There’s a reason why Hurricane Ridge is the Number One favorite destination within Washington State’s Olympic National Park: Astounding, heart stopping — and easily accessible — grandeur.
(Below: A partial, yet amazing, summertime view of the Olympic Mountain range from the Hurricane Hill trail.)
If this photo were 20 feet wide, you might start to feel the excitement.
Barely 35 minutes from Port Angeles, you’ll find yourself very close to the top of the world, the Olympic Mountain range world, at least.
Your experience begins before you even arrive. Along Heart 'o the Hills Road which takes you from Port Angeles to the Hurricane Visitor Center, you'll find a pull-out viewing area. If the weather is clear, a stop will reward you with an amazing view of Mt. Baker, the Dungeness Spit, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (below).
Even if your only plan is to simply drive to the Visitor Center and its ample parking lot, the drive would be worth it. You’ll find fantastic, nearly 360-degree views. To the south, dozens of glaciated and snow-capped Olympic Mountain peaks stretch the span of your view (see below). A short stroll to the north brings you access to views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and a peak at the town of Port Angeles in the distance.
If you're a power-hiker, you'll find many miles of back-country trails and campsites available to you in season, accessible from the Hurricane Ridge area.
Early summer is springtime high in the Olympic Mountains. You'll find innumerable wildflowers in their seasons. A few of them are pictured below.
There's also wildlife galore. We’ve personally seen deer, marmot, Steller’s jays, hawks, eagles, squirrels, chipmunks, black bears in the distance (thankfully), and the sub-species of grouse that inhabit the Olympic National Park (pictured right).
Pictured below: 1) Half-grown fawn hiding under a fir tree at around 5,700 feet, 2) Olympic marmot, 3) Very friendly little bird.
The trail to the top of Hurricane Hill is partially paved (see below). You'll find the trailhead not much more than a mile beyond the Visitor Center. It's a wonderful hike with great views. We’ve seen folks in motorized wheelchairs on the paved portion of this trail. Just so you know: the paving peters out for the last half-mile or so, as this is where the trail makes a final, steeper, push to the summit.
The trail stretches 1.6 miles one way and gains 700 feet in altitude - a very doable hike for most healthy individuals. Remnants of snow remain on the ground near the trails through August, and possibly all year, depending on the season’s weather.
The National Park Service provides and maintains picnic areas and restrooms at each of the the more popular trail heads, including the Hurricane Hill trailhead.
Below: Hikers along the Hurricane Hill trail.
We hope these pictures will give you some idea of the grandeur that can be experienced at Hurricane Ridge. But nothing can replace being there and being immersed in it for yourself.
2013 Dungeness River Salmon Spawn is underway!
Imagine a wide but shallow streambed filled with spawning salmon! They're here for 2013, and they are nearly bank to bank!
Go check it out - there is easy viewing at the Old Olympic Highway bridge over the Dungeness River.
It'd be nice to not walk in the river - there will be salmon redds (nests) EVERYWHERE, filled with eggs.
Below: The Dungeness River is full of spawning salmon in September, 2013.
Below: a view of downtown Port Angeles from the top of the Laurel Street stairs. The Coho ferry has just left the dock bound for Victoria BC.
Beyond the Dungeness Spit and across the blue expanse of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the snow-capped Mount Baker and the Cascade Mountain Range northeast of Seattle, WA.