Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic NP, 6/30/2016

After spending time at the coastal region and temperate rain forest at Olympic National Park, we were anxious to get a closer look at the mountains. From Port Angeles, where we are staying for a week, it is about 45 minutes driving time to Hurricane Ridge

Our first stop was the Olympic National Park Visitor Center that is located along the way to the ridge. 

Rangers are available to provide information about the park (camping, hiking trails, wilderness passes, etc.) and there are exhibits about the entire park here. Federal lands (the Olympic National Park and Olympic Forest) as well as 9 Native American reservations (although most of them quite small) comprise most of the Olympic Peninsula. 

Behind the visitor center is a historic cabin built by a homesteader, Beaumont. He and his family lived in it for 40 years before being moved to this location.

It is about 19 miles to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center where there is a large parking lot and multiple trail heads. The Visitor Center has exhibits, a cafe, large gift shop, and a lovely two-story deck at the back to enjoy the spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and deep valleys.

The tallest mountain in the range is Mount Olympus at almost 8,000' with 8 glaciers (although all of the glaciers in the park are melting at an alarmingly rapid rate). The western slopes of the Olympic Mountain range are the wettest place in the contiguous 48 states getting on average 240" rain annually.

From the Visitor Center we hiked about 3 miles on the well-marked Meadow Trails (Cirque Rim Trail, Big Meadow, Sunrise Point, and High Ridge Trail). Below is a view of Unicorn Peak, Unicorn Horn and Griff Peak. The Griff Fire of 2003 damaged the forest. 

The Hurricane Hill Trail (1.6 mi one way) follows the ridge to Hurricane Hill (5,757'). From this point we also got our first view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver in the distance. 

During the winter months this is a popular ski and snow shoeing area. Note the black-tailed deer underneath the Ski Patrol hut. We saw many of them along the trails. 

We hiked a spur trail up to Sunset Point where we had even more spectacular views to the north of Port Angeles, the strait, and Vancouver. 

Along the windswept path are lots of interesting plants that cling to life here. 

Showy Polemonium (aka Jacob's Ladder) and Yarrow

Avalanche Lily

Mountain Owl-Clover and Broadleaf Lupine

Scalloped Onion

As we were leaving the park, we encountered this family of three deer. The little ones were so adorable!

If you visit Olympic National Park, this is one of the must-see places where you can get great views of Mount Olympus, glaciers, and snow-capped mountains. Admission to the park is $25/vehicle for a 7-day pass. Our $10 Senior pass gets us into all national park sites at no additional charge (the best bargain in the country). You have to be 62 years old and a US citizen to purchase one (available at any National Park and other National Park Service locations).

Website:  www.nps.gov/olym

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