Mount Claywood is a magnificent looking peak between the south side of the Lost River valley and the head of the Dosewallips River valley. Its location deep in the interior of Olympic National Park makes it an infrequently climbed peak and a great destination for scenic vistas.
Claywood shares a ridge running north and south from Hayden Pass with the smaller Mount Fromme. It boasts stunning views of the Lost River peaks, Dosewallips valley and peaks, the Elwha area, and the Hayes River area. Excluding Peak 7060, Claywood is the highest peak along the upper reaches of the main fork of the Dosewallips River. Wellesley Peak, Sentinel Peak, Lost Peak, and West Wellesley Peak also share its domain.
From the regal summit one can view many of the major peaks of the Olympic Range. Mount Anderson, West Peak, Mount Olympus, Mount Deception and Mount Mystery are all easily recognizable. Crystal Peak, Wellesley Peak, Mount Meany and Mount Dana are also quite scenic from this viewpoint.
There are two possible approaches to Mount Claywood. The Dosewallips River valley seems to be the best bet. Though the washout adds another 5.5 miles of trail distance it does discourage most of the traffic that one might find in the first 10 miles of backpacking. Actually, chances of seeing anyone else on Claywood, or surrounding peaks, is quite rare. The actual hiking distance from trailhead to summit is close to 22 miles. Hayden Pass to Mount Fromme, then dropping down to the west of Claywood Lake, is the most direct route to the summit.
The second option would be to hike up the Elwha River to the Hayes River guard station. From there a trail to Hayden Pass takes one about 8 miles to a southern approach of Claywood. Ascending the peak from the south before reaching Hayden Pass also rules out crossing snow in early summer. The southern slopes also are more frequented by wildlife then the ridge of Mount Fromme.
Camping in Olympic National Park is $5.00 a night and $2.00 per person.
The Dosewallips Road is washed out about 5 miles from the trailhead. To get to the trailhead at the ranger's station now requires this longer approach on the road. But it does make for less traffic further up the valley, so I say hurray! Keep it a longer approach!
If approaching from the Elwha River side there will also be a $15.00 entrance fee at the main gate. In summer there is usually a ranger at the station for check-in, otherwise self check-in is permitted. If this approach is a bit steep in price then the Dose is the better option for you.
Camping can be done at Dose Meadows, a mere 3.5 miles from Mount Claywood. Camping at Claywood Lake is too rocky to be enjoyable and comfortable. Another possible location is Bear Camp, about 5 miles from Mount Claywood.
When heading to Claywood from the Elwha side it is suggested to camp at the Hayes River Guard Station for a long day hike up to Claywood and back; about a 15-16 mile round trip. However, this gives the Olympic explorer a cross-section of the more lush Elwha Valley, contrasted with the more dry upper Dosewallips. A one day exploration of this variety is well worth the trip!