High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop

HARD 84 reviews
#7 of 158 trails in

High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop is a 19 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Forks, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
19.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5,308 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

Most people choose to do this hike counterclockwise, but it can be done either way. Olympic National Park provides a limited number of permits for overnight campers. Reservations for trips between May 1 and September 30 are strongly advised and can be made by mail or fax beginning February 15. Half of the sites are reserved for walk-up requests made to the Wilderness Information Center. Bear canisters are required for this hike and can be rented from the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles.

backpacking
12 days ago

Couldn’t get any camping spots. Thought they were supposed to leave 50% of the sites for first come first serve but I guess they actually don’t do that??? Decided I wanted to photograph Heart lake and that I wasn’t to be stopped. So I turned this into a day hike. Definitely wouldn’t recommend. I did the hike counter-clockwise and it turned into a 23 mile, 3,500 ft elevation change, 13 hour beast. Heart lake and surrounding mountaintops made it worth I though. Being on the ridge line most of the time is a real treat!!!

hiking
12 days ago

Hiked the loop clockwise today in 7.5 hours. The middle was scenic and crowded. The first and final thirds were unremarkable. Maybe it’s better as an overnight?

backpacking
14 days ago

Spent three days backpacking the loop and for the most part, loved it. Most people do this loop counter-clockwise but we decided to do it clockwise to spread out the elevation gain. For the most part, it was great... but I think next time, I'd rather just get the elevation over and done with in the first 8 miles. Doing the loop clockwise spread it out over about 13 miles.

The first day was an easy 3ish miles to the Sol Duc River campsite #2. Didn't have any issues finding the site (all campsites are clearly labelled), we were right next to the river, and we didn't have any issues with mosquitoes or anything.

Day two was about 11 miles, from our campsite to Lunch Lake. There were A LOT of flies and mosquitoes once we were above 3,500 ft. We applied a generous amount of Deet to our skin and clothes and noticed that we weren't actually getting bitten, but the bugs were relentless. The lakes were especially bad, even with ThermaCell mosquito repellent.

On a side note, saw two bears at Heart Lake and another one at Lunch Lake. Plenty of people in the area though, so we didn't have any issues. The one upside to such a well-trafficked trail, you shouldn't have any issues with the wildlife! And when I say well-trafficked, I mean you'll meet ultra runners doing the entire loop in a day, day hikers doing parts of the loop, and plenty of other backpackers (especially if you stop at Heart Lake for lunch).

Another side note, there's pretty much no water on the High Divide between Lunch Lake and Heart Lake, so fill up before then!

Day three clocked in around 9.5 miles from where we were camping at Lunch Lake back to the trailhead. Most of the elevation gain was climbing back out of the Seven Lakes Basin and then it was pretty much all downhill from there! The trail is really rocky though, so watch your footing.

All in all, this was a great backpacking experience. Just wish there hadn't been so many flies and mosquitoes! If I'd known what we were in for, I'd probably have opted to camp somewhere on the Divide instead of next to one of the lakes.

22 days ago

Me and my wife backpacked this in mid July, first to Deer Lake, then Lunch Lake, then Heart Lake, then out. This trail lived up to it's reputation. It was amazing! Almost all up hill until we left Heart Lake and hiked out about 8 miles. Except for the mosquitoes, it was perfect. The view of Mt. Olympus, between Lunch Lake and Heart Lake was awesome. This is truly a classic hike that should be on everyone's bucket list.

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked this loop on 7/7 - 7/8. Going clock-wise with a long 1st day (15 miles) and camped at Dear Lake, out 2nd day. The trail still has snow at the peak of High Divide but footprints were simple to follow. The basin was still full of snow and all basin lakes were still frozen, which was kinda disappointing. If you plan to come for basin lakes' photos, maybe 2-3 more weeks will be much better.

hiking
2 months ago

This is an extremeley beautiful, but treacherous hike during this part of the year (Early June)

BEWARE:
Please come prepared with adequate winter equipment and gear. Also, bring appropriate camping materials to stay the night (or several) if you intend to do the full loop. Current conditions are icy and snow ridden. Snow levels are several feet deep starting from Deer Lake and increase progressively as you start to approach the High Divide. Most of the trail is hidden beneath the snow. Elevation gain is steep and high, so be sure to possess a fair amount of fitness before attempting this trail. Bring plenty of food and water.

