The Perfect Weather For A Hurricane – HURRICANE RIDGE that is!

The Perfect Weather For A Hurricane – HURRICANE RIDGE that is!

 

The view from hurricane Ridge!

Nice with plenty of sunshine! That’s what my phone’s weather report says. And that is just what is needed for a perfect Hurricane! Hurricane Ridge, that is.

Located in Olympic National Forest on the Olympic Peninsula of Western Washington, Hurricane Ridge is one of my favorite places to visit, especially when the sun is shining and the skies are blue. Though it is also a winter-time destination for skiing and snowshoeing, hiking the trails in summer-time offers glorious views! 

It always reminds me of the song made famous by Karen Carpenter- Sitting on Top of the World, because you feel as if all the rest of the world is at your feet. “I’m on top of the world; looking down on Creation . . .”  The Ridge sits about 5200 feet above sea level, and views from a few places on the trails offer glimpses of the sea in the distance. In some places mountains upon mountains fade away from you, in glorious row after row.

View of Dungeness Bay in the distance

 

During the summer you will see mountain meadows full of wildflowers, and wildlife such as deer, bears, and other smaller creatures to be seen.  The deer are so used to the flocks of human visitors, that they are not even fearful, and will come right up close to where you are. One year, our car overheated going up the Ridge road, and the radiator boiled over when we parked at the top. Evidently there is salt in the coolant and the deer could smell it, so they came right up to our car while we were standing there and began to lap it up.  I had to run get a Park Ranger to help dilute it and get the deer to stop so they wouldn’t get sick. 

The road up to the ridge is fairly steep in places, as you can imagine, since it starts at nearly sea-level, and tops out at 5242 feet, so be prepared by filling your radiator with sufficient water and coolant, and watch your radiator gauge on the dashboard. If it begins to overheat, look for a place to pull over and let the car rest and cool off. Enjoy the beautiful views as you wait. 

Once you are to the top, park and plan to stay a few hours.  If you visit in the winter, you will need chains, as they are required to have along in case there is snow on the road anywhere along the way. If you visit in summer, be sure to bring water with you as you will want to hike and partake of the glory. The views are spectacular. Stay on the paths, and keep an eye out for bears.  Do not get too close to any of the wildlife, and do not feed them.  But bring binoculars to see distant wildlife close up, or to focus on the lovely land- and sea- scapes. 

 

As you can see by the pictures, there is a lovely open expanse at the top of Hurricane Ridge, but that open beauty can be deceiving. It may look calm and still in the photos, but it can get quite windy, so bring a light jacket and enough clothing to dress in layers. Hurricane Ridge got its name due to the gale-force winds that sometimes occur up there, where there are few trees to break the force of the storms.  Though those usually occur in the winter, there can be snow at any time of year, so if you plan to hike, wear good shoes fit for the purpose.  Sandals are not advised.

The Visitor Center is staffed by Park Rangers, and offers a Gift Shop, Restrooms and snacks, as well as a balcony facing incredible views, but it has no Restaurant, so make sure to pack a lunch.  There are picnic tables open for use during the summer months, but be sure to clean up and dispose of your trash so as not to endanger the curious wildlife which would gladly come and partake of whatever you leave, with no discernment as to whether or not it is good for them.

There are no overnight accommodations up on the Ridge, so plan your itinerary to suit your style at one of the many options down at the foot of the mountain.  If you are outdoorsy, you may want to go camping.  There are several camping spots nearby, which also afford you the opportunity to go fishing.  If you like the look and feel of a Lodge, try Quinault Lodge near the Quinault Rain Forest; relax at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort with a massage or a soak in the mineral springs; enjoy the elegant beauty of the lakeside Lake Crescent Lodge; or the versatile accommodations at Log Cabin Resort. Camping in the majestic woods of the Olympic National Forest has always been a favorite for my family, but there is something for everyone in this neck of the woods, so explore the Olympic National Park website, and plan your itinerary ahead. 

If you have a couple days or more to spend in the area, there are some other must-sees to include in your visit.  Top of the list on my priorities has always been Dungeness Spit, a lovely point at the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula. It reaches five and half miles into the Strait of Juan de Fuca with a Light House at the end. The strip of land and its flora and fauna is protected by the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, and as such, its beautiful rocks and other treasures are off limits for collectors, so bring your camera and take pictures of them instead.  For this rockhound, not picking up those lovely gems was pure torture, but at least I have the pictures to keep. Check the tide tables before going and try to time your visit at low tide, so as not to have to compete with the driftwood in the middle for walking room.  The ocean throws it up on the highest point of the beach, and as the tide rises, so must you. It is not wheelchair friendly – it is a sandy beach afterall – but if you are mobile, even with the help of walking sticks, cane, or walker, then you will enjoy the flat hike out to the Light House.  Be sure to watch for seals and whales that may be playing in the waters nearby.  Keep in mind it is an eleven mile hike round trip.

 

Boating on Lake Quinault and Lake Crescent provide scenic beauty and water-sport fun. You can rent paddle-boats, canoes and kayaks and hit the water on your own, or sign up for a narrated tour as you explore these beautiful lakes which were carved out by glaciers. As well as hiking and boating, if you are a bicycle enthusiast, there are many trails available, plus bike rental. Check out the Olympic Discovery Trail and Spruce Railroad Trail in particular. 

Thanks to the Pacific Ocean dumping its storms on the nearby mountains, the Olympic Mountain Range and National Park is home to four distinct Rain Forests. The most famous and family friendly is Quinault, where there is lodging, lake activities, hikes, and Rain Forest Tours. Make time in your schedule for a bit of exploring in the Rain Forest. The second is Hoh Rain Forest accessed from the west side of the peninsula, which accommodates campers. It is close to lovely beaches and rocky alcoves on the western shores of the state. Bogochiel Rain Forest is not as well known, but lovely. From the town of Forks, you can access the trail through the moss-covered trees and ferny understory for an unforgettably rich hiking experience. But bring hiking boots and extra clothes to change into, as even on the sunniest of days, the ground and underbrush may be quite damp. The region gets 10 – 14 feet of rain per year.  The least explored and toughest to hike is the Queets Rain Forest. It is said to be wild, remote and lonely with only a handful of visitors each year. 

Port Angeles is the gateway town to Hurricane Ridge and is itself a great place to visit.  Be sure to check out all that it has to offer before deciding how many days to visit this corner of the state.  It may make you change your mind and stay a little longer.  One of our favorite places to visit over there is the Olympic Game Farm, where the animals roam free, and you can see them up close and personal from the safety of your car.  If you bring bread or purchase some at the Visitor Center, you may even be able to feed the animals.  The Washington Lavender Farm is a beautiful spot for fans of the herb in all its glory.  The fields are gorgeous. Whale Watching tours in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Hot Air Balloon rides offer spectacular vistas of the mountains and sea.

Check out my corner of the World from the sea to the sky, out on the beaches and trekking mile high.  You will be glad you did. What is your favorite PNW spot to visit? What are your favorite mountain trails to hike? Please comment below, explore my related posts, and subscribe for more Pacific Northwest itineraries and other travels, to be delivered right to your inbox.

Until next time,

Blessings,

JorgieKae

 

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