Lower Gray Wolf River Trail, Lower Gray Wolf Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington

Lower Gray Wolf River Trail - 8.4 miles

Lower Gray Wolf Trailhead

The Lower Gray Wolf River

The Lower Gray Wolf River

Round-Trip Length: 8.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 1,278' - 1,403' (1,458' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +125' net elevation gain (+1,420' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lower Gray Wolf River Trail - 8.4 Miles Round-Trip

The Lower Gray Wolf River Trail runs 4.2 miles from Slab Camp Road to an impassable rock slide along a steep bank. This diverse trail features lush bottomlands, several established campsites and multiple river access points.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Though net elevation gain is nominal, hills in each direction give it a more moderate rating. Note that, due to the slide, you must use Slab Camp Trail #838 to access the Upper Gray Wolf River Trail: 

The trail drops from Slab Camp Road through grassy glades and mixed timber to the Cat Creek Trail split (0.6 miles), and across the Buckhorn Wilderness Boundary to an established campsite on the river (1.5 miles : 1,095').

It soon bends away and rises steadily to the trail's highest point with good views of snowcapped peaks in the Buckhorns (2.2 miles : 1,458').

It drops back to the river and a 2nd campsite (2.5 miles : 1,225'), then up and away once more. The trail runs across a narrow ledge just above the water (3.0 miles : 1,300') to a recently repaired bridge over Twin Creek (3.3 miles: 1,285'). There's a nice campsite just past the bridge.

It scales another steep hill to a high crest with terrific views over a wide bend in the river. Be careful on this narrow and potentially unstable section. The trail drops back to the river and follows it up to a log marking the end of the maintained trail (4.2 miles : 1,403').

Consider taking the Cat Creek Trail on the return, a short 'half-loop' which leads across an attractive hillside forest and re-joins the main trail.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 58.024 W123 07.651 — 0.0 miles: Lower Gray Wolf Trailhead
  • N47 57.776 W123 08.037 — 0.5 miles: Trail levels out
  • N47 57.778  W123 08.145 — 0.6 miles: Cat Creek Trail Split
  • N47 57.520 W123 07.923 — 1.0 miles: Descending to river bottom
  • N47 57.302 W123 08.155 — 1.5 miles: First river access - established campsite
  • N47 57.170 W123 08.799 — 2.0 miles: Trail bends away from river - rises in elevation
  • N47 57.080 W123 08.974 — 2.2 miles: Trail crest - good views (1,458')
  • N47 56.865 W123 09.160 — 2.5 miles: Back at river bottom - another great campsite
  • N47 56.745 W123 09.465 — 3.35 miles : Cross bridge over Twin Creek to campsite
  • N47 56.618 W123 09.898 — 4.2 miles : Trail ends at impassable slide

Worth Noting

  • The Buckhorn Wilderness covers 44,258 acres and is the largest Wilderness Area within the Olympic National Forest. It features steep terrain ranging from 1000' on the Gray Wolf River bottomlands to over 7000' on jagged barren peaks.
  • Notable peaks in the Buckhorn Wilderness include Mt. Fricaba (7,134'), Buckhorn Mountain (6,988'), Iron Mountain (6,950') and Tyler Peak (6,350').
  • 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.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backpacking is permitted within the Lower Gray Wolf River Trail area. Several established backcountry campsites exist with fire rings. Fires are permitted below 3,500'.

Contact the Forest Service for addtional fees or permit requirements.

Fishing Information

Fishing is permitted. The National Forest abides by Washington State Fishing Regulations. License required.

Rules and Regulations

No pass or fee is required to access the Lower Gray Wolf Trailhead

The following is not permitted:

  • Groups consisting of more than 12 persons and/or 8 head of livestock.
  • Starting and/or maintaining open fires, such as camp, cooking and warming fires above 3,500'.
  • Gathering wood for starting and/or maintaining open fires or stoves above 3,500'.
  • Tethering of livestock to trees and/or other vegetation, except for incidental use not to exceed 30 minutes.
  • Possessing and/or transporting unprocessed vegetative matter such as hay, straw, grass or grain. The use of pelletized or certified weed-free feed is required in all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest. This helps prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants.
  • Caching or leaving equipment, personal property or supplies unattended for a period in excess of 24 hours.
  • Possessing or using any form of wheeled vehicle for the purpose of transportation of such things as people, equipment, personal property, supplies and game.
  • Possessing or using a motor vehicle, motorboat, motorized equipment, hang glider or bicycle.

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 5.5 miles on Slab Camp Road to the Trailhead on the right hand side of the road.

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 - from the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge, take State Route 104 to its terminus and head north onto US Highway 101. Drive 16.1 miles and turn left onto Louella Road. Take Louella Road for 1.0 miles and turn left onto Palo Alto. Take Palo Alto Road for 6 miles to a clear junction. Bear right at this junction onto Forest Road 2880 and drive 1.6 miles to an unmarked junction. Turn right at this junction onto FR 2870 which will cross the Gray Wolf River and end at the trailhead 1.8 miles later.

Contact Information

Olympic National Forest

Supervisor's Office
1835 Black Lk Blvd SW
Olympia, WA 98512
Hours: 8-4:30, M-F

Hood Canal Ranger District - Quilcene

295142 Highway 101 S.
PO Box 280
Quilcene, WA 98376
360.765 2200

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"I needed a short backpack trip to shake out the cobwebs, so I decided to spend the night on the lower Grey Wolf, one of my favorite day hikes. Glorious weather, and there has been some work on the trail, so the trail is in great shape. I set up camp in the site just north of the overused 2-mile camp that is right on the river. After I set up camp, I discovered that the city folk who do not have a clue about back country etiquette have been using this bucolic campsite as their crapper. OMG! Who takes a dump at the edge of a great campsite, simply because it is a short distance from their campsite? Apparently, several people at least. If you are reading this, and think it is OK to just crap on the ground, leave your toilet paper on top, and drop a few pieces of tree bark on top of that mess, please go out and get a copy of "How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art" by Kathleen Meyer. Please. Or read about it on the Internet. That was the only downside to this beautiful little trek. The Giant Trees trail is overgrown but still navigable. Please note that the Lower Grey Wolf Trail will be closed the weekend of September 30 / October 1 for fish habitat restoration."
Rik  -  Sequim  -  Date Posted: August 27, 2017


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