Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Olympic National Park--Hurricane Hill Trail

usbackroads destination--Hurricane Hill Trail, Olympic National Park

We looked at the weather forecast and the National Weather Service announced that summer would show up for a week or so in western Washington.  We quickly drove over to the Olympic Pennisula to catch some views.  And the place to catch those views is Hurricane Ridge inside of Olympic National Park.

For those of you more interested in a usbackroads destination we recommend the Deer Park Road leading to the Deer Park Overlook.  It was a good gravel road twenty-five years ago so we suspect it probably is in better shape now.  However, we had never been to Hurricane Ridge so decided to head in that direction this year.  Scenery is almost identical at both sites.

The road to Hurricane Ridge is double lane and easily driven up to the visitor center.  The visitor center is no great shakes AND the cafeteria there does NOT have ice cream!!

So we quickly took the 1.5 mile road to Hurricane Hill trailhead.  From there the trail goes 1.6 miles to the top of Hurricane Hill for a spectacular view of the Strait of  Juan De Fuca.

As we left the visitor center the skies were sunny and blue with just the right amount of cumulus to add a bit of white to the sky.

The trail was rather scenic passing through open parklands and stands of timber.  The trail is mostly up, but there are long flat stretches where you can catch your breath.

After this point in the trail the view to the south was blue the view to the north was gray.

As we approached the top of the hill we could tell that the gray was slowly moving in on the blue.

The photo above shows the exact transition point.  Yes, you can see the fog moving across the landscape from right to left.  As always you can click on photo to enlarge and show full size on the screen.

Now views in western Washington tend towards gray in many cases.  I believe I visited Mt. Rainier National Park five times before I saw the mountain.  In those cases, I got to read and see a black and white sketch of the mountain  while viewing a wall of gray.  I am pleased to report in the past twenty-five years the National Park Service interpretive program has made significant strides in enhancing the visitor experience.

Yes, now when you visit a western Washington National Park with a scenic vista there is a COLOR photograph showing what you are missing when viewing the wall of GRAY.  Much better than those old drab interpretive signs.

Scenic overviews in western Washington are a ZEN experience.  So much so that even when you pick the TWO days of summer in western Washington you can still get the WALL OF GRAY.  Normally, the WALL of GRAY is the boundary between eastern and western Washington and resides on the Cascade Crest.  But for this visit, we were lucky and found it on the first ridge in from the Straits.

Such stunning scenery calls for a stunning lunch and we headed over to Lake Crescent Lodge for lunch overlooking the lake.  Just past the park entrance you can take the Little River Road and have a usbackroads experience back to Highway 101.  Good gravel and and single lane paved road that connects with 101 and then Lake Crescent.

The good news is that they know how to cook seafood at the Lake Crescent Lodge.  We had mussels and Dungeness Crabcakes.  The crabcakes were much better than the east coast crab, but the mussels were the highlight.  Oh, the house wine is Maryhill Winery from just outside Goldendale.  Here is more information on Maryhill Winery and Goldendale.  We were impressed that they picked Maryhill as their house wine.

The views from Lodge are typical of the Olympics and it is worth the short walk to the lake to view its crystal clear waters.

We did see some blue sky on our visit to Olympic National Park.  A most unusual event.  Check with the weather service and pick the two days of summer for your visit.  It is worth it just for the sunset views.


Carol K said...

Good thing you get a real summer in Wentachee! I enjoyed reading about your trip even though it included some gray skies. But no ice cream at Hurricane Ridge? Hard to believe! ;)

Vladimir Steblina said...

Well, the worst of the hike was that I told Susie that "in my professional opinion, it will be fogged out up there." Her reply was that now that I am retired I "have no professional opinion".

If you look at the photo of her standing there it was NOT photo altered in any manner. Her in the sunshine and a big gray wall in the background.

Their freezer broke and they refused to fix it. I was going to complain to the NPS. Concessionaire's are suppose to provide a public service AND that includes ice cream!!