By the Numbers
Three Forks Ascent is brutal otherwise it's a rolling profile
Hiked the loop clockwise through the woods and down to the impressive, fast moving Gray Wolf. The trail is in great shape and the numerous river and creek crossings were made uneventful by the bridges. There were a few blow downs but nothing requiring significant effort.
After a long walk through the woods, protected all the while from the sun, it was on to the Three Forks ascent. It’s a tough climb with numerous switchbacks and steady elevation gain. The effort culminates in wonderful mountain views, sunshine, and wildflowers at Deer Ridge. From the ridge it’s an equally steady (read: brutal) descent all the way back to the trailhead.
I really enjoyed the hike as you get a little bit of all the wonderful parts of the Olympics: woods, river, mountains, flowers, lots of climbing, and steep trails. My two highlights were certainly the quiet sitting on a rock looking out to Baldy, Gray Wolf, and Mount Clark and an owl flying right in front of me as I hiked through the woods on the descent to the Gray Wolf Trail.
Hike the loop clockwise and you get the reward at the end; hiked counterclockwise the mountain views are over early but the ascents and descents are more gradual on the way back to the trailhead.