High Alpine Traverses

There are some wonderful high alpine traverses in the Olympic Mountain Range. These traverses have their own chapter in the Climber's Guide. The traverses are a form of wilderness travel that is a cross between hiking and climbing. Many of them can be used as approaches to climbs, but they are recommended for scenery and interest as well as for mountaineering experiences in their own right. Travel is off trails, mostly in high open meadow, scree, snow, and rock. Some brush may be encountered. Moderate rock-scrambling ability will suffice. Steep snow slopes are found on some routes, and an ice axe should be carried on these. In early season, an ice axe should always be carried for any of these traverses. A couple of the routes involve crossing glaciers, so proper equipment and knowledge is advised. The time required for these trips will vary greatly depending on conditioning, experience, knowledge of the route, and whims of the hiker.

This page gives gives an overview of the popular high alpine traverses described in the Climbers Guide. Clickable maps take you to pages describing the individual traverses. Although this section of the website contains all the route information for these traverses given in the Climbers Guide, it is wise to refer to the Climbers Guide for more detailed approach information, map references, and GPS waypoints.

The traverses are grouped into three areas: Skokomish-Hamma Hamma Area, Dungeness-Dosewallips Area, and the Bailey Range Area. In general, the routes are presented starting at the southeast corner of the range and continuing in a counterclockwise direction; in effect from closest to farthest.



Overivew Map





Skokomish-Hamma Hamma Area Traverses

Three traverses are possible in this area; two of them can be combine for a long loop. The Skokomish River trail gives access to Gladys Divide, located above Flapjack Lakes; from Gladys Divide, a traverse in very interesting alpine country can be made to Lake of the Angels and then to First Divide, ten returning via the Skokomish River trail. Total distance for this entire loop is 33 miles: 23 miles on trail and about 10 cross-country. Lake of the Angels can also be reached via the Lena Lake trail and a short traverse to the Putvin trail for a total of 16 mile: 11 miles on trails and 5 mile cross-country (plus a 4-mile road walk closes a 20-mile look back to the Lena Lake trailhead).

See the Climbers Guide for more detailed approach and map information. Click on the following links (a clickable feature has been added to the map too) to read descriptions for the individual traverse route, copied from the Climbers Guide.
Clickable Map:

Map by Steph Abegg



Dungeness-Dosewallips Area Traverses

The ranges of the northeastern Olympics do not lie in one long chain to form a single traverse, as does the Bailey Range to the west (see next section). However, some of the routes do link up to form longer trips. Three of the routes can be done in two days or less and offer good trips for the weekender. Most can be worked out to end at the same point a the start, to simplify transportation. All are outstanding mountaineering adventures.

See the Climbers Guide for more detailed approach information. Click on the following links (a clickable feature has been added to the map too) to read descriptions for the individual traverse route, copied from the Climbers Guide.
Clickable Map:
Map by Steph Abegg



Bailey Range Traverses

The spectacular Bailey Range is a crescent-shaped range of mountains with commanding views at every turn. The isolated range circles the Mt. Olympus Massif from N to SE following the curve of the Hoh River.

The Baileys offer some of the finest high country the Olympics have to offer, and although much of it is "trail" now due to its worldwide attention and popularity, it is still a challenge for routefinding in many areas, especially in bad weather. These trails consist of long or short sections of continuous game trail that sometimes end in gullies, meadows, etc., where you need to descend, traverse, or ascend until you find the next section of trail. These trails are usually the least difficult path through rugged terrain.

Through the use of these cross-country routes (plus the Skyline Trail from Low Divide to the North Fork Quinault River trailhead via the ridge between the Queets and Quinault rivers), it is possible to cross the Olympics from north to south almost entirely in high, scenic country. The routes are described in sections but can be done in one grand traverse or a few sections at a time. Some segments offer enjoyment as day trips for strong hikers. Examples of the many possibilities of extended trip are provided in the Climbers Guide, but it can be more fun to just develop your own trip.

See the Climbers Guide for more detailed approach information. Click on the following links (a clickable feature has been added to the map too) to read descriptions for the individual traverse route, copied from the Climbers Guide.
Clickable Map:
Map by Steph Abegg

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