Sunday, July 27, 2014

Deer Park loop, Olympic National Park

Another weekend with Plain closed meant it was time for another "classic" route.

The Olympic Mountains look so close from Seattle, but including a ferry ride, driving through small towns and a winding 15-mile FS road, it takes just as long as heading to North Cascades National Park.

This loop, approximately 43 miles according to park maps, starts from Deer Park and heads to Obstruction Point, down into Grand Valley and over the pass, up Cameron Creek and over the pass, down the Dosewallips and, you got it, over Gray Wolf Pass, following the river down to Three Forks and ending with a will-to-live-killing four mile, 3200' climb back to Deer Park to finish the day.

The views are fantastic, there is varied terrain throughout and with the exception of an avalanche debris zone descending to Cameron Creek and the usual brush issues, the trails are quite a bit better maintained than what I come to expect from the North Cascades.

Go do this loop. Seriously.

From Deer Park to Obstruction Point
Deer along the trail
Pretty much the view the whole way toward Obstruction Point
Looking back toward Deer Park, Baker and Shuksan across the Sound
Looking up Grand Valley from along the ridge; Grand and Moose lakes visible
Mt. Olympus
Descending from Obstruction Point into Grand Valley
Marmot along the trail
Moose Lake
Flowers all day...
Gladys Lake
Along the trail to Grand Pass
They're everywhere...
Decently-steep trail to Grand Pass; the other side is steeper yet
Tarn at Grand Pass

Descent from Grand Pass toward Cameron Creek 
A field of Avalanche Lily
Looking back up from Cameron Creek at the avalanche debris that has taken out a good chunk of trail; a bushwhack trail is fairly easy to find
Cameron Creek trail 
Upper Cameron Basin

Looking up at Cameron Pass (very top R of picture)
Upper Cameron Basin from below the pass
Small snow patch before Cameron Pass; easy to go up, might be nice to have some poles if you come down
Cameron Pass
Looking toward Lost Pass, Mt. Anderson with glaciers in the background
Looking back toward Cameron Pass, top left, from Lost Pass
Zoom of the trail heading back toward Cameron Pass
Dose Meadows marmot

Looking down the Dosewallips River valley, with Little Mystery (r), Mystery and Deception
Up and away, almost 3000' to Gray Wolf Pass
Great Paintbrush show; a few hundred feet up red gave way to pink
Point 6485' above Gray Wolf Pass, at the bottom right of the peak
A lonely sign atop Gray Wolf Pass

Looking down (north) the Gray Wolf River valley
Ancient canteen below Gray Wolf Pass
Feeding into Gray Wolf River, ridge west of 6485' behind
Gray Wolf marmot
Lower down on the Gray Wolf trail
Last sign for the day at Three Forks; 4.3 miles and 3200' up to Deer Park
Getting close to Deer Park... the bottom left of Blue Mountain
Trying to muster a smile before entering Deer Park 


  1. Thanks for the report (and the pictures)! And nice work on your time.

    Your post helped us decide on this loop for our run this past Saturday - and we were not disappointed. What an incredible part of this world - portions of it felt just like heaven. And while the last two climbs (Gray Wolf Pass and back up to Deer Park) were brutal, their blows were softened by the expanding views.

    I second you: Go do this loop. Now.

    1. Woohoo! Thank you for letting me know, Ben. I'm glad you enjoyed the loop and happy my post was useful. And yes, those climbs take something out of you!

  2. Luke, I am planning on doing this route on Labour Day weekend. I see that you ran this counterclockwise. Is there any pros/cons on doing it the other way. I see that the trail are well labelled on my map. Is the signage OK as well?

    Thanks for all your blog posts. I really enjoy reading them.

    1. Thanks Charles :) . Yeah, I believe every junction is signed and I don't remember there being any confusing spots. I think counterclockwise has better views and also does most climbs on the northern slopes. You end with a tough climb, but I also wouldn't want to slog up the 10m+ climb from Three Forks to Gray Wolf Pass, which is a long and easy descent. Enjoy!