Route: Press Traverse (WA)

Washington, US
45 mi
Vertical Gain
8,500 ft

Jessica Kelley posted this well-known route:

The Press Traverse is a relatively well-known north-south route across the Olympic Mountains, first completed by European explorers in 1890. These explorers were sponsored by the Seattle Press, and therefore their trip was called the Press Expedition, and their route became known as the Press Traverse. It took the original Press Expedition six months to blaze a trail through the heart of the Olympics.

The modern Press Traverse is 45-50 miles long, with 7200 – 9100 ft of elev gain (GPS vs. Strava). Low Divide is the highest point on the route, at an elevation of ~3650 ft. This makes the Press Traverse a great choice during a year like this, with the high country buried under a healthy snowpack. That said, there are several river fords along the Press Traverse that can be tricky, especially in the midst of early summer run-off. In addition, thanks to the long winter, the higher sections of the route are still holding snow, even though they are at a relatively low elevation.

Starting from the north, the route begins at the Whiskey Bend TH and follows the Elwha River to Low Divide (3602') and then follows the North Fork Quinault River.

Note that the north TH is about 600' higher than the south TH, but most people feel it will be faster to run south-to-north due to terrain.

GPS Track


I’m very excited to announce my intentions to attempt a new women’s FKT with my good friend Riquelle Weaver, with great respect for the women who set the record for the Press Traverse in July of this year. We will begin on the morning of September 21st at the North Fork Quinault River Trail and hope to reach Whiskey Bend by evening (S to N). We will carry all food supplies ourselves and will refill water using natural resources (and filters). We will document our journey using a Garmin InReach, Strava, and also a GPS capable watch. We will take many pictures and, rain permitting, some of them might be pretty! We will provide metadata and a write-up of our attempt as soon after completion as possible.

Happy trails! 

Carrie Espasandin

Due to an ill-timed injury, Riquelle and I will be postponing our attempt until Saturday, September 29th. Same plan as detailed above. 


I have to admit, I'm smitten by this trail! I'll be going solo on the trail this Friday, July 26th, using trail beta generated by some friends who recently ran north to south. I'll start at the Quinault side and end at Whiskey Bend that evening, carry my own food and water (plus filter), and will record my track using a Garmin watch plus pictures. 

Happy Trails!