I made my first trip to Olympic National Park since moving back to the great PNW in mid July. Two of my “cousins by marriage” came to visit and we decided to drive up to Hurricane Ridge for a short hike. Because the weather forecast for the weekend was glum, we decided to go on a glorious Friday, one of the few sunny Fridays we had in Seattle in July. The trip from Bainbridge Island to Port Angeles was about 2 hours, only because I always seem to hit the Hood Canal Bridge in the open position every time I cross the dang thing. We first stopped at the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center. It was crowded and because we did not need to stop for a bear can, we decided to skip it and head strait to the visitor center at the ridge.
Surprisingly busy for a Friday, we pulled into the vast paring lot at the Ridge and went into the visitor center. We had a map, but decided to see what they had to offer. We settled on hiking out to Hurricane Hill. We didn’t understand that we could drive to the trail head, so we walked down the road. We hit the trail head, along with a lot of other people, and started snapping pictures.
We walked about 1.5 miles from the car to the trail head, and then it is a short 1.6 mile walk on very well groomed surfaces (some asphalt) to Hurricane Hill.
We were lucky enough to catch a sight of a little mountain goat. He was hanging out with Mom. The baby was about the size of a large German Shepard. Mom was much bigger. Two adolescent hikers (stupid boys) tried to get close to the pair, and that is when Dad showed up – male mountain goats are the size of a small horse. You really don’t want to mess with these animals! Needless to say, the boys went running.
We did a little rock climbing near the top of the hill – good photo ops!
Then we wandered down the trail to the Elwah ranger station. It lead across a beautiful meadow and then descended into the forest. After about 3/4 of a mile we turned around and headed back to the car.
Once back at the car, we pulled out our picnic. Of course, I only bring the basics: trail bars, water… But the girls brought a feast! Salad, Chicken, hummus dip, spinach artichoke dip, crackers, apples, cut veggies; even the people around us were commenting on our gourmet picnic!
Entry into the Olympic National Park is $25/car (inclusive of all passengers) valid for 7 consecutive days. Or you can buy an annual pass for access to all the National Parks for $80.
We started hiking at the Hurricane Ridge visitor Center at 5,242 ft above sea level and ended at Hurricane Hill at 5,757 ft. Our total milage was about 7 miles. We gained about 700 ft in elevation over 3 miles on the way there. If you decide to hike this area, take the short cut and drive to the trail head! You can find parking at the road end (at the loop) or at overflow parking near a picnic area near the trail head.
There is a small cafe in the bottom level of the visitor center on Hurricane Ridge, and picnic tables with fantastic views. However I always recommend you bring food, clothing for weather changes and extra water. You could easily hike this in sneakers or other comfy shoes. There are several other short hikes you can take from this starting point, so look at the website and plan out your visit.