There is nothing like sifting through old photo files to make one smile and remember trips of summers past…This is a hike in Olympic National Park here in Washington State. It is reached by driving up from the foothills of Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge on a paved 17 mile road that takes one to an alpine heaven. You then turn onto a narrow 