Press Expedition Traverse Elwha to North Fork Quinault

Mount Carrie, Washington 98621

Press Expedition Traverse Elwha to North Fork Quinault

Press Expedition Traverse: Elwha to North Fork Quinault Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Hike across the Olympic Peninsula into the heart of the park, retracing the route of the famed 1889–90 Press Expedition, a group of hardy souls commissioned by the Seattle Press newspaper who became the first humans to cross the Olympic Mountains. The Press Party— with their four dogs, two mules, and 1500 pounds of gear—took six months to make the journey, but you should be able to comfortably traverse the Olympics in four to six days. Enjoy splendid river scenery, lush rain forest, historical cabins and relics, and perhaps a side trip or two to some hidden wonders."

Press Expedition Traverse: Elwha to North Fork Quinault Trip Reports

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Had a really amazing time Hiking this trail solo from 9/19/18 though 9/25/18 with a rest day at low divide.

Day 1 - Started at Madison Falls trail head with a 7 mile hike start on dirt roads due to the washout. A few more miles and camped at Humes Ranch. Bear wire was a bit difficult to find as it's across the meadow near the river bed back in the trees, so ignore the first few campsites if you hike through the meadow first.

Day 2 - Sunny hike to Elkhorn Camp - probably one of the nicest camps. Was able to use the 4 bunk shelter with another solo hiker, easy access to the river for water, and the bear wire is easy to see. Also saw a ranger using the Ranger hut there.

Day 3 - Crossed Hayes river (Hayes River ranger station was under renovation) and there was a large washout of the trail just after the bridge. Because it was dry it was straight forward to get around. Camped at Camp Wilder, and again was fortunate to be able to use the 2 bunk shelter there, so a second day without having to setup the tent. Bear wire was easy to find, just south west of the shelter - and a small stream on the other side for water.

Day 4 - It rained all day, and had two spots with difficult trail findings. One was just after crossing the Elwah River before Chicago Camp, there was a large blow down of trees that hid where the trail crossed a large stream via a 3-4 foot diameter log. The second spot was just after crossing the Elwha again after Chicago Camp as there was a "T" in the trail. Go right, as left was obviously an old trail or offshoot and after about 1/10th of a mile it's clear it's not the right way. Because of the rain and the fact that the trail team had not been through between Chicago Camp and Low Divide, there were many large tree falls to navigate under/over/around and a couple large streams/small waterfalls to cross on the way up to Low Divide. The lakes at Low Divide were beautiful, and there are two campgrounds, the first just after the lakes, and the second across the meadow near the Ranger Hut.

Day 5 - Took a rest day at Low Divide, spent all day drying out gear and ready in the meadow - amazing views.

Day 6 - Hiked down to Elip Creek campground. Trail was good, a few washout spots. Didn't bother to use the Trapper shelter (2 bunk) cause it's right on the trail and not super impressive, but would be great if it was dumping rain. Elip Creek bear wire was down, but the high wire was still up and someone had kindly left a rope. I added a carabiner to the rope for ease of hanging food stores, and left it for the next camper. Instead of Fording the river at 16 mile, I chose to take the short side trail 1/10 mile up the river to a large log that the trail team had prepped for those that didn't want to get wet. Ford at Elip Creek was easy (able to get across on rocks).

Day 7 - Easy hike (7 miles) out to North Fork Campground (car camping). A couple places where the trail had washed out and had to hike up and round, but nothing difficult.
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This trail is best tackled as a backpacking/hiking expedition which takes about 4-5 days depending on your speed. This has to be one of the most peaceful places in the country. The scenery is beautiful with deep green forests, creeks and rivers, and some stunning mountain vistas.

Press Expedition Traverse: Elwha to North Fork Quinault Photos

Trail Information

Mount Carrie
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
Green Trails Hurricane Ridge/Elwha North No. 133S
Local Maps

Trail Log