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Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
73 posts
57 reviews
Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Planning a trip to Seattle with a few days at ONP. Most suggestions I have read say to start your trip in Port Angeles area (Hurricane Ridge, Elwha Dam, Crescent Lake) and then head down around to Hoh Rainforest/Rialto Beach area, and on to Quinault. Is there a reason why people suggest doing the trip this way? I just started my research but was thinking of the following pattern - SEATAC to Quinault (via Olympia & Aberdeen). First full day in Quinault - Ruby Beach, sleeping in Forks. Day 2 - Hoh Rain Forest - Cape Flattery, sleeping in Neah Bay. Day 3 - Port Angeles area of the park. Sleeping in PA, or driving to Seattle at night. Saturday - Monday in August. Realize its the busiest time of year. Is it better to visit the park during the week and do Seattle on the weekend? Or, doesn't matter. Everything will be busy either way. Thank you in advance. Need a jump start for my planning. ;-)

19 replies to this topic
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,721 posts
21 reviews
11. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Alas, there is nothing like Hurricane Hill. It occupies a sweet spot between trails that are too short and easy, and trails that are just too demanding, like Klahhane Ridge. There is a network of short, easy trails in the meadow opposite the Hurricane Ridge Visitor. These take you out to Sunset Point and along the higher meadows. You will never be out of sight of the parking lot, but the views are lovely. Expect crowds.

The big questions is, is this worth the hassle and delays of driving up to Hurricane Ridge? The drive from Lake Crescent Lodge is almost 2 hours, in part due to the 20 minute construction delays on lower Hurricane Ridge Road, in part due to backups at the entry station. The drive down the mountain back to Port Angles is 1 hour. In your place, I have to admit, I would not do it.

I'm really sorry, to the point that I have to rant a bit. Conditions for visitors to ONP this year have just been cruel: construction delays along Lake Crescent, construction delays on Hurricane Ridge Road, the complete loss of the Elwha Valley trails, and now the alternate week closures of one of the most popular trails in the park. I feel so bad for people who have planned for months. I just hope they don't take away a bad impression of this lovely park.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,694 posts
8 reviews
12. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Helen you will still get views when you go to Hurricane Ridge. What is most disappointing for visitors is that it is a nice hike. If you want some nice views minus the crowds go beyond the Ridge to the first picnic area. Not as expansive as by the Visitors Center by pretty and peaceful. We took a visitor there Friday. The best hike in the area is the Switchback Trail to Klahanne Ridge. It is harder than the Hurricane Hill Trail as it is steeper and starts out very steep. Not for everyone. Many people do the Sunrise hike above the Visitors Center. Once you get to the top you can hike further. There is nothing wrong with this hike as an alternative. One difference is that it looks down over the road and the Vitsitors Center. People enjoy it.

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
73 posts
57 reviews
13. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Thank you both again! I don't think we will skip the drive to Port Angeles and visiting Hurricane Ridge. Traffic is a way of life for us, we will curse the road, but be happy when we reach our destination. Even if the trail is closed, I imagine the areas that are accessible are probably still incredible. I'll look into the trail you mentioned (Switchback). I also read about another trail a little further out ... they called it Mount Olympus from Grand Ridge. This was the description: To get sweeping views that include Mount Olympus, hike a portion of the Deer Park to Obstruction Point along Grand Ridge. The reason we recommend just hiking part of the distance is the hike from Deer Park to Obstruction Point is a rigorous 15-mile roundtrip day hike.

Instead, do a 5-mile roundtrip out and back that brings you to the highest point on the trail at 6,600 feet right at the turn-around spot 2.5 miles in. That way, you still get the best views of the hike, including of the glaciated Mount Olympus (7,969 feet high) and Mount Cameron (7,170 feet high), without wearing out the soles of your hiking boots.

At the 2-mile point, you will hit 6,600 in elevation at the junction of Badger Valley cutoff. Continue for just about a half-mile further until the trail starts to drop. Turn back here.

I think I'll probably stick with the trails you mentioned because of a description I read about the road that leads to the trailhead. I think it was something like - scary, steep, drop offs in the road. LOL! No thank you. Curious what your thoughts are about this trail. Is this comparable to Switchback?

Thanks again! Have a great night!

