Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hurricane Ridge: July 23rd, 2010

The Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Hill (more pictures)

You know you’re in an amazing place when there are deer grazing peacefully in the parking lot. Hurricane Ridge, on the north side of Olympic National Park, is an easy drive from Port Angeles – which means it’s crowded with tourists who come for the same reason I did: to see an outstanding 360° panorama of the Olympic mountains. At the end of the road, past the visitor’s center, a short paved trail leads to the top of Hurricane Hill, with views south to the Olympics and north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria and the Canadian Coast Range, the San Juan Islands, and Mt. Baker. On this trip, Mike and I encountered two three-point bucks bedded down not 15 feet from us in a stand of trees, and a doe who grazed nearby as if we weren’t there. Marmots whistled in the cirque below the summit, sunning themselves and foraging in the evening light. The mountains were magnificent, and the meadows were filled with flowers: paintbrush, lupine, western bistort, buttercup, and many more. Hiking back, we said hello to a couple who pointed out two black bear across the ridge, and let us use their binoculars to watch them for a while. I’d never seen bear in the wild – and it goes to show that you can encounter kind, generous people everywhere, including crowded, easily accessible national park trails. Hurricane Ridge isn’t wilderness, but for those with an open mind, anything is possible.

Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 650ft

Region: Olympic National Park
Information: Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula, by Craig Romano.

Notes: National Park entry fee required. Dogs prohibited. Open in summer; winter accessibility varies.

Directions From Port Angeles:
Turn off US 101 near milepost 249 and follow Race Street south 1.2 miles to the Hurricane Ridge Road. The visitor’s center is 17.5 miles away; drive 1.5 miles further to the trailhead.

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