Wilderness Travel

Pond in Wonder Mtn. WildernessWilderness provides opportunities for solitude and self-discovery in some of the forest’s most magnificent and remote locations. These opportunities come with unique challenges. Plan ahead and Prepare! Adequate trip planning and preparation helps you to accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while minimizing damage to the land.

Wilderness Rules & Regulations

Special regulations apply in all Wilderness areas on the forest. Trip planning needs to include education and understanding of what is and is not allowed in the Wilderness area you plan to visit.

Wilderness practices to minimize your ecological impact 

  • Campsite Selection – Camp on existing bare ground in rocky, sandy, or forested areas. Avoid areas with vegetation such as meadows. Camp at least 200’ away from lakes, streams, and rivers. Camp out of sight of trails and other camps, if possible.
  • Campfires – A lightweight stove is preferred in Wilderness – it is efficient and leaves no scar on the land.  If you do make a fire, keep it small – don’t burn anything larger than what you can break with your hands. Never leave the fire unattended and thoroughly douse it with water before leaving camp. Note: Campfires are prohibited above 3,500 feet elevation.  
  • Waste Disposal – Always stay at least 200’ away from water sources
    • Human waste – bury it in a 6-8” hole, use available restrooms, or pack it out
    • Fish entrails – bury in a 6-8” hole
    • Food waste – pack it out
    • Wash water – bury it or disperse it away from water sources
    • If you packed it in, PACK IT OUT
  • Group Size – In the Olympic NF Wilderness areas the maximum allowed group size is 12
  • Hiking – When hiking on a trail, stay on the trail. When hiking off-trail, hike on firm surfaces such as rock, to avoid leaving a path that others might follow.  Avoid meadows, marshes, and other fragile areas.

Permits & Passes

No permit is needed to visit Olympic National Forest Wilderness areas. A recreation pass is required at some trailheads.

Trip Preparation & Packing


  1. All forest visitors are encouraged to notify family or friends of their trip itinerary including their expected return schedule. 
  2. Remember: you can't count on cell phone coverage in remote areas!

Ten Essential Items for EVERY trip

  1. Map and compass
  2. Flashlight and batteries
  3. Matches, candle or fire starter
  4. Sharp knife
  5. First aid kit
  6. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent
  7. Mirror and whistle
  8. Raingear and extra clothing
  9. Water
  10. Extra food - high energy snack such as chocolate bars or meat jerky

Drinking Water – Carry plenty of water as well as a suitable water purification system. All water taken from lakes or streams should be boiled, treated with purification tablets, or filtered.

Proper Clothing

  • Non-cotton clothing that will wick moisture away from your skin
  • Layers, to adjust to changes in temperature 
  • Rain gear
  • Stable footwear such as hiking boots

Suitable Equipment – A waterproof tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and a small lightweight stove with extra fuel

Personal Gear – Medications, toilet paper, water bottle


Pets are welcome in Olympic National Forest Wilderness. 

  • Pets must be kept on a leash or under control, and quiet
  • Pet waste must be buried or packed out


Cougars, goats, and black bears are common on the Olympic Peninsula. Read the following information for important safety tips: Cougar Country (PDF), Bear Country (PDF), and Goat safety information.

Learn more about Leave No Trace ethics at www.lnt.org


  • Follow Us on Twitter Link opens in a new window