At the end of Obstruction Point Road, you have a choice of several hiking trails. Unfortunately, none of them offers a short-and-sweet hike, or a journey that’s particularly easy. But don’t let the length of the trails discourage you — it’s rewarding to hike just a fraction of any of the trails. That’s what I chose to do, with the Deer Park Trail.
Just a few steps from the end of the road, you’ll find this sign that serves as a trailhead for Deer Park (7.5 miles) and Badger Valley (.3 miles) straight ahead, and to the right, Grand Lake (3.7 miles), Moose Lake (4.2 miles), and Grand Pass (5.9 miles). Don’t be fooled by Badger Valley — that’s just the distance to the trailhead.
I decided to walk as far as I felt like, towards Deer Park, which ended up being only a mile or so.
The trail began by crossing a snowy patch. Keep in mind, this was in late August. Any earlier in the season, and you’d probably be trudging across snow or ice.
It wasn’t long before the trail became obvious for miles. It would hug the edge of this steep slope, around the corner, and eventually end up near the ridge of that mountain in the distance. You canalmost make out the trail.
No surprises, once I rounded that curve. The trail looks narrow, but in most places it was wide enough to feel safe. There were only a couple of tricky spots, where I was thankful to have a hiking stick to use for balance. It would be a long tumble down the side of the hill, with nothing much in the way to stop you.
Speaking of a long, difficult descent: this is where Badger Valley Trail begins. It splits off to the right, and immediately plunges downhill, through countless switchbacks, losing a lot of altitude in a very short time. Indeed, Badger Valley is probably quite rewarding, but I can’t imagine it being wonderful enough to make descending this trail worthwhile. Okay, maybe descending it would be okay, but the return trip would be miserable.
Deer Park trail continues, straight ahead. I decided I’d hike as far as the saddle, which is partially visible in this photo — just around the other side of that outcropping. This spot would provide my first opportunity to peek over to the other side, and see what I’d been missing.
A side trail takes you the final few steps to the saddle. On either side, the edge of the ridge rises up, and as you can see, there was still plenty of snow on the opposite side.
The opposite side of the saddle looks back to the northwest — an area I had already seen, while driving in on Obstruction Point Road. The road runs along that ridge, on the left.
Click on the image for a larger version.
From the saddle, you have a great view of where you’ve been. Click on the image above for a larger version, and you’ll be able to follow Deer Park Trail (on the right) back towards the trailhead. You’ll also see the zig-zagging Badger Valley Trail dropping down the slope.
Looking forward, it was obvious that the view along Deer Park Trail wasn’t going to change for quite a while. I could see at least a mile or so ahead, and the trail spent the entire time skirting the side of the hill, never getting close enough to the top to allow me to peek over again. If there had been something promising up ahead, I would have hiked a bit farther. But instead, I decided it was time to turn around.
Oh, and there’s one other thing that convinced me to head back. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the flies (or bees?) at the beginning of the hike, but once I reached the saddle, I was swarmed by them, non-stop. They didn’t sting or bite, but they wouldn’t leave me alone. All the way back, I swatted and cursed them — and even once I was in the car, they continued to buzz around. You can probably spot them in the Drivelapse Video of the return to Hurricane Ridge, on the previous page.