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Mink Lake to Little Divide

Olympic Peninsula

Location

Olympic Peninsula -- Northern Coast
View map below

Length

15.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2500 ft.
Highest Point: 4130 ft.

Rating

3.12 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 
 

Start your hike at the Mink Lake trailhead at 1650 feet of elevation. The trail to Mink Lake splits right at the initial junction with the Lovers Lane trail (which will be your return if opting for the loop). The first half mile passes through gloomy second-growth. The original forest here was logged a century ago and now the trees are in a state of early maturation.

At a quarter mile the trail jogs across an old logging road and soon enters old growth. The forest opens up with sword fern and shrubs among the stately trunks of ancient firs, which give way to hemlock as the trail climbs ever upward. It is cool and moist on the north aspect of the slope, enabling skunk cabbage and trillium to bloom into early summer. At two miles, the trail rounds a spur at about 2800 feet, before gently arching toward the lake.

At 2.5 miles and 3100 feet lies tiny Mink Lake. Hemlock, silver fir, and marshy beargrass meadows line the tranquil waters, which are often disturbed by jumping fish. A side trail forks left where overnight hikers will find the bear wire and an old shelter, now home to rodents.

Continue up the main trail beyond Mink Lake a quarter mile to another, very shallow lake nearly covered by encroaching meadows. At 3.5 miles cross a small stream and look to the right across open parkland to a pond framed by mountain hemlock. The Little Divide is less than a mile away now, but still 600 feet up. Several series of switchbacks wrap up the hardest part of the whole journey. Earlier in the season this final ascent may be snow covered. If so, head more or less straight up through the trees and the Little Divide trail should show itself on the ridgetop.

At 4.3 miles is the marked junction of the Mink Lake, Bogachiel, and Little Divide trails. A peek of Mount Olympus is possible through a window in mountain hemlock boughs. Turn left (east) and proceed along the ridge at roughly 4100 feet. After 5 miles cross a wide depression in the ridge, left over from when the mountainside slumped under its own weight.

At about 6 miles catch a brief glimpse of tiny Bogachiel Lake. The trail then rounds the headwall of the North Fork of the Bogachiel, crossing the Little Divide back into the Sol Duc watershed. Be wary of a high-angle snow patch that may bury the trail here and can linger into summer. At 7 miles a picturesque switchback rewards hikers with final meadow walk down to Deer Lake, at 7.8 miles and 3550 feet elevation.

Meadows abound with wildflowers and tourists. The lake is popular with families on day hikes and campers on their way to the crowded Seven Lakes Basin. For a shortened return trip with fresh scenery follow the trail down from Deer Lake to Lovers Lane (don't miss Sol Duc Falls) which terminates at the resort and Mink lake trailhead (approximately 6 miles from Deer Lake).

The patio deli at the resort serves reasonable lunches through mid afternoon. A soak in the hot springs is the ultimate way to end a long hike.

 

Mink Lake to Little Divide

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.9693, -123.8641 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Olympic Peninsula -- Northern Coast

Little Divide (#36)

Olympic National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Olympic Mountains Trail Guide (Robert L. Wood - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Seven Lakes Basin-Mt Olympus Climbing No. 133S

Custom Correct Seven Lakes Basin-Hoh

Getting There

From Port Angeles follow US 101 west for 29 miles, passing Lake Crescent. About 2 miles beyond the Fairholm store, turn left onto the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. (From Forks head east 28 miles on US 101, and turn right just past milepost 219.) Follow this road for 12 miles (passing the park entrance booth). Just past the Eagle Ranger Station turn right into the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.

Park at the back of the lot where the trailhead is marked by a kiosk (trail is uphill and left of the gated road next to the kiosk). The lot has plenty of room for cars, and the resort offers a full range of amenities, including cabins, restaurant, hot spring pools, restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. There is a large and ever-booked national park campground near the resort. Call ahead to find out if any spots are available.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 

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Mink Lake to Little Divide

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