Visiting Hurricane Ridge is easy. Hurricane Ridge is the one mountainous area in Olympic National Park with a parking lot, meaning you can drive up into the Olympic Mountains, rather than laboriously climbing them on a week-long backpacking trip. Hurricane Ridge is the Alps of the Northwest, with snow-topped peaks, summer wildflowers, and views in every direction. So if it’s a little windy now and then, who’s complaining?
Bonus, Hurricane Ridge is accessible in all seasons. The rest of Olympic National Park is basically the Hall of Mosses over and over again, with rain forest jutting up against ocean beaches. Here, you get snow in winter and wildflowers in summer. We love those things!
What to Know About Hurricane Ridge
- Hurricane Ridge is in Olympic National Park, about 18 miles from Port Angeles, Washington.
- Located at 5,242 feet altitude, the weather is unpredictable and it is prone to high winds.
- From Hurricane Ridge you can view the peaks of the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the shores of Canada.
- This area has beautiful short hikes perfect for families.
- Hurricane Ridge is a year-round destination with wildflowers in summer and snow in winter.
- In addition to hiking, it is open for snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding in the winter.
Where to Hike at Hurricane Ridge With Kids
Hurricane Ridge is a perfect place to “hike” with strollers or tiny humans. It has two paved trails that are under a mile and wind through a sub-alpine meadow: Big Meadow Trail and Cirque Rim Trail. From these trails, you get stellar views of the Olympic Mountains on one side and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canada on the other side — on sunny days. (On cloudy days, you get fog. And clouds. And gray).
From Cirque Rim, a 0.5-mile unpaved, steep loop climbs up the High Ridge Trail for even better views, and offers the chance to “climb a mountain” for little kids.
These are the first trails you see from the Hurricane Ridge parking lot by the visitor center, but it’s worth driving past the visitor center and on to lesser visited pastures. Keep going on Hurricane Hill Road and you will find a couple more trailheads, with more challenging trails that wind along the ridge.
Hurricane Hill Trail is a popular 3.2-mile round-trip hike that is worth stopping for. You don’t have to do the entire hike to appreciate the grandeur of walking along the ridge trail, which is unlike the earlier meadow trails. It’s more of an actual “trail” than the paved paths through the meadow, and less suitable for toddlers or impulsive kids (there are steep hills), although I have seen trail-ready strollers here.
For more serious hikers looking to explore Olympic National Park and to hike 10 miles, there is a trailhead on the road up to Hurricane Ridge for Switchback Trail, which is a steep trail leading up to Klahhane Ridge, which leads to Heart O’ the Hills. Switchback Trail will also lead you on a spur off to Hurricane Ridge. It is a four-mile hike, but steep.
When to Go to Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge, aptly named for the whipping winds that blow through this area, is rarely warm — high temperatures in the summer are 75 degrees Fahrenheit if you are lucky, but on a sunny day in the summer, it’s stunningly beautiful. Summer is great. Go in summer.
From June to August, you’ll see wildflowers galore and plenty of deer and other critters. A clear, sunny day is a must if you want to see those famous Hurricane Ridge views of the Olympic Mountain peaks, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the not-so-distant shores of Canada.
In the winter, when Hurricane Ridge is covered in snow, it is open to skiing and snowshoeing as well as sledding. However, the road is only open on Friday through Sunday. Even then, if the weather is bad and the steep road is considered unsafe, then it may be closed.
Be sure to check the National Park Service’s website for closure information before driving up there in the winter. If you’re planning on visiting in winter, be sure to have chains for your tires. While roads everywhere below Hurricane Ridge will be perfectly fine, these roads can get suddenly icy and terrifying.
How to Get to Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles. To get there, if you’re arriving in Port Angeles driving west on 101, take a left on S. Race Street in the middle of town. This road turns in to Hurricane Ridge Road. Just follow it until you reach the National Park Service ranger checkpoint, and then head up the mountain.
You will need a National Park Pass or to pay a fee to enter Hurricane Ridge.
And While You’re There….
You didn’t drive all the way to Port Angeles, Washington, to JUST to see Hurricane Ridge. (And yes, you drove; there’s no other way to get there besides motorized vehicle, and public transportation is pretty much non-existent).
So before you go, check out:
- The ultimate guide to Olympic National Park
- The best hikes for kids in Olympic National Park
- The best beaches in Olympic National Park
- And where to stay in Olympic National Park while you’re there!