When you visit the Hurricane Ridge area of Olympic National Park, your first objective should be to hike the excellent Hurricane Hill Trial. It’s a 3-mile round-trip that’s easy to hike, and it ends with an incredible view that fills your peripheral vision with mountain peaks, and a view that stretches to Canada.
Since I hiked up Hurricane Hill during my 2004 visit to Olympic National Park, I decided I wouldn’t hike it again on this trip. However, I discovered it’s easy to piece together the trails near the visitor center into a satisfying route. The only thing missing is solitude — since this is a popular, and easily-accessible area.
Head up the small hill, on the opposite side of the parking lot from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. It’s just a short jaunt to the top of the ridge, where the miniscule effort pays off with this view. From here, you’re looking north, towards Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Canada’s Vancouver Island.
You’ll also have a nice view of Hurricane Hill. The trail ends at the highest point, giving you an even better view north (and in every other direction).
From the parking lot to the top of the ridge, you’ll be following the Big Meadow Trail, and its likely that along the way, you’ll meet some of the meadow’s residents.
When you reach the ridge, turn right, and you’ll be on the Cirque Rim Trail.
Around the time you reach this old, defunct ski lift, it’s time to turn from the Cirque Rim Trail onto the High Ridge Trail…
… which provides a brief, uphill challenge. Don’t worry, the views keep getting better as you gain altitude.
At the far end of the High Ridge Loop, you’re presented with a couple of options. If you have plenty of time, you could venture out the Klahhane Ridge Trail — the ridge is 3.8 miles away. Or, for a much shorter walk, head out to Sunrise Point. It’s only 1/10 of a mile to the dead-end…
… and along the way you get to balance atop the narrow crest of a hill…
… while looking down at the road that brought you up to Hurricane Ridge.
Look over the other side of the ridge, and you’re looking northwest.
Great views abound at Sunrise Point, in every direction…
… including looking back the way you just came. And since it’s a dead-end trail, you’ll need to backtrack along the ridge, then finish the High Ridge Loop, to get back to the parking lot.
I’m fairly certain that the Klahhane Ridge Trail ends somewhere amongst those peaks — so it definitely looks like it would be a worthwhile hike, if you have a few hours to devote to it.