~Helen

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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11,721 posts
21 reviews
14. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Whoah! Absolutely no to the Grand Ridge Trail. Deer Park Road is dangerous*, and Grand Ridge is not for casual hikers with children. It's high altitude, very exposed, and far from help. It's best to take that one with a hiking group. Weather can change fast up there, too.

Klahhane Ridge is perfectly safe, but it is probably too much for your family, based on your descriptions of yourselves and the other hikes on your list. Klahhane Ridge is gorgeous, but it is exhaustingly steep for the first 600 to 700 feet, and you still have another 700 to 800 feet to go. If you are stronger hikers than you have indicated, go ahead and attempt Klahhane Ridge, but be warned: it's grueling at first. The trailhead is about 10 minutes below the summit of Hurricane Ridge on your right. It has a sign and a warning not to approach mountain goats (yes, they are dangerous). If you take this hike, bring plenty of water and sun protection, as it is a steep south facing slope. Wear good hiking boots with traction. The trail has been badly eroded by goats, and their are a few open switchbacks that are somewhat narrow and slippery. Wear hats and sunglasses. Total ascent is 1450 feet over about 1.5 miles. That's a good, steep, grade. It is a stunner, though.

*Deer Park Road is a steep, unpaved road with too few pullouts to deal with two way traffic, and there is no place to turn around. Once you get on that road, you are committed. Worst of all, locals take this route often because you don't have to pay a park entry fee to drive it. Most of the locals are as sane as anybody, but a few of them, mainly kids, drive irresponsibly. I often suggest visitors take Obstruction Point Road, and I have never had a problem there, but I would not recommend Deer Park to anybody. It is not as well designed or maintained as Obstruction Point Road, and it's a real terror when it gets wet.

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
73 posts
57 reviews
15. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Glad I asked! I'm surprised because it was mentioned in an article with Hurricane Hill and Shi Shi beach. My assumption was they would be comparable type of hikes. Good example of why you should never assume.

I watched a time lapse video of the drive up Obstruction Point Road. Looks like something we coud handle, but my hands did get a little sweaty as the driver was coming around some of those corners. Will heed your advise and AVOID Deer Park Road.

I also looked at pictures of the Klahhane Ridge trail. It looks steep, but manageable and fun. If we do that trail, do you think it's best to go in the afternoon or early morning?

Thanks again. I hope I'm not driving you crazy! Enjoy your day. ~Helen

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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11,721 posts
21 reviews
16. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

If you want to try for Klahhane Ridge, go early. If you wait too long you will have lines at the entry station in addition to the construction delays. The trail is very sunny and gets warm later int he day. It is simply gorgeous in the morning light, and the animals are more active, too.

I have no trouble with Obstruction Point, and the Lillian Ridge Trail at the end - that's the one to the right, not the left - is lovely and not arduous. You can hike out for an hour until the junction sign where the trail starts dropping to the left, and it is a beautiful hike. However, it is important to watch ahead for oncoming traffic on the road and to use the pullouts, of which there are many. It is a well designed road. Dust can be a problem. When a car passes you in a cloud of dust, pull over, and wait for it to die down before proceeding. The Lillian Ridge Trail should be done in the morning, as early as possible, and it is brilliantly sunny and exposed, so sun protection and water are vital. Wear layers. Weather changes fast up there. You start by hiking up a steepish slope for less than 300 feet, then you reach a beautiful alpine meadow. At the end of the meadow you hike down several hundred feet on a well built rock staircase, then you continue to the ridgeline. This is a terrible wildflower year, unfortunately, so the lupines won't be their usual impressive selves, but there are still some pretty pink paintbrush and some flowering heathers.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,694 posts
8 reviews
17. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

Kaleberg of course has given you good advice. Just wanted to add that you are not driving us crazy. That is what we are here for!

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
73 posts
57 reviews
18. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

I wanted to come back and say thank you for the advise given when we were planning our trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park. We returned a few weeks ago from an AMAZING vacation. You live in a beautiful state and we were so happy to spend some time there. Thanks again for the great tips and helping me to plan a memorable trip for my family!

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,694 posts
8 reviews
19. Re: Reverse Drive from Quinault to Port Angeles

You are welcome. Things like amazing is what we like to hear. I have lived many places including two hours from NYC. Fierce my second visit to Olympic in the early 70’s I pretty much knew that I was destined to live where I could see now capped mountains and some of the most beautiful forests anywhere when ever I felt the need.

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