Little Divide Loop, Mink Lake Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Little Divide Loop - 13.7 miles
Mink Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||13.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,645' - 4,157' (4,157' is max elevation on loop)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,512' net elevation gain (+3,257' total elevation gain on loop)|
Little Divide Loop - 13.7 Miles Round-Trip
The Mink Lake, Little Divide, Deer Lake and Lovers Lane trails form a 13.7 mile loop through the Sol Duc Valley in Olympic National Park. The Mink Lake Trail climbs steadily to a ridge separating the Sol Duc River Valley (north) and Bogachiel River Valley (south). The Little Divide Trail runs along the ridge and drops to the Deer Lake Trail, which continues down to Lovers Lane on the Sol Duc River bottom. Lovers Lane levels through spectacular old growth to complete the loop.
The Mink Lake Trail rises on a rocky path into a second-gen forest that's gradually replaced by impressive old growth. It follows Mink Creek to the spur for Mink Lake, which drops to marshy meadows on the shore (2.5 miles : 3,085').
The trail briefly moderates past the lake over Bogachiel Park (2.9 miles), a large meadow which can be reached with a short bushwhack. Grades steepen over Bogachiel Park into a montane forest with brushy meadows and views across the valley (3.5 miles : 3,510').
Steep switchbacks lead past a few serviceable (but potentially damp) campsites to Little Divide Trail junction atop the ridge (4.3 miles : 4,135'). The Little Divide Trail turns east and drops in short, steep spurts down the Bogachiel side. Tread on this segment is noticeably softer, but take care on narrow sections over steep dropoffs.
Travel eases on mild undulations that open to brush and swale-like meadows (5.3 miles : 3,788'), past which it cuts across steep slopes back to a small saddle on the ridge (6.8 miles : 4,062').
The trail rolls over to the Sol Duc side and dips across patchy meadows with views over Deer Lake (7.25 miles : 3,885'). It winds through gladed slopes to the Deer Lake - High Divide Trail split (7.8 miles : 3,514').
The Deer Lake Trail wraps around the lake to the outlet stream (8.2 miles : 3,527'), where it begins a fast, rocky descent through big old growth to the Lovers Lane Trail split (10.7 miles : 1,975'). Sol Duc Falls is .1 mile from this point.
The Lovers Lane Trail turns west and levels along the river bottom on a slalom course through massive old growth and dense biomass. It crosses a bridge over Canyon Creek (10.95 miles : 1,917') to Hidden Creek (11.25 miles), a potentially challenging / impassible ford during high runoff.
The trail remains level with several river access points back to Sol Duc Hot Springs to complete the loop (13.7 miles : 1,645').
- N47 58.224 W123 51.906 — 0.0 miles : Mink Lake - Sol Duc Hot Springs Trailhead
- N47 57.837 W123 51.984 — .7 miles : Steady climb through second generation forest
- N47 57.442 W123 51.737 — 1.3 miles : Old growth Douglas fir and hemlock stands
- N47 57.201 W123 51.847 — 2.0 miles : Grade moderates in transitional forest
- N47 56.923 W123 52.192 — 2.4 miles : Mink Lake access spur
- N47 56.475 W123 52.265 — 3.0 miles : Trail runs high over Sol Duc Park
- N47 56.157 W123 52.313 — 3.35 miles : No fires beyond this point
- N47 55.986 W123 52.508 — 3.85 miles : Campsites along grassy bench
- N47 55.922 W123 52.488 — 4.1 miles : Little Divide Trail junction
- N47 55.995 W123 51.667 — 4.6 miles : Steep drop down Bogachiel Side
- N47 55.908 W123 50.870 — 5.2 miles : Travel moderates into brush and swale meadows
- N47 55.851 W123 50.056 — 5.8 miles : Moderate grades back toward ridge
- N47 55.574 W123 49.876 — 6.12 miles : Crest on ridge, drop back to Sol Duc side
- N47 55.289 W123 49.592 — 6.6 miles : Moderate drop through montane meadows
- N47 55.543 W123 49.364 — 7.8 miles : Deer Lake Trail junction
- N47 55.684 W123 49.455 — 8.2 miles : Deer Lake outlet bridge
- N47 55.927 W123 49.410 — 8.7 miles : Steep, rocky descent
- N47 56.511 W123 49.283 — 9.55 miles : Canyon Creek Campsite #1
- N47 56.677 W123 49.401 — 10.0 miles : Bridge over Canyon Creek
- N47 57.059 W123 49.257 — 10.7 miles : Lovers Lane Trail split
- N47 57.047 W123 49.605 — 10.95 miles : Cross bridge over Canyon Creek
- N47 57.100 W123 49.998 — 11.25 miles : Ford Hidden Creek
- N47 57.180 W123 50.492 — Level travel in old growth
- N47 57.609 W123 51.269 — Level travel in old growth
- N47 57.738 W123 51.430 — 12.95 miles : Cross bridge over tributary
- N47 58.011 W123 51.672 — 13.2 miles : Approach Olympic Hot Springs
- Huckleberries are particularly abundant all along this loop. High montane meadows are a good place to find deer, elk and bear, especially in the fall.
- The Mink Lake and Deer Lake trail segments are rocky. Sturdy footwear is recommended.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin area, including Mink Lake. 50% of sites can be reserved in advance. The other 50% is available first come, first served from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
- Permits for quota areas must be picked up at the WIC, or a staffed ranger station during business hours.
- There's a $5 per person - per night fee to backcountry camp in Olympic National Park (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange advance pickup.
- Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance.
- Camping is permitted only in designated sites. Deviation from your permit itinerary is not allowed, except in emergencies.
- Campsites are not individually assigned, and available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis. Groups of 7-12 people must camp in designated group sites within quota areas.
- Campfires are allowed below 3,500'. Fires are not permitted at Mink Lake or Deer Lake.
- Food Storage and Bear Canisters: All food and scented items must be secured 24 hours a day. Park- approved bear canisters are required in the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin, including Mink Lake and Deer Lake.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
- Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
- The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $25 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($50 annual pass).
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Mink Lake Trailhead is located within the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, 38.4 miles from Port Angeles off of Sol Suc Hot Springs Road.
From Port Angeles, head west on US 101 approximately 28 miles to Sol Duc Hot Springs Road (marked by large NPS sign along highway). Continue 10.8 miles to the Resort entrance. Follow signs to trailhead on far side of lot.
Sol Duc Hot Springs Road is closed seasonally due to weather. Call ahead for road conditions and accessibility.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: 866.476.5382
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office