Hiking Hurricane Ridge – Olympic NP

Port Angeles, WA

One of the most beautiful places in Olympic National Park is a place called Hurricane Ridge.  The Ridge is accessed by way of a 17 mile long road that begins at the main park visitor center just south of Port Angeles.  The road winds its way up to a large parking area (the spot is very popular) and another visitor center.  The parking area is at 5,242 feet, a pretty high location when you consider that Port Angeles is at sea level.

View driving up to Hurricane Ridge

We met Eric and Laurel in the parking lot at 9:30 AM, an early hour for us.  The sight of a pile of snow next to a plow was not very encouraging.

Our plan was to hike a trail up to Sunrise Point, but a check with the ranger in the visitor center revealed that there was still quite a bit of snow on that trail.

 

So we went to Plan B and drove a short distance further up the road to hike the Hurricane Hill Trail.  This trail is about 3.2 miles round trip on a paved trail.  It provides outstanding panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north.

Colorful Lupines add to the mountain views

We did have to cross a few snow banks

The trail goes up along this ridge

Looking back down the trail

The view looking south

We were fortunate to spot some interesting wildlife along the trail.  Our first sighting is the Olympic Marmot.  Olympic NP is the only place where these little guys exist.  Marmot colonies in the park are in decline due to predation by non-native coyotes.

The name of this ridge is an indication that the weather is not always ideal for hiking.  So we were pleased that we picked an absolutely perfect day for our hike.  The sky was clear of clouds, the temperature was in the mid-60s, and the winds were calm.

The four of us found a nice lunch spot on a low ridge overlooking a beautiful mountain meadow.  As we finished our lunch and contemplated our “lunch with a view” photo, two characters walked right in front of us. This brief photo opportunity made it necessary for us to include an unprecedented two lunch pictures in this blog.  We hope you don’t mind.

Lunch with a view – part 1

Lunch with a view – part 2

Mt. Baker 95 miles to the northeast

The high point at the end of the trail is very popular

The snow covered Elwha River Trail

As we hiked back down the trail, we spent some time watching the guy below as he enjoyed a snack in the nearby meadow.

Think we were a little too close to the bear?  The above photos were taken on zoom.  Below is a non-zoom shot.

Returning to the visitor center we were told that there were some mountain goats hanging around the nearby trail up to Sunset Point.  So we crossed some heavy snowbanks and headed up the steep trail.  As we went up the trail we were treated to a great view of Hurricane Hill where we hiked earlier.

Mountain goats are not native to the Olympic Peninsula.  About a dozen goats were introduced to the Olympic Mountains in the 1920s, before the national park was established in 1938.  The goats were placed in the area as an experiment to see how adaptable they would be to the rugged mountains of the Olympics. By 1983, the numbers grew to more than 1,100.  A ranger told us that today they estimate the population to be around 800.

The goats can be a nuisance along heavily used trails and around wilderness campsites because they seek out salt and minerals from human urine, backpacks and sweat on clothing.  They can become aggressive to humans and in 2007 a man was killed by a 370 pound goat in the Hurricane Ridge area. He was trying to protect his wife and a friend when the goat gored him, severing an artery in his thigh.

We were very calm and quiet as the group of goats pass near us (and other foolish hikers) on the trail.

View down to the visitor center

The trail up Hurricane Hill ranks as one of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done and not to be missed.  Stunning vistas surrounded us,  and the chance to see some wildlife just added to the experience.

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33 Responses to Hiking Hurricane Ridge – Olympic NP

  1. Debbie L says:

    Fabulous pictures! But such a sad story to hear about the man being gored by a goat. Otherwise such cool wildlife shots! We haven’t seen any wildlife on our hikes here in Wisconsin. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing….

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Debbie! One of the things we miss when back east is the assortment of wildlife.

      • Debbie L says:

        We’ve sure been on the hunt for it. Aside from the deer and squirrels, we could count on one hand other wildlife. But once we watched a family of otters playing in a pond-that was exciting! 🐾

      • placestheygo says:

        Lucky you to see otter. We’ve been searching for the otter that are suppose to be along the rocky shore here in Port Angeles but haven’t seen any yet. The otter are one of my favorites to watch.

