Hurricane Ridge is one of those places where you don’t just feel like you’re at the top of the world, you actually are – or almost at least! At 5,242 feet above sea level, we were truly in the sky. The mountains disappeared into the distance and we even glimpsed Vancouver Island across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You don’t want to miss this beauty in Olympic National Park!
Hurricane Ridge is located in the Pacific Northwest and is one of the most accessible mountains in the Olympic Mountain Range. It’s only 17 miles from Port Angeles, WA which makes 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 and huge expanses of forest. The trees thinned out as we neared the subalpine mountaintop. After rounding the final corner, a huge parking lot with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range greeted us.
When 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 we made sure to wear jackets (until we got warm from hiking, anyways).
Family-friendly activities at Hurricane Ridge
We decided to 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 circumvented the area. A single afternoon was all that was needed to enjoy these hikes, which ranged from a half mile to one mile in length. The Big Meadow Trail, Cirque Rim Trail, and High Ridge Trail offered spectacular views of the Olympic Mountain Range’s white glaciers and subalpine meadows.
The area was abundant with wildlife but we only spotted butterflies and small marmots. There were 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 subalpine forests, we watched the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkle 5,000 feet below.
The High Ridge Trail
The High Ridge Trail is one mile long and unpaved and 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. To really experience Sunrise Point, hike up there for the sunrise!
We also hiked 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 which makes it a great afternoon adventure.
|Distance||~3.2 km (2 mi)|
|Duration||~2 hrs + 1.5 hrs driving time|
|Difficulty||Easy, with two paved walkways|
|Pricing||A park pass is required to enter Olympic National Park. There are various options, but a standard one-vehicle pass is $25 for a week or $50 for the annual pass.|
|Notes||Hurricane Ridge is easily accessible to everyone and the drive to the Visitor Center is stunning|
|Related Activities||Klahhane Ridge
Lava Canyon, Mt St Helens
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