Tucked away in the northeast corner of the Olympic peninsula is Graywolf Ridge with its 7218 foot peak standing out as the highpoint of Clallam county. Not seen from any highway as neighboring peaks and ridges effectively block it from sight, it is a peak that requires quite a bit of effort to get to but once the summit is attained, a spectacular view of the surrounding area is open before the climber. A great view of Mt. Olympus is available as one looks west and Mt. Baker looms large over Puget Sound to the N.E. To the south is a jagged range of peaks, peaks that beckon to the climber by their sheer beauty.
Getting ThereFrom Seattle, head up I-5 to Edmonds and take the Edmonds Ferry across to Kingston, a delightful chance to experience the Washington State ferry system. From Kingston, on state highway 104, follow signs that will lead you to the Hood Canal bridge. Cross the bridge (still on 104) and hook into U.S. 101 and head north as it heads for Squim and Port Angeles.
From near the entrance to Sequim Bay State Park (just east a bit) on US 101, turn south at the sign to "Dungeness Trail". Drive one mile to the T and turn left onto Palo Alto Road. (Palo Alto Road also connects directly to US 101 further west near Sequim.) Drive this paved road for four miles until you come to a gravel road signed "Dungeness Forks Campground" and turn right (FR 2880). Its about one mile to the campground, which you will pass on the right, continue on 2880 past the campground until you reach the junction with FR 2870. Stay left at this junction. Then at the junction with FR 2860, stay right and drive 2860 to a signed junction indicating that the Dungeness Trail is 2 miles further. At this junction turn right on 2860-120. Drive this road to the end (about two miles) There is adequate space to park at a clearing on the left just prior to reaching the bermed roads end. The trail takes off from the end of the road, heading westerly as it drops down to a creek crossing. See trail description below.
The trail - Thanks to Ken Jones for this description:
After the creek crossing, you can follow the old road as it switchbacks 1.7 miles, or look for an unmarked connector trail on the right about 200 yards past the creek crossing. In either case, you will end up where the old road turns sharply left around a ridge at about 3550 feet. Here the unmarked "Upper Maynard Burn Trail" goes more or less straight up the ridge to about 5400 feet, then into a meadow (this trail is not on the USGS map, but is on the locally produced "Custom Correct" and "Green Trails" map series). For efficiency, leave the trail and go up the ridge to Baldy, then it's an up-and-down ridge run to Gray Wolf Ridge's summit at 7218'. We went out into the stunningly gorgeous meadow on the way up - it's a bit longer, but the flowers were worth it.
Estimated gain: 4100' net , 5500' total RT.
trail drops to Mueller Creek: 3140';
Then its necessary to go over the summit of Mt.Baldy at 6800 and drop down to a saddle between Baldy and Graywolf
at 6260 before the climb up to Graywolf's summit at 7218'
As you can see from Ken's description, this is one of those efforts where elevation has to be regained in both directions and adds about 1400 feet overall. Mileage for the RT is around 10-11. On a hot day, bring water as we found no water sources after the first stream crossing.
Red TapeNo NW forest pass needed nor is there a wilderness permit required.
When To ClimbThe best time of year would be June to late October. Snow conditions later on might make this one hazardous due to the steepness of the slopes.
You can camp at several places near the trailhead.
1. At the trailhead itself although not a regular camping area. Just find a reasonable spot and throw up a tent or camp in your vehicle but please practice LNT ethics.
2. Dungeness Forks Campground. Fee required. 10 spots
3. Squim Bay State Park. Located on U.S 101 a few miles east of Squim (the town). The turnoff to the TH is located very near the entrance of this state park.
Mountain ConditionsThe closest towns of any significance are Port Angeles and Squim. Squim sits in the "rain shadow" which means it gets less rain than neighboring Port Angeles so weather at Port Angeles is more indicative of what is happening higher up in the mountains above it.
Click on PORT ANGELES to get the current weather conditions
Another helpful resource is the Olympic National Park web page. (360) 565-3131.