Reaching the top of a mountain is one of the most empowering moments of hiking. After sweating and pushing yourself for hours, knowing that nothing more than your own two feet brought you to such a beautiful place is sheer joy. Hiking to Klahhane Ridge in Olympic National Park via the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail will push your limits, but it’s also breathtaking and you’ll feel on top of the world!
Hiking to Klahhane Ridge
Klahhane Ridge is located in Olympic National Park and is a well-known crest trail that's not for the faint of heart. The trail winds its way along alpine mountain ridges, dips into forested ravines, and climbs steep, barren mountains for a once-in-a-lifetime hike. The views from the top are unparalleled and offer panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island. There are two trailheads for Klahhane Ridge: the Switchback Trail and the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
The Switchback Trail is the most common and direct route to Klahhane Ridge. It’s a 3-mile (4.8 km) return trip and rapidly ascends 1,421 feet in 1.5 miles. The trailhead is located on Hurricane Ridge Road and there’s a small parking lot on the side of the road, 16.5 miles from Port Angeles.
From the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, the hike to Klahhane Ridge is a 7.2-mile (11.5 km) round trip. This trail, known as the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail, is a great option if you’re wanting to see more of the picturesque panoramas the area is famous for and walk along beautiful alpine ridge tops. While this trail is much longer than the Switchback Trail, it has little elevation gain and is a very scenic route.
Accessing Klahhane Ridge via the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail
The Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail is accessible via the parking lot at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is just over 19 miles from Port Angeles and the paved road is well maintained and easily accessible. Heart o' the Hills Campground rests at the bottom of the mountain and is a great place to set up base. The drive up is spectacular and with every twist of the road, you’ll see countless mountains with snow-capped peaks reaching to the heavens. While the drive up is spectacular, it has nothing on what you’ll experience hiking to Klahhane Ridge.
From the parking lot at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, head to Sunrise Point and take the trail that branches off into the distance. The trail will lead you over the exposed side of Sunrise Point before climbing to the top of new ridges. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the high alpine meadows in every direction.
If it’s a sunny day, the sun will beat relentlessly on the exposed trail and the wind will trick you into forgetting the heat; with little tree cover, you’ll be sweating in no time
What to Expect On the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail
On the first half of the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail, you’ll hike along a beautiful ridgetop trail. You’ll have a spectacular view in all directions and the elevation change isn’t too taxing. Even if you don’t plan to go all the way to Klahhane Ridge, this section of the trail is a must-do. However, there isn’t much tree cover and the trail is exposed to the sun for most of your hike.
Halfway along the trail, you’ll come to a ravine and a plunging set of steep switchbacks bring you deep into it. The ravine is densely forested and is a welcome relief from the direct sun. When you climb back out, you’ll leave behind the ridgetops and instead hike along the side of the mountain.
Near the end of the hike and when the dirt turns red, the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail merges with the Switchback Trail. Prepare for your final ascent to Klahhane Ridge!
The Final, Steep Ascent to Klahhane Ridge
The final leg to Klahhane Ridge can be rough. Thanks to the switchbacks, you’ll gain roughly 820 feet in a little over 1.5 km. It’s a very tiring section and most of the trail is entirely exposed to the sun.
Thankfully, though, once you reach the top of the switchbacks you’ve reach Klahhane Ridge!
Breathtaking Views from Klahhane Ridge
From the summit, you'll be rewarded with almost uninterrupted 360° views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, and the Olympic Mountains. The water sparkles far below and mountain after mountain disappears into a blue haze. From here, you can even see Canada!
Klahhane Ridge connects Mount Angeles and Rocky Peak and creates a large basin. The basin is mostly rocky and devoid of plant life, but you’ll likely see a few small patches of snow, even in the middle of summer! Olympic Mountain Range often receives more than 30 feet of snow in the winter and, because of the high altitudes, it doesn't often entirely melt.
Klahhane Ridge Trail continues on to Lake Angeles and various other trails crisscross the mountain.
The Plants & Animals of the Area
In mid-summer, the slopes are adorned with alpine wildflowers and you’ll see plants like paintbrush, Jacob's ladder, lupine, and bistort. The trees are small but provide plenty of shade – when you find them.
Butterflies are in abundance and larger animals like black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, mountain goats, marmots, and deer wander freely. Always pack bear spray and practice bear safety, just in case.
Information & Trailhead Location
Klahhane Ridge via the Hurricane Ridge to Switchback Trail is a semi-challenging hike that requires proper planning for an enjoyable experience. It offers stunning views the entire 7.2 miles and truly rewards you for your hard work.
|Distance||~11.5 km (7.2 mi)|
|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||Bring plenty of water, sturdy footwear, and first-aid equipment.|
You need to stay hydrated while hiking to Hurricane Ridge. It's a long hike and you'll be exposed to the sun for most of it.
We love hydration water bladders because it's super easy to carry liters of water and you can sip on water the entire time instead of chugging it at breaks. We always stay more hydrated with water bladders than water bottles.