Have an amazing time!

backpacking
2 months ago

Stunning views of Mt Olympus
Not to be missed!!

hiking
4 months ago

One of the coolest hikes I have ever done. If you do this loop as an overnight counter-clcokwise staying in the basin, there's a really cool unofficial but easy to follow trail leading from the east side of Lunch Lake past some other lakes back up to the ridge and if you jump off that trail you get epic views over Long Lake.

4 months ago

Great trail description in Olympic Mountains Trail Guide.

backpacking
5 months ago

Great time with my sons on my first backpacking trip. Highly recommend this loop - don’t skimp on the side trips like Lunch Lake. Worth it.

backpacking
5 months ago

I backpacked this loop over the summer. It was my very first time backpacking and we did it clockwise (most people do it counterclockwise) so there was a lot of uphill. It was hard but ridiculously beautiful the entire time. The scenery changes throughout the whole loop too. You hike through forests, in the mountains, and by lakes. At some points I swear I felt like I was walking through Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings. When we went we saw a bunch of mountain goats and even two black bears! I went in August and when we hiked through a part of the mountains there were huckleberries everywhere. Basically the whole thing is amazing!

7 months ago

the loop is very nice.however,the views from the trail along the south side of cat peak (out by the cat walk) are the finest from a trail in the Olympic Mountains of western Washington.a small spring comes out just below the trail at one the avalanche tracks in that part of the trail.its the only source of water between heart lake ,cat basin,etc and the end of built trail.

7 months ago

The loop is nice,but no sain intelligent person would do this hike and not go out to the end of built trail at cat peak .carry water.

backpacking
8 months ago

If you're thinking about doing it, stop thinking. Leave behind anything that dings, rings or pings and just have at it. I had a chance to do this loop last month and it was completely worth every bite, bruise and blister I came back home with.

The traditional way to do this one is counter-clockwise, but we were unable to secure a backcountry permit early enough, so to stagger the campsites across the loop, the rangers gave us the option to do it in reverse. After reading up on this, a lot of backpackers mentioned that this is sort of a ‘hidden secret,’ so we figured why not. The one thing to note is that by doing it this way, there’s a lot more uphill in terms of length, so make sure to account for that time. We were essentially going uphill every day of the trip (the first 14 miles or so) except the final day, which was about 7 miles down, so if you do this the ‘right’ way, you get majority of the uphill out of the way on day 1. However, by doing it the ‘wrong’ way, the grade is not obscene and definitely handleable. Everytime you start to ‘dig deep,’ there’s something - whether it be a lake, a river, a vista - to help rejuvenate you for another push.

With that being said, there is no ‘wrong’ way.

Anyhow, after our final ‘real meal’ at the Springs Restaurant at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, we parked our cars at the end of the road, strapped on our packs, and into the thicket we go-eth.

The trail started off in the old-growth forest as we followed along Sol Duc River to our first campsite of the night about 5 miles in. The mosquitos were not shy, at all, so for the first time in my life, I had to throw on a mosquito net (trust me, this turned out to be an extremely necessary accessory for this entire trip and worth every penny of the 3 dollars it cost me…), fired up the MSR stove, inhaled a Mountain House Strogonoff, and passed out to the sounds of the river just yards from my head.

The next day was a wondrous burner. We spent the first half climbing out of the old-growth in the sub-alpine range, where we were treated to insanely gorgeous meadows dotted with streams and wildflowers, alpine lakes, and sun-drenched ridge lines laden with everything from elk to bears. We took this opportunity to wash off in the river, devour some calories, and fill up our water bladders (a good place to do so as the next water source is in the 7 Lakes Basin a good 6 or 7 miles away).

Once we made it through the meadow and up along the ridge, our timing could not have been more perfect. On one side, we had Mount Olympus and the snow-capped mountains surrounding it, slathered in ridiculous pink and blue and purple hues from the setting sunlight, and then, on the other side, being separated from a seemingly endless range of golden-sun-lit tree-covered mountains by nothing but a valley filled with shimmering alpine lake after lake. (I have a 360˚ photo on my blog, where I also have a much more detailed account of the entire trip, that you might want to check out: http://www.wasimofnazareth.com/blog/2017/9/10/my-olympic-national-park-z...)

