Our first real outing in the Olympic Peninsula area took us to the Hurricane Ridge entrance of Olympic National Park. Hurricane Ridge has a number of scenic vistas and interesting areas, but the main point for those who don’t mind a bit of a hike is Hurricane Hill.
The hike to Hurricane Hill starts at the very last vehicle-accessible area from the entrance at Port Angeles. The last section of road is extremely tight and windy. A small class C RV might be able to make it, but I doubt event a 30-foot class A could manage it. We parked at the bottom of the trail and proceeded to head upwards.
The trail climbs through fairly arid areas that can be a rather odd mix of snowfields, dry sandy soil, flowers, meadows and windswept trees. To make it even more odd, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky (no shade) and it was quite hot. We got pretty well baked on the trail. Serves us right for not planning. We didn’t think we’d do the hike, we kind of decided to attempt it at the last minute. :S
The hike is about 1.7 miles each direction and climbs about 700 feet. The trail is dusty and rocky and was absolutely infested with bees for the entire trip. A few signs at the entrance to the trail indicated that if we just kept moving when any of the flying critters investigated us, we’d be fine. I guess they knew what they were talking about, as we didn’t have any issues with them. Just be warned should you go in the summer.
Other than the sun, heat and bees, we really didn’t have any problems and it was well worth the effort. The flowers were really surprising considering the terrain and weather conditions. The views were spectacular and the hike wasn’t that hard until the very last section. Note: If you are actually a real “hiker”, consider our description to be woefully tainted by the fact that we’re wimps and we don’t really hike. A real hiker would probably consider this to be a gently sloping tourist trail. :S
At the top of Hurricane Hill, you can see down to Port Angeles and if it’s clear enough, you can see Victoria, BC across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It kind of feels like the top of the world!
The area is pretty much infested with chipmunks! They’re not at all shy and they will pretty much be running around just about any rock you look at. They were cute, but not very cooperative for the camera. 😉 Fortunately, that wasn’t the only thing we saw…
One of the things I’d been hoping to see on our trip to this area, but hadn’t really expected to see was a marmot. We found one running around a meadow just below the peak! They look like big groundhogs, just furrier. 🙂
We also went to Obstruction Peak, but it was a dusty unpaved road and the end wasn’t that impressive for us. Half the trail was still covered in snow and we’d already done far more hiking than we’d planned, so we just took a look around and headed back home.
If you’re headed here, there’s a nice visitor center and some nice overlooks just off the main road. But, if you’re really looking to see the area, expect to put forth some effort to do so. It’s well worth it, but bring some water, a good hat and sunscreen or a long sleeved shirt. 😉