The wildflowers along the ridgetop are incredible come late summer.
This trail is the he-man's alternate to the short and easy route to the top of Hurricane Hill. While its paved counterpart winds a cool and easy mile or so from a parking lot on Hurricane Ridge, this bad-boy begins over a mile below the summit, and 6.1 miles away. It is nearly entirely switchbacks the whole way, and is a formidable hike for anyone: it burns your quads on the way up, and jolts your knees and hips on the way down. However punishing the route, once one crosses the treeline and reaches the ridgetops, the views make it all worth it...
This trail is accessed in the Elwha River valley of Olympic National Park. The parking area is just off of the Elwha River road on Whiskey Bend Road. The lot is on the east side of the road, a short way up a hill. A map of the area can be found here.
Summit panorama from the top of Hurricane Hill.
The trail, a 6.1 mile section of the much larger and more extensive Pacific Northwest Trail, begins in the lowland temperate rainforest characteristic of the western half of the park. Right from the get-go, it is switchbacks, switchbacks, switchbacks. The trail climbs constantly and steadily, rarely leveling out and never heading downhill.
The first, and only, glimpse of mountains we had for the first four miles.
After four miles of switchbacks through the forest, the trail finally breaks the canopy and heads up into a vast meadow.
Breaking through the treeline, finally!
[It is still switchbacks at this point, but the views are 100% better] From there it continues up-up-up along the ridgeline towards Hurricane Hill.
Looking towards the summit ridge shortly after breaking through the trees.
The views along these last 2 miles or so to the summit are incredible. One can see the entire north edge of the Olympic Range.
After two miles, the trail joins the paved trail from the Hurricane Ridge parking lot. The last bit to the top is a piece of cake, and the summit is comfortable enough to sit down and enjoy a mid-hike snack and soak in the views.
The way back down is the same, but in opposite order :D
This movie (panning from west to east) was taken in the open meadows you will find not far above treeline:
-Plenty of water [we, my wife and I, brought 3 litres and that wasn't enough]
-Hiking poles/sticks might help
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