Our campsite for that night was Silver Snag, which was situated right on the ridge-line overlooking Mount Olympus. This was too much! We woke up the next day to clouds covering much of the landscape, but got super lucky when she decided to indulge us for a few minutes by revealing her snow-capped face for a short peek through the cloud cover.

And she was glorious.

And then she was gone.

And that’s when the fog rolled in and it started to lightly drizzle. We figured we’d wait it out for a bit with a nap, but that was rudely interrupted by a family of mountain goats that, eh, look so cute and cuddly from afar, but, well, were quite the aggressive buggers. We were warned by the rangers and locals of their aggression, and were told everything from yell at them to throw rocks at them if they get too crazy. We kept scaring them away, but with each successful attempt to get them away from the campsite, they got bolder and angrier. Eventually one of us had to keep watch and scare them away, while the other two of us packed up camp (quick tip, use your tent rain fly and shake it in the air violently…that seems to do the trick, until they come back again, which they will. Oh they will…).

We continued on and as we began to dip into the 7 Lakes Basin, the fog began to slowly clear, revealing the surreal landscape before us…rolling hills with scattered lakes, both shallow and temporary ones formed by visible snowmelt, and deeper bodies of water that are more permanent features of the terrain. We spent the next few hours navigating the trails that snaked besides the lakes as we descended deeper into the valley towards Lunch Lake, our home for the night. Here, we were treated to a gorgeous scene as the rest of the fog cleared through the valley just in time to reveal a local deer population grazing just steps away from us as the sun set for the night.

The following morning was the toughest part

backpacking
8 months ago

Great backpacking trip. Spent first night just above Sol Duc spots in the stock camp. Second night at Deer lake. absolutely wonderful!

hiking
9 months ago

Incredible trail! This trail is about 75% climbing and 25% steep descending. Did as day hike, started as 645am finished 8.5 hrs later, wasn't in a rush and spent some time ar Bocachiel Peak and Heart Lake. Fall was a perfect time to be there, didn't see a single person until the junction for the falls, .8 miles before finishing the day. Some hard pack ice present, can make descending tricky for the 2.1 miles along High Divide to Heart Lake... doable but slow. Only wildlife was a beautiful male mountain goat at trail junction below Bocachiel Peak and a black bear on our drive home near campground A. Views on this hike were extraordinary of Mt. Olympus and Mt. Carrie. Would highly recommend!

hiking
10 months ago

Very nice trail. Amazing scenery. It took us about 9 hours. I suggest you carry GPS with you on this trail as there are quite a few "Y" shape trail splits and its not clear which trial is the main. Spotted 6 black bears within half mile distance from Heart lake.

10 months ago

About 20 mile hike, it took us about 10 hours with some stopping briefly for lunch and pictures. The hardest part about the hike was the distance. The incline gain wasn't too bad since it was stretched over the long distance. Very beautiful, snow, blueberries, lakes, mossy trees, bears, we loved it!!!

backpacking
10 months ago

Just returned from an amazing trip to High Divide/Seven Lakes Basin. Did the loop (counterclockwise) with the Saturday start @ 1130 am. Got to Lunch Lake at 530 pm after hiking for about 8 miles, set our tent, made dinner, watched the bears circle the lake and went to bed. Left on Sunday at 1130 am and continued the loop towards Seven Lakes/High Divide. The second leg was about 12 miles and took just over 6 hours to complete (made a stop for lunch at Heart Lake and numerous stops for pictures). Our pace was relatively fast. We encountered heavy rain and snow on Saturday and amazing blue sunny skies Sunday. Saw deer, 15 bears and abundance of lakes and peaks of the Olympics. Absolutely breathtaking hike.

backpacking
10 months ago

We did a 3 day hike with the first night at Deer Lake and the second night at Sol Duc Park. Tough hike but worth the stunning and amazing scenery along the way. We also saw 8 bears, one up close, but he ignored us and kept on eating all the blueberries :)

hiking
10 months ago

Even though we didn't do the whole loop, we loved it. We reached the junction to lunch lake (over deer lake) and returned the same way. Amazing views, bear sightings and beautiful landscape! Next time we will pack our tent to do the whole loop as multi day trip!!!

