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High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop

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Olympic National Park

High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop is a 19 mile heavily 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

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

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.

running
icy
scramble
snow
10 days ago

6/25/20 - set out on this trail early in the morning to complete as a trail run, going counterclockwise to deer lake first, ended up completing in 7 hours because of all the snow along the ridge section. Trail at the lower elevations fine, good amount of incline but nothing crazy. Immediately above deer lake (~4000ft) snow covers the trail pretty much completely. Hard to follow in many places and continuing up to higher elevations along the ridge require microspikes to traverse sections of snow on steep inclines. Snow almost 100% coverage from above Deer Lake all the way to Heart Lake. Quite a few sketchy transitions from snow to trail, and back to snow, along the ridge in steep sections so beware. Snow still present in sections below Heart Lake and post holed until the Upper Sol campsites. Would recommend trying another route if looking for a completely runnable route, due to the snow. Otherwise hard, fun route for those looking for a little bit more of an adventure.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely gorgeous. Lots of majestic views. You start in thick forest and end up in alpine scenery. I would do it over and over again.

backpacking
rocky
3 months ago

Great 3-day backpack in late August of 2019. Lots of bears. No bugs. Views can’t be beat. Rain the first night then lots of sun on the Divide. We did the loop counter-clockwise and I would recommend that as the clockwise version would be a long, steep ascent to Heart Lake/ High Divide. The trail is a little difficult to follow where the “geological disturbance” has completely obliterated the ground/ trail. We missed the turn off to Lunch Lake, but that was ok as we had a long way to go for night two camping reservations. (Tip: Make your reservations early in the year!!!) Heart Lake is gorgeous. Probably my favorite part of the trip. Lots of bears around there and the 7-lakes basin. Once we were on the High Divide we got a little disoriented though and weren’t sure where Heart Lake was exactly. If you do the loop counterclockwise, when you are on the High Divide, the 7-lakes basin will be on your left and Mt Olympus off in the distance to your right. Heart Lake is beyond the farthest ridgeline straight head. You can’t see it from the High Divide until you get beyond this far ridgeline and start to descend. It’s further than you think, but obvious when you make it around the ridgeline. Heart Lake sits in a beautiful basin of its own, and is shaped exactly like a heart. And what a way to end a 3-day backpack with a soak in the mineral rich hot springs resort just up the road from the trailhead!!! Don’t forget to bring a towel, change of clothes and your swim suit for lunch, shower and a soak at the hot springs resort. (They even provide body wash for free if you ask.). We are going back in 2020, adding a stay at Lunch Lake this time.

hiking
8 months ago

We actually did a bit of a different trek than what's listed here, but part of it was along this loop: we did Hoh Rainforest --> Hoh Lake --> Heart Lake and back. We did it in 4 nights. Hoh Rainforest was cool, definitely unique, but it was a little monotonous doing it for 9 miles in the beginning and again for 9 miles at the end of our trip. The highlight of the trip was being up above the clouds above seven lake basin - it was absolutely magical. Also went down to Lake no. 8 (very sketchy off trail path, don't recommend for anyone without significant experience), which was serene and very beautiful. If I did this hike again I'd probably do it point-point, incorporate this whole loop, and incorporate Sol Duc. Sad to have missed that portion. But overall, this area of Washington is absolutely breathtaking.

hiking
8 months ago

Just wrote a review for this amazing hike and it got erased... Sigh. Not rewriting it, but I'll keep a few points short. Long 7.4 to lunch lake (Counterclockwise route). Nothing technical in any way, but persistent up throughout. We're New England hikers and our trails are much more physically demanding than anywhere else I've been in the country, including Mt Whitney, but these west coast trails are long, well groomed and totally enjoyable to hike. After a night at Lunch Lake we ascended the 500 feet back up to the high divide and continued around the loop getting amazing visuals of Mt Olympus glaciers before the high density fog took it away. Sad, but the weather in October is always a fingers crossed endeavor and we only got rained on once throughout the entire 18.5 miles. I consider that a big win. We lowered down to Heart lake, ate lunch a little further down in a nice little camp site below the lake and then finished the last 6 or so miles descending out. This hike is long, persistent and beautiful. It doesn't require any special training other than the ability to carry your camp with you over 18 miles (which admittedly got tiring in the last couple miles) but we were high spirited at the beauty of Olympic National Park.

hiking
8 months ago

Probably one of my favorite trails. We drove up Friday and were able to get permits. Beautiful views and constantly changing scenery.

