Gray Wolf Camp, Slab Camp Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Gray Wolf Camp - 15.2 miles
Slab Camp Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||15.2 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,550' - 2,050'|
|Elevation Change:||-500' net elevation change (2,510' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Gray Wolf Camp - 15.2 Miles Round-Trip
The Upper Gray Wolf River Valley is a remote and and less traveled area of Olympic National Park. There are multiple ways to reach the upper section of the Gray Wolf River, however, easy access is afforded year round from the Slab Camp Trailhead, located just south of the city of Sequim.
From the Slab Camp Trailhead, the Slab Camp Trail quickly splits with the Deer Ridge Trail and undulates south by southeast before making its first deliberate descent. The trail runs downhill through the heart of the Buckhorn Wilderness showcasing flowering rhododendron and stands of young Douglas fir draped in old man's beard. Views of Deer Ridge and Gray Wolf Ridge emerge from time to time before the trail becomes completely cloaked by the canopied forest.
The Slab Camp Trail will descend 1000' from the trailhead to the route's lowest elevation at Camp Tony (2.6 miles : 1.450'). A major bridge takes visitors over the Gray Wolf River where the trail dead-ends into the Gray Wolf River Trail (2.9 miles 1,550'). Turn right (southwest) to begin the Gray Wolf River Trail.
Now traveling southwest on the east side of the Gray Wolf River, the trail begins a 1000' ascent through a mixed forest of young Douglas fir and cedar baked into an understory of dense sword fern and salal.
For the next two miles, much remains unchanged until the trail crosses a seemingly out-of-place scree field (5.0 miles : 2,330) before reaching Slide Camp (5.5 miles : 2,310') then descending into the Slide Creek drainage. This area was the victim of a major wildfire in 1952 resulting in a dense, healthy stand of young second-growth Douglas fir.
After crossing Slide Creek, the trail leaves the Buckhorn Wilderness and and enters Olympic National Park (5.7 miles : 2,000'). The path now begins a steady ascent as young Douglas fir stands give way to impressive specimens of old growth Giant cedar and fir.
The trail crosses a small footbridge (7.0 miles : 2,360') before cresting and dropping quickly to Gray Wolf - Three Forks Camp (7.6 miles : 2,050').
A backcountry registration board marks the split to Gray Wolf Camp which features the confluence of Cameron Creek and the Gray Wolf River. Turn right at the backcountry registration board to enter the Gray Wolf - Three Forks Camp area.
- N47 57.906 W123 11.613 — 0.0 miles: Slab Camp Trailhead - 2,550'
- N47 57.415 W123 11.569 — 1.0 miles: Trail begins descent through Rhododendron
- N47 56.734 W123 10.930 — 2.0 miles: Half way through 1000' descent to Camp Tony
- N47 56.441 W123 10.577 — 2.6 miles: Camp Tony - cross Gray Wolf River - 1,450'
- N47 56.324 W123 10.669 — 2.9 miles: Turn right (southwest) onto the Gray Wolf River Trail
- N47 56.094 W123 11.365 — 4.0 miles: In full ascent - 2,060'
- N47 55.618 W123 12.141 — 5.0 miles: Cross scree field
- N47 55.546 W123 12.141 — 5.5 miles: Slide Camp - 2,310'
- N47 55.613 W123 12.609 — 5.7 miles: Enter Olympic National Park - 2,000'
- N47 55.382 W123 13.354 — 6.5 miles: Start 2nd major climb
- N47 55.069 W123 13.812 — 7.0 miles: Cross footbridge - nearing crest of 2nd ascent
- N47 54.911 W123 14.535 — 7.6 miles: Gray Wolf Camp - Three Forks Camp - 2,050'
- River Otter, Beaver and Fishers are known to inhabit the Upper Gray Wolf River Valley due to its massive downfall and perrenial river debris.
- Cedar Lake is accessible past Camp Ellis on an unmaintained trail. Trail conditions vary greatly and stock is prohibited on the Cedar Lake spur.
- The Buckhorn Wilderness is home to multiple snowcapped peaks including Mt. Fricaba (7,134'), Buckhorn Mountain (6,988'), Iron Mountain (6,950') and Tyler Peak (6,350').
- The Gray Wolf, Dungeness and Big Quilcene Rivers are the major waterways flowing through the Buckhorn Wilderness.
- The Gray Wolf River is of glacial origin and is fed by Deception Glacier at the head of the Upper Gray Wolf and Dungeness Rivers.
- The striking blue-green hue of the Gray Wolf River is caused by glacial till brought down the mountains by the river.
- Trail conditions past the Gray Wolf Camp along the Gray Wolf River Trail to Camp Ellis are very difficult due to areas of extreme blowdown - at times impassable.
- The Gray Wolf River turns into the Dungess River which spills out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Permits are required if camping inside the Olympic National Park boundary. Please contact the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles for permit info and current regulations / trail conditions.
If camping in the Buckhorn Wilderness prior to the NPS boundary - no permit is required but please abide by Leave No Trace principles.
Fishing is permitted. Olympic National Forest abides by all Washington State Fishing Regulations. Fishing license required.
Within Olympic National Park, no license is required yet fishing is catch and release only with 2 hatchery steelhead allowed to be retained.
Artificial lures with barbless single point hook only within NPS boundaries.
Catch card required in both the NPS and Olympic National Forest (Buckhorn WIlderness).
Rules and Regulations
- No pass is required to park during the day or overnight at the Slab Camp Trailhead
- Groups of 12 or more are prohibited
- No motorized vehicles or bikes of any kind are allowed
- No caching of personal gear for more than 24 hours
- Fires are not permitted above 3,500' elevation
- Livestock can not be tethered to a tree or other foliage for more than 30 minutes
- Pets are not permitted past the Olympic National Park boundary
- Permits are required for camping in Olympic National Park - but not within the Buckhorn Wilderness
Directions to Trailhead
From Port Angeles - drive east towards Sequim on Highway 101 and turn right onto Taylor Cutoff Road. Take Taylor Cutoff Road for 2.5 miles and it will bend right and turn into Lost Mountain Road. Take Lost Mountain Road for 2.5 miles to Slab Camp Road and turn left on to Slab Camp Road. Drive 0.9 miles on Slab Camp Road and turn right onto Forest Service Road 2875 (unmarked intersection) then drive 3.5 miles to the well marked Slab Camp Trailhead.
Note: Slab Camp Road is a semi-paved gravel road which has many deep water-filled potholes. Please drive carefully and watch for these hazards.
From Hood Canal Bridge / Sequim - drive north / west towards Sequim on Highway 101 and shortly after leaving Sequim, turn left onto Taylor Cutoff Road. Take Taylor Cutoff Road for 2.5 miles and it will bend right and turn into Lost Mountain Road. Take Lost Mountain Road for 2.5 miles to Slab Camp Road and turn left on to Slab Camp Road. Drive 0.9 miles on Slab Camp Road and turn right onto Forest Service Road 2875 (unmarked intersection) then drive 3.5 miles to the well marked Slab Camp Trailhead.
The Upper Gray Wolf Trail runs through the Buckhorn Wilderness then enters Olympic National Park - thus requiring dual agency management.
Hood Canal Ranger District - Quilcene
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131