Family Hiking at Hurricane Hill

Here’s your challenge:
Most of us know a friend or family member who doesn’t love the outdoors as much as we do. We hike miles of back country trails, find excitement in the obscure and enjoy peak bagging. But our friends? Not so much.
So when they agree to join us for once, we need to plan the day, and choose the right location.

What’s your game plan?
If you pick a trail that’s too safe, it might be lame. You might have a hard time conveying the excitement about the outdoors.
If you pick something that’s on your personal bucket list, you might exhaust them and shock them for life.

You got to pick wisely, my friend.

Last week during our vacation on the beach, I was able to coax my friends to join me on an adventure to Hurricane Ridge and hike the trail to the Hurricane Hill peak.

You reach Hurricane Ridge right out of Port Angeles on the North Side of the Olympic Peninsula. If you’re traveling on Highway 101 heading either East or West, just follow the National Park signs pointing literally up the mountains. Seventeen miles of a windy road takes you past the in-town visitor center, through the official Park entrance and along great scenery with bonus points for a few small tunnels.

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Once a year, hundreds of bike riders crawl themselves up the steep road to the top during the annual ‘Ride the Hurricane’ bike ride. I totally want to do this one year.
The feeling of leaving a bustling small city, driving straight up a mountain and ending up at Hurricane Ridge with gorgeous views of the Olympic mountain is one of my favorite drives on the Olympic Peninsula.

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The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is small compared to similar places at Mount Rainier National Park. There’s no grand old lodge or fancy museum. There is a small gift shop and snack bar, as well as a helpful ranger usually on duty to answer any questions and help make you feel you’re still in civilization. The views are some of the most stunning in the entire Pacific Northwest.

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Hurricane Hill is a safe, paved, and well-marked trail, just shy of 5 km round trip. It’s worth it anytime of the year. From the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center follow the only paved road out of the parking lot heading West. You can drive the 5 min to parking lot and trail head or you can hike it, and add a couple miles to your trip.
This subalpine hike gives you a great feel of a backcountry hike without having to slog a ton of miles before you actually get there. The Hurricane Hill Trail offers spectacular views of the Olympic mountain range and the Elwha River valley for the entire hike. Once you reach the peak, you’re greeted by stunning views of Port Angeles and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the North.
Along the way you can see wildflowers, marmots, deer, and perhaps even mountain goats if you’re lucky/unlucky (you choose).

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Always bring plenty of water on this hike. And be sure to take lots of pictures – the views are always worth it.

Going further:

  • The trail is also the beginning to the Elwha River trail and diverts just before you reach the summit. Walking down the big open meadow as far as you like is a great way to extend the trip by a few minutes or a couple of miles, if you like.
  • Just below the summit there are a few other view points and short trails to explore which can be fun, especially if there are still patches of snow lingering.

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Calendars for 2018, published with love by THE OUTDOOR SOCIETY.

Made in the great Pacific Northwest

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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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