  2. Laurel says:

    We’ve hiked Hurricane Hill twice (in the fall a couple of years ago, and then with you guys) and would do it again tomorrow. We agree that it’s one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve ever done. It really was a spectacular day, and the company was excellent. :-)) Your photos are beautiful and you got AMAZING closeups of the bear!

  3. Life is good isn’t it! What stunning photographs and that’s a hike even I could handle I think! Love your wildlife shots–it’s so hard to hold a camera with the zoom out that far and get good shots–great job!

  4. Ingrid says:

    I adore those mountain goats. It does indeed look like one awesome hike. Nice job!

  5. Susan Bank says:

    What a beautiful hike. So sad to hear that the wildlife are considered a “nuisance” to humans.
    Don’t apologize for too many lunch with a view photos….so such thing in my book!

  6. That and the Maple Pass Loop in North Cascades were my two favorite Washington hikes. Such stunning scenery! You really hit the jackpot on wildlife viewing! We didn’t see a thing when we were there. Had no idea that mountain goats would be so vicious, so I looked it up and apparently it is very rare for one to attack unless they are provoked or feel penned in. A sad story.

    • placestheygo says:

      The park is having a time with the mountains goats, especially a couple of the larger males. There are signs all over to stay away from them. When the rangers know they are around, they head out and shake plastic bags at them. The goats are scared of the plastic bags. We were thrilled to get the opportunity to see them before they were scared off.

  7. We did Hurricane Ridge in 2015 and loved it. We would do it again in a heartbeat. Such glorious scenery.

  8. Sherry says:

    What gorgeous mountain pictures. Love the combination with the lupine. I’ve always thought marmots are cute little things. Sorry to hear the coyotes think they are dinner.
    So let me see, the first lunch with a view had 12 feet and the second had 8. Am I counting right?
    What great bear shots. He has the characteristic hump but the same coloring as our east coast Black Bears right down to the brown muzzle. The black surprised me. I’ve only seen cinnamon colored brown bears. Good job of giving him plenty of space. Add the goats and you had an amazing wildlife day in a stunning landscape. Still can’t get over see ya’ll standing in snow at the end of June.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Sherry! Yes, you got those feet right…I didn’t think about the 12 feet in the first photo…haha! Lots of snow around here in the higher elevations. Makes hiking lots of fun…at times!

  9. Love that you had a day full of wildlife! That’s the best kind of hiking day! The baby mountain goat is adorable!

  10. Jeff Pierce says:

    Last year we had the same issues with snow, but were spared having to take pictures of the mountain goats and bear – did see a deer tho! An awesome hike and your photos bring it to life.

  11. Wow! Looks as awesome as our favorite hike to date, Highline Trail in Glacier National Park in Montana! In a couple weeks, we will be RVing a path similar to the one you have been posting about the past few weeks, through Oregon and Washington. So I’ve been happy to take notes on all the great places you’ve hiked. Maybe the snow will be gone by then.

    • placestheygo says:

      This was a great trail, but I do believe the Highline Trail is in a class of its own. One of our all time favorites, too! Glad to be able to help with your hiking list!

  12. Gay says:

    WOW! Hurricane Trail is definitely on the list. Beautiful scenery and I so love the wildflowers and wildlife. Hate to read the mammoths are in decline. And was surprised to read that the mountain goats are so aggressive…yikes ! Awesome post…looking forward to more !

  13. pmbweaver says:

    Oh my gosh…what a perfect day! I love the beauty of Hurricane Trail. The mountains are gorgeous! What an additional treat to see all the wildlife. Those goats are so dang cute. You four sure found a gem of a hike. Love it!

  14. Looks so pretty! Sent this to my friend who just moved to WA and is looking for hikes!
    Alicia @ GirlonaHike.com

    • placestheygo says:

      Olympic National Park is loaded with hikes of all levels. The problem is how large an area the park covers. You really need to visit each area separately since it is a long drive from one area to another.

  15. You (as in John and Pam) do have a magnet for wild animals! This was a great hike and you had the best weather and clear views. Would love to redo this hike in springtime.

    • placestheygo says:

      Oh, yes, the springtime visit to Hurricane Hill was perfect timing for flowers and animals! And doing it in June before the crowds was wonderful. We were so lucky to have no wind at all for our hike. Add this area to your list for a revisit in later June!

  16. Pingback: Hiking, Biking, and Playing Tourist on the Olympic Peninsula | Oh, the Places They Go!

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