August 12, 2013 by Deborah W. Trotter
I have a hiking goal for the year, and I’m working on it, but mostly what I did at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park two weeks ago was take photographs and inhale this stunning alpine panorama just a 17-mile drive up from the coast at Port Angeles, Washington. You wouldn’t really even have to get out of your car to enjoy the full benefit of the views of the Olympic Mountains from the Ridge.
There are several longer trails that start from there, but we had already taken a hike that morning in another part of the Park, so just to get a further taste of this top-of-the-world feeling at only a little higher than 5,200 feet, we opted to walk the Cirque Rim Trail, an easy .75 mile loop with an asphalt surface and very little elevation gain.
To take this trail, you climb slightly uphill from the parking lot, and soon you can see the view from the other side of the Ridge. The hillsides there are a haven for lupine,
you can see all the way across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, British Columbia, and beyond,
and you walk past the ski patrol chalet and the top of the Poma lift, part of a privately run ski area that operates at Hurricane Ridge in the winter.
You finish the hike by returning to the parking lot with the Olympic Mountain horizon to the south.
Hurricane Ridge got its name because 100 mile per hour winds can shriek through the area from the Pacific Ocean and the Strait to the north in the winter. I have never been one who can well endure frigid weather, so I’m happy we visited on a mostly clear summer day with temperatures in the 60’s. Added benefit: the drifts of yellow wildflowers lighting up the sides of the road for the few miles below the Ridge are only there in summer.