Backpack 1000 Acre Meadows

Rate this Adventure 45.1 miles 10750 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Bryan Carroll

If you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy a long backpacking trip, this is the place for you! The trek into 1000 Acre Meadows takes you over 3 mountain passes, across multiple rivers, access to a couple waterfalls, and great views of the surrounding Olympics including Mount Olympus and Mount Anderson.

There are many different ways to reach 1000 Acre Meadows, but this guide will get you there starting at the Deer Park trailhead (5,400').

Day 1: 14 miles
You will start out by descending 2,400' and 4.3 miles to reach the Graywolf Camp. This is where the loop meets up with itself later on. Our goal was to travel south towards Gray Wolf Pass (6,150'). The Pass is roughly 11 miles from the camp, so you can decide to push on through the Pass in one go, or rest at some of the campsites along the way. The campsites from Graywolf camp are: Camp Ellis which is about 2.5 miles away, or Falls Camp which is 5.7 miles away (if you stay at Falls Camp, you can make a quick trip out to Cedar Lake which is west of the camp). If you would like to get even closer to the Pass before resting for the night, there are some meadows right before you head up the pass that you could set up camp in.

Just a quick word of caution, this is in bear country, so make sure to either hang your food and smelly goods on the provided bear wires at the campsites, hung 12 feet high and 10 feet from the nearest tree trunk, or use a bear canister.

Day 2: 7.5 miles
Gray Wolf Pass leaves you open to the elements, so be prepared for nasty weather as you go over. After about 2 miles of descending from the pass, you will come to a fork in the trail. Head west past Bear Camp and arrive at Dose Meadows (3.9 miles, 4,400'). This is a great place to set up camp due to it being a great center point for your exploration into 1000 Acre Meadows.

Day 3: 6 miles
Take the trail as though you are going to head to Hayden Pass. About halfway to the pass and at roughly 5,300' elevation, you should see a goat trail that heads east from your current trail. This takes you to the entrance of 1000 Acre Meadows. Follow this trail through the brush and you will see a small ridgeline to cross over. Once you climb up and over, you are staring right into the heart of 1000 Acre Meadows. This area is surrounded by mountains so it is well protected and hidden from other hikers. If you are lucky, you can spot some wildlife grazing down in the meadows. When you leave this area, if you make your way towards Sentinel Peak (just southeast of Hayden Pass) this seems to be the Marmot prairie-land as we came across nearly 20 marmots. Be careful where you step as there are marmot holes everywhere and this isn't a great area to twist an ankle.

Day 4: 13.3 miles
To head back to the Deer Park trailhead, we are going to go over Lost Pass (5,150'). From Dose Meadows, travel north and right away you will be ascending to the pass. Once to the top of the pass, you will descend and make your way around Lost Peak. As you make your way across the meadows, you will start to ascend towards Cameron Pass (6,450'). The south side of the pass is all grass, but once you get to the top, the north side is all a scree field. About a mile down from the pass, you will come through Upper Cameron which is a pretty nice campsite if you wish to stay here, if not, continue descending and heading north along the trail.

Once you have traveled 6.3 miles from Dose Meadows, you will come to a split in the trail. The northwest trail takes you up Grand Pass. We will take thenortheast trail, which is 7 miles until the Graywolf Camp. This area will take you across Cameron Creek multiple times, and you spend most of the time hidden in the woods. Camp at Graywolf for one more night to enjoy the peace and serenity of the Olympic National Park.

Day 4: 4.3 miles
Pack up your camp and start making your ascent up towards the Deer Park Trailhead. You have 2,400' in elevation and 4.3 miles to go in order to complete your trek!

This trip could be done in 3 days if you really want to push it, but it is more enjoyable to spend 4 to 5 days out there to really explore and take in the sites. Make sure to watch weather patterns up to the day you start, and to continually look west to see if any weather systems are making way towards you. Weather in the Olympic National Park can change on a dime. In just a couple days, we went from 60s and sunny, to waking up with a couple inches of snow, back up to 60s. Be prepared for any weather!

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