backpacking
11 months ago

We started off our day at the ranger station where we got our bear can and permit. We were lucky enough to be assigned two great camp spots for our three day/two night adventure. Day one at Sol Duc Park, and day two at Lunch Lake. It was a long steady hike to Sol Duc Park (around 8mi). We took leisurely breaks here and there, picked some berries, enjoyed the streams. I wanted to do this hike primarily for the wildlife and the views of Mount Olympus. Hikers kept passing us talking about a bear ahead on the trail, but we never ran into it. Later, after being at our camp and all set up, someone informed us that one was just at Heart Lake swimming. So of course we made our way up there for a "quick" peek. Quite a steep jaunt even for my partner and I who are in our early 20s and reasonably fit. We caught it just as the bear peacefully climbed up the side of the ridge. My first sighting in the wild!

The first morning we woke up to very stuffy noses and the smell of smoke from all of the wildfires currently burning in eastern Washington and Oregon. Unfortunately it remained smoky for the rest of our journey. The hike from Sol Duc Park to Lunch Lake is pretty nice. It starts out pretty steep between Sol Duc Park and High Divide. When we reached the High Divide, it was so smoky we only saw a part of Mount Olympus. Kind of disappointing, so with this we took the lake trails (possibly the y lake trail but it didn't match up exactly on my recording) to Lunch Lake. At Lunch we set up our camp and went down to cool off and enjoy the water. I heard some loud splashing, and looked across the way to see a bear also enjoying the lake. It stayed around for a good 15 minutes before heading towards the way we entered lunch lake. Around dusk, a mother deer and her baby walked right by our camp, another group came by a little later. Our hike out was relatively easy, but long. The first portion getting out of lunch and getting back up to the High Divide, is a steep one. Definitely want to come back around later September/October or next spring. Trail loop is also probably closer to 20 miles.

hiking
11 months ago

My wife and I did this day hike and went all the way to Lunch Lake before heading back and didn't have time to do the high divide as it was 7:30 pm when we got back to the trailhead. We wouldn't have descended to Lunch Lake but just viewed the Seven Lake basin from the top and then head to the divide.

backpacking
11 months ago

I did this as a backpacking trip with 2 nights and 3 days. I had a late start the first day and was supposed to go to Lunch Lake for the night, but ended up turning back because of a mama bear and cub on the trail that didn't seem too keen on leaving. I spent the first night in Deer Lake, then hiked to Sol Duc Park the next day, and then out on the third. The views were amazing, but definitely a lot of work! It didn't help that I soloed, so my pack was heavy. I didn't see any rangers on the trail, however there is a LOT of wildlife activity (bears, elk, mountain goats) so to the person asking about a dog, I would definitely not recommend bringing the dog for the safety of both the dog and the wildlife.

backpacking
11 months ago

I have not done this hike yet but am hoping it's a 5 star! I have been wanting to find something moderate for my first overnight backpacking trip. I have a few friends to come along, but was just wondering how big they are at enforcing the no dog rule? I have a dog who comes with me on every hike I go on and I was really hoping she could be a part of my first backpack trip. Any info would help tremendously! Thanks everyone!
Christel Pat

hiking
11 months ago

Great day hike! If you're in reasonable fitness this isnt a bad walk, (about 8hrs). Nice and steady going up, and the views on top are incredible. The walk along the river back does drag a little after the climb up and down.

hiking
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This hike was beautiful, we did it as along day hike but would be great for backpacking which most others were doing.

backpacking
Monday, August 14, 2017

Excellent Trail, definitely difficult. Heavy mosquito and black fly presence in early August, prepare accordingly. Definitely an unforgettable trail.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Learnt a lesson, maybe book Backcountry in the mountains in August not July! It's too late to tell you we had quite a bit of snow July 8,9,10 on Appleton Pass, the high divide abandoned trail and loop. But we did it. We had gators poles and crampons. Only used the crampons a bit on the divide... we did not stay at Lunch lake on our last night because it was pretty frozen. Heart Lake was my favourite camp. But I did see a lone tent spot on the Divide!! Such a great time!!! I could say so much more ♡✌︎ ps downloaded all trails pro because of all the snow. No regrets ↟↟↟

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Up up up. Don't forget to stop at the beautiful falls along the trail. Deer Lake is amazing. It's only four miles in if you don't want to do the whole loop. Saw a black bear walking up the path right at me but was able to easily shoo it off. Modest snow at the top, very doable. Loved it.

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