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This trail begins in the National Forest east of Olympic National Park and leads 23 miles southwestward into the remote eastern Olympic Mountains.

This trail follows the Gray Wolf River 15.5 miles from the Buckhorn Wilderness to the the rivers headwaters. It then climbs out of the drainage over Gray Wolf Pass and into the Dosewallips River valley. The track leads through forest lowlands along the river floor then rises through Montane forests to subalpine terrain at the high point of the trail on Gray Wolf Pass. This track may be used in conjunction with several other trails in the area to form a long backpacking trip through the remote, eastern Olympics.

Begin this hike from the trailhead on Forest Road 2870 immediately north of the bridge crossing the Gray Wolf River. The trail follows the northern bank of the river through the Olympic National Forest. It leads high above the river and enters a clear cut area eventually reaching a trail junction two miles from the trailhead. By the time you reach the camp at Two Mile the trail has entered the Buckhorn Wilderness. This large wilderness area was created as a buffer area east of the National Park lands.

The trail climbs and descends slightly along the river. Nearly four miles from the trailhead is Cliff Camp. This site consists of several tent sites immediately northeast of a narrow part of the river. Beyond the camp the trail follows the river through a gorge and past a series of small rapids. In a mile the trail crosses the Gray Wolf River and ascends above its eastern bank. The track is soon joined by the Slab Camp Creek Trail. A short distance beyond the bridge is Camp Tony on the eastern side of the river.

Beyond Camp Tony the trail ascends the eastern valley wall rising above the narrow gorge of the Gray Wolf. After climbing for two and a half miles the trail reaches 2,300 feet then descends to Slide Creek. The track crosses the creek and traverses the northern base of Baldy. Along this traverse it enters the eastern Olympic National Park Boundary approximately eight miles from the trailhead. One mile west of the park boundary the trail crosses a stream flowing down the northern side of Baldy. Beyond the stream it ascends nearly 200 feet then descends nearly 500 feet to the junction of Cameron Creek Trail.

This junction lies ten miles west of the Gray Wolf Trailhead. Gray Wolf Camp lies along the trail that leads right. Beyond the camp is Cameron Creek Trail and Three Forks Trail and camp. To follow the Gray Wolf Trail turn left and begin hiking southward along the narrow river bed. One mile from the trail junction the Gray Wolf Trail crosses Gray Wolf River on a natural log bridge. From this point the trail leads southward along the western bank of the river gaining elevation steadily.

Nearly three miles from the Gray Wolf Camp the trail reaches Camp Ellis. This camp lies on the western bank of Gray Wolf River at an elevation of 3,115 feet. Gray Wolf Ridge lies across the drainage from this site and glimpses of it may be had in sparsely forested areas along the trail.

Continuing along the drainage the trail leaves the stream side briefly to avoid a steep gorge. It rises along the steep hillsides of the drainage several of which have been devastated by avalanches. Along these slopes of young trees views of Gray Wolf Ridge and The Needles are visible. After two miles above the stream level the track leads down to the river. Hikers will come upon Falls Camp almost three miles from Ellis Camp.

At Falls Camp the trail to Cedar Lake continues southwestward along the drainage. The lake lies two miles from the camp and makes a good morning hike before putting on your pack. This trail is primitive so some route finding may be necessary. The lake lies at approximately 5,330 feet.

Gray Wolf River Trail turns southeastward at this junction, following the headwaters of the Gray Wolf toward The Needles. It continues to climb steadily and crosses the stream approximately one mile from Falls Camp. The terrain at this point consists of subalpine forest with brief openings that provide views of the surrounding peaks.

After a short walk on the eastern side of the drainage the trail crosses the stream again. On the western side of the Gray Wolf headwaters the trail gradient lessens as it crosses through subalpine forests opening into meadowlands. The trail reaches Gray Wolf Pass after winding upward for two miles from the last stream crossing.

The pass lies at approximately 6,150 feet between Mt. Deception, to the east, and Mt. Cameron, to the west. The terrain on the pass consists of rugged talus and may have lingering snow fields throughout the summer. From the pass the views are spectacular. Lofty peaks rise all around it and the Gray Wolf and Main Fork Dosewallips drainages are visible.

On the southern side of Gray Wolf Pass the trail descends steeply down rocky slopes. The views continue for the first two miles of the descent before the trail reaches the dense montane forest. The elevation of this point is 4,760 feet. The switchbacks continue for another mile before the track makes a long westward traverse of the northern Dosewallips Valley. Nearly three and a half miles from Gray Wolf Pass the trail reaches the Main Fork Dosewallips River Trail between Deception Creek and Bear Camp.

Directions: From Sequim, Drive east on Highway 101 to Palo Alto Road, which leads into the foothills of the northeastern Olympics. The road ends after 7.5 miles, where it meets Forest Road 2880 and 28. Turn right at this junction and follow Forest Road 2880 2 miles to Forest Road 2870. Turn right and follow this road .5 miles to a bridge across the Graywolf River. Park at the trailhead immediately north of the bridge.

Elevation: 950 feet

Ending Elevation: 3,610 feet

Usage: Moderate

Difficulty: Moderate

 
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Olympic National Park, Washington


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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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