Backpack - North Fork Quinault River & Skyline Trail Loop


Backpack - North Fork Quinault River & Skyline Trail Loop

Backpack a less-visited corner of Olympic National Park and traverse a rugged and beautiful high traverse along the Skyline Trail. We’ll start on the North Fork Quinault trailhead and climb up the river in two days to Low Divide, where we turn west and traverse below Mt Seattle to Lake Beauty, along the ridgetops to Three Prune camp for the last night. We’ll try to find the giant Yellow Cedar on the last day.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Moderate/Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 45.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 8,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 5,300 ft
  • Pace: 1.0 - 2.0

We may meet closer to the trailhead to arrange a short carpool, to avoid crowding at the trailhead.

This is a challenging backpack, especially the fourth day, which follows a very rough trail --  narrow, with lots of up and down -- between Lake Beauty Peak and Kimta Peak. The trip up the North Fork Quinault requires three fords (Wild Rose Creek, Elip Creek, and the river at Sixteen Mile). Trekking poles and bear cans are required for this trip. The rewards are worth it.

We have permits for camping at Elip Creek (6.6 mi), Low Divide (9.2 mi), Lake Beauty (8 mi), and Three Prune (10.5 mi). The final day is 11.8 mi.

The leader will seek reimbursement from participants for the $8 per night backpacking fee the Park Service charges, for a total of $32 per person.


North Fork Quinault River

  • Green Trails Mt Christie No. 166

    Custom Correct Quinault-Colonel Bob

    Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park

    USGS Bunch Lake

    USGS Mount Hoquiam

    USGS Mount Christie

    USGS Kimta Peak
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister required
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste

Recommended maps: Custom Correct "Quinault - Colonel Bob" or Green Trails "Mt Christie"

Trip Reports