Backpacking is ideal in September, October and November. Although it may be a little rainy this time of year, with the right gear—rain gear, waterproof boots, lots of socks, layers, etc.—you are sure to have an incredible backpacking trip in Olympic National Park. The crowds have dissipated by October, so finding the permits you desire is simple and easy, and you may have the chance of complete solitude on the trail. Below are our four favorite trails for backpacking in autumn, they are beautiful year-round, but especially in the autumn—full of vibrant colors as the trees transition through the seasons.
1. HOH RIVER TRAIL
Backpacking through the Hoh Rainforest is idyllic in the autumn. The colors are spectacular and all of your senses will be heightened as you hike next to the Hoh River. There are many wilderness campsites
along the Hoh River, ranging in distance from 3 miles (Mt. Tom Creek) to 17.4 miles (Blue Glacier at Mount Olympus). The first 10 miles of the trail are relatively flat, gaining only about 350 feet over all 10 miles; but once you reach Olympus Ranger Station, the trail starts to gain serious elevation as it climbs up the side of Mount Olympus.
Let an experienced guide lead you up to Blue Glacier on a Hoh River Traverse
guided backpacking trip. With all the appropriate gear and delicious backcountry meals provided, you can rest easy knowing that you are in good hands, as your safety is the company’s main priority.
2. QUINAULT RIVER TRAIL
Backpacking along the Quinault River is absolutely enchanting. The relatively flat terrain is perfect for all levels of experience, including families, or first-time backpackers. You will be mesmerized by the clear, blue-green water of Quinault River, the moss-covered trees—straight out of a fairy tale, and the mystery of the old-growth forests. Great backpacking destinations along this route include O’Neill Creek, a 13.2 mile trip, and Enchanted Valley, a 26 mile trip. You can read all about this route on our trail guide
, or join a Enchanted Valley
guided backpacking trip.
3. ROYAL BASIN
Experience the solitude of autumn on an epic journey through Royal Basin. The colors of fall jump out against the surrounding greenery, and the big views along the trail are awe-inspiring. Start on the Upper Dungeness Trail, and after one mile, turn right at the junction for Royal Creek Trail. There are multiple wilderness camp areas
along the route, and even one along the banks of Royal Lake. Permits
are required and can be obtained at one of the Wilderness Information Centers
in the park.
4. ELWHA VALLEY TO LAKE QUINAULT
Retrace the footsteps of the historic Press Expedition
, a 44 mile traverse from Elwha Valley, just south of Port Angeles to the North Fork of the Quinault River, just north of Lake Quinault. In 1889, an expedition, sponsored by the Seattle Press, left Port Angeles in hopes of exploring the wilderness of the Olympic Wilderness. Six months later they arrived at Quinault Lake. Nowadays, it takes backpackers only four to five days to complete the same journey. The route takes you through ancient and mysterious old-growth forests, pristine alpine meadows and over deep river crossings. Let Wildland Trekking take you on a Historic Press Traverse
guided backpacking trip, where your local guide will share their knowledge about the historic expedition, in addition to the ecology and history of this diverse landscape.