail to Lunch Lake and Clear Lake where campsites are available.

Traveling on the High Divide Trail, there are a number of climbs and descents along the way.  We just settled in and enjoyed the hike, taking side trips and soaking in the beauty of the surrounding area. 

When we got within a mile or 2 of Deer Lake, the trail traveled back into the woods until we reached Deer Lake.  The lake is a small and somewhat bland.  There are no campsites at the lake, they are all back in the woods.  We thought about camping at one of the sites, but they were very boring so we decided not to waste our time hanging in a site for hours waiting for dinner and bed.  Instead we decided to go the extra 4.6 miles to the trailhead.  As a result, we hiked a little over 12 miles on this day.

Concluding Thoughts about the Seven Lakes Basin Loop

The Seven Lakes Basin Loop is a very popular backpack and is great for newer backpackers who want to take their time and gain exposure to the scenery and environments it offers.  It is also definitely worth the trip for experienced backpackers as well, but I think you will want to do the hike in two days like we did.  In particular, the High Divide Trail is one of the great trails in Olympic National Park and well worth hiking – if even for a quick overnighter.  Hike on!

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Additional Information (Click below to follow links.)

Seven Lakes Basin Loop Slideshow

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Gear We Use for Backpacking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for backpacking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

Mount Shasta Gateway Trail

Articles About Other Regional Outventures

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SAFETY DISCLAIMER:  The activities discussed in this website are outdoor activities and, as such, have inherent risks to which participants are exposed.  It is not the intent of this website, nor is it possible due to the variability of weather, terrain, equipment, and experience, to detail all of those risks.  The information contained in this site is informational, but not instructive nor exhaustive.  It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure he/she is in good health, fully prepared, and fully informed as to dangers before undertaking any of the activities discussed in this website and the user does so at his/her own risk.  The user understands that by using this website he/she acknowledges and accepts all risks associated with use of information from this website and participation in any particular activity addressed herein.  Please see “Terms of Use” for additional information.

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