Awesome!! Unfortunately , the sun came out as i was on the last third of the hike. Nonetheless, a great hike!!

backpacking
muddy
scramble
snow
9 months ago

Did the loop October 1st - 3rd counterclockwise with overnight stays at Lunch Lake and Heart Lake. The weather was showing 2 mostly sunny days (following however 5 inches of snow on the Divide the night before) I decided to take my chances that by the time I would get there it wouldn’t be too bad - but packed expecting the worst should the weather change. Luckily the weather held and I had an amazing trip! The trail started out easy enough and gets progressively challenging as you climb with your pack. I’m flat footed so I am a slower hiker than most and the path was increasingly tricky with planning my footfalls around rocks. Hiking poles made this much easier to navigate and lighter on my knees. The best thing is that you have increasingly beautiful views to reward you for the effort. The fall colors are out in force and an added beauty. The biggest challenge was a geological event that has created a boulder field and obfuscated the path right before you descend to Lunch Lake. Be sure to follow the cairns and don’t make the mistake I made and miss the brief climb up out of the boulder field that brings you to the Lunch Lake descent (otherwise you will just end up back where you started) Luckily I bumped into an amazing group who was staying at Lunch Lake that night too and we found it together. The descent was steep but by then I was ready to get to camp so it goes fast. Lunch Lake is beautiful and the first night was clear and beautiful for star gazing. Temps weren’t too bad with the first day hike being 50 in the highs and 30 or so for the low. Layers were the key to a restful sleep. Got an early start the next morning and had to muscle up for the climb out which is much different than descending! But once you get out the climb up to the Divide is absolutely stunning. It got progressively colder but never uncomfortable. A unexpected occurrence happened as I was scaling the side of one of the mountains...I got a signal! So I had a brief but very amazing video conversation with my wife and son while staring at the vast mountain views while straddling the side of a cliff! Once I got within a couple miles of the Divide the route became snow covered but nothing that good hiking poles couldn’t help navigate (though I busted my butt once so be careful :) After some persistence I got to the Divide and was rewarded with clear snow covered mountain views. I can honestly say this was one of the most beautiful 360 degree views I have ever witnessed. All the climbing is duly rewarded with a once in a lifetime experience. Stop here, drop the pack, and take it all in. The decent into Heart Lake remained snow covered right until I got to camp which was wet but snow-less. I had all of Heart Lake to myself and the sun was out all afternoon bringing an almost summer feel when in direct sunlight. I was truly lucky to be here at this time - it was beautiful and full of complete solitude. Again, 30 degree night full of amazing star gazing. The next morning was clear with some possible rain by noon so I started out early at 8am. The descent into Sol Duc was very quick since it is almost entirely downhill and mostly gentle. The last 5 miles in the forrest were muddy but also beautiful in its own way. I was able to get out by 11:30am and the possible weather never appeared outside of a few drizzles. To finish the trip I had a massage booked at the Sol Duc Springs resort and spent quite a bit of time in the hot springs with my new friends I had met on the trail at Lunch Lake. We retreated to the Sol Duc campsite (which ironically were next to each other) and shared stories the rest of the night over hot cocoa and whiskey. Couldn’t have been a better finish to the trail and one that will be etched fondly in my memory for the rest of my life.

hiking
9 months ago

Gorgeous views! Up against so many elements given our perfect timing. I believe we caught the first or second snow of the season. The snow was such a nice welcome to the colorful fall layers. We attempted this counter-clockwise with some unexpected obstacles. Counter clockwise is easier on the knees as the trails can be pretty rocky. I twisted my knee twice with a 40-50 pound bag on my back. Due to some delays, and land fissures/land slide/boulders, my buddies and I did not make it all the way around the loop. We camped at Lunch Lake (7+ miles in) and exited the same route. Woke up at 7a to light snow. My friend was doubtful she could make it back up the mountain to exit the valley but a friendly group of backpackers/campers gave some much needed moral support! Some of the trails are steep and look intimidating but the trail width, dirt, rocks, etc. will give you enough traction. Trekking poles are highly recommended. At around 5 miles? You will need to climb over large boulders. The trail becomes unstable and unmarked, and your feet might sink into the soil if you stand in the right (or wrong) spot. Otherwise, small obstacle with very rewarding views at Lunch Lake. Highly recommend this trail, and will definitely attempt to tackle this again in the future.

hiking
9 months ago

Did this as a day hike. No bugs, lots of cool mushrooms. Loved the variety of views. Fall colors are just starting. There were just a couple steep spots but nothing too crazy. Went counter clockwise. Trail was extremely well marked and well maintained. So much to see I'll go back when I have a few days to explore.

hiking
muddy
rocky
9 months ago

This hike was very long and difficult to complete in one day. I did it as a day hike on Thursday, 09/19/2019. I started the hike at 6:50am and got back to my car at 6:45pm.. I chose the counter-clockwise route. Having just done the Marmot Lake and Jade Lake hike last week, I found this hike to be a bit underwhelming. I mean, the seven lakes are pretty, but they are nowhere near as majestic and heavenly as Marmot Lake or Jade Lake. That’s just my opinion, of course. I think what really sells this hike is the high possibility of seeing a bear. Once I had seen a black bear and the first three lakes in the basin (Round Lake, Lunch Lake and Clear Lake), I had pretty much seen all that I wanted to see. Going the counter-clockwise route, it’s all uphill until you get past a very rocky section and meet the split in the trail. One route goes to the lakes and the other route continues around the trail. At about the 5.8 mile mark I encountered a black bear. It crossed the trail up ahead of me and stopped to look at me before disappearing into the woods. A few hundred feet later I looked back to see it feeding on berries in a field behind me. I took a few pictures but kept a big distance as I was alone on this hike. It’s very steep descending into the Seven Lakes basin. The views of the lakes are nice. Coming back up out of the basin is tough. It’s 0.4 miles long (7.6-8 mile mark) and is very steep. As you continue around the trail it’s more uphill from 8-8.8 miles in. I stopped at about the 9 mile mark to take a picture when the clouds started rolling in. There is just one more steep uphill section from 10.1-10.2 miles in. After that point, it’s all downhill for the rest of the trail and high stress on the knees. It started raining when I was between the 12 and 13 mile mark and the trail got very muddy and wet. It’s a cool little adventure and I got what I wanted out of it. I recommend it.

hiking
muddy
off trail
9 months ago

Wow. Wow. Incredible. Inspiring. Wonderful. The stretch just before Lunch Lake spur is messed up. Lots of rock fall and fissures in the ground. Do NOT attempt at night. Otherwise tolerable trail into a paradise of scenery. Highly recommend it.

We messed this up in every way possible. Missed our exit by 45 miles, then proceeded to hike the wrong way. Ended up car camping on night one, and did an quick overnighted at Deer lake for night 2. Need to to it again. Lol.

hiking
scramble
9 months ago

backpacking
9 months ago

The trail was super cool! Ton of bears. Peak blueberry season.

La partie sud est très sympa. Camping à Round Lake avec vue sur le lac magnifique. Des qu'on quitte les bois en hauteur, on tombe sur les ours, au début quand ils sont près du sentier, c'est un peu inquiétant mais on finit par s'y faire. La randonnée est très bien jusqu'à Heart Lake, donc l'idéal est de camper avant. Malheureusement pour moi il pleuvait avec du brouillard donc je n'ai pas pu profiter de la vue qui semblait exceptionnelle. Après Heart Lake, le retour par la partie nord est très long dans les bois, pas très intéressant et on a hâte que ça finisse.

This hike was beautiful. Lots of people and bears.

backpacking
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

This is an amazing hike! Beauty everywhere. We did this as a 2 night, 3 day backpacking trip and went counterclockwise. My only issue was right before the decent to Lunch Lake, there is a “geological disturbance” which made the trail disappear, causing the need to navigate over rocky boulders. Not fun for me with my large pack, but doable. The trail to Lunch Lake is about 0.5 miles and pretty steep, but totally worth it. The ranger had given us a tip, that if you take the trail out to explore the other lakes (past lunch lake), it eventually meets back up with the divide trail. It’s not marked, but this is how we went and it was awesome. The views on this hike are nonstop! Mount Olympus and the Hoh River, with all the wild flowers...gorgeous! And Heart Lake-loved. I recommend spending some time if you do this hike. There is way too much to see and explore for just a day hike. I can’t wait to do it again!

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

hiking
10 months ago

This loop lived up to expectations. Started in old growth forest full of mushrooms for foraging (if you know how to find the chanterelles). After 5 miles ascended to high alpine terrain and the 7 lakes basin region. This was carpeted with ripe wild mountain blueberries and hence many black bears feasting on said blueberries. Definitely worth spending a day or two in the basin and not rushing around this loop. Spectacular views of Mt Olympus and its glaciers followed. Ending with a long descent along the Sol Duc River where just 4 campsites are designated. Don’t miss having a celebratory lunch at the Crescent Lake lodge at the end of the trip.

hiking
10 months ago

Possibly my favorite dayhike ever. Did it once before as an overnight which was amazing too.

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