At 5,242 feet above sea level, the mountains at Hurricane Ridge disappear into the distance and we glimpse Vancouver Island across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We feel like we’re at the top of the world!
Located in the Pacific Northwest, Hurricane Ridge is one of the most accessible mountains in the Olympic Mountain Range. It’s only 17 miles from Port Angeles, WA, making it a great afternoon adventure. It’s a year-round destination for hikers, skiers, and snowboarders and is one of only three remaining ski areas in a US National Park. It often receives over 30 feet of snow in the winter and it’s common to find snow as late as July.
Driving from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge
The drive from Port Angeles to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Centre at the top of the mountain takes roughly 45 minutes. It was a windy, uphill drive that gave us spectacular views of snow-capped mountains; the forest thinned out as we neared the sub-alpine mountain top. After rounding the final corner, a huge parking lot with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range greeted us.
As we stepped out of our car, there was a noticeable drop in temperate and heavy winds. Hurricane Ridge is aptly named, with documented winds as strong as 75 mph! We didn’t worry about being blown off the mountain though because they usually aren’t that strong. Even though it was sunny, it was chilly (even in August!) and I wore my favourite spring jacket.
Family-friendly activities at Hurricane Ridge
We decided not go to the Visitor Center but I wish we had. It has maps of the Olympic National Park, exhibits, washrooms, a gift shop, and even a restaurant. The second level has in-depth exhibits about the habitats of the area and a short film that’s available upon request. The Visitor Center is open daily during the summer and weekends throughout the rest of the year.
Instead of visiting the Visitor Center, we enjoyed the well-traversed, family-friendly hikes that circumvent the area. A single afternoon is all that’s needed to enjoy these hikes, which range from a half mile to one mile in length. The Big Meadow Trail, Cirque Rim Trail, and High Ridge Trail offer spectacular views of the Olympic Mountain Range’s white glaciers and sub-alpine meadows.
The area is abundant in wildlife, but we only spotted butterflies and small marmots. There are interpretive signs along the way and they taught us about the plant life at Hurricane Ridge.
The Big Meadow and Cirque Rim Trail
The Big Meadow and Cirque Rim Trails are fully paved, wheelchair accessible trails that meander through beautiful meadows. These easy, mostly flat trails are about a ½ mile long each and begin at the Visitor Center. As we wandered through the meadows filled with wildflowers and gazed at beautiful sub-alpine forests, we watched the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkle 5,000 feet below.
The High Ridge Trail
The High Ridge Trail, one mile long and unpaved, is more challenging than the others. We wandered through the beautiful meadows and after climbing a steep hill, were presented with stunning panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range.
As we neared the middle of the loop, we had the option of branching off to Sunrise Point or Klahhane Ridge. The Sunrise Point trail is only a short walk up the ridge and we definitely recommended it. For an even greater experience, hike up there for the sunrise!
We also took the Klahhane Ridge trail, but it’s a longer 7.2 mile hike and we don’t recommend it for families with young kids. It’s a great hike, but not for the faint of heart.
Information & Trailhead Location
If you don’t have much time to spend in the Olympic National Park, you’ll definitely want to check out Hurricane Ridge. It’s extremely easy to get to, is family-friendly, and, best of all, offers amazing views for little effort. It’s only 17 miles from Port Angeles, WA, making it a great afternoon adventure.
To see more photos of Hurricane Ridge, visit our SmugMug gallery.
Distance: ~ 3.2 km (2 miles)
Duration: ~ 2 hrs + 1.5 hrs driving time
Difficulty: Easy, with two paved walkways
Notes: Hurricane Ridge is easily accessible to everyone and the drive to the Visitor Center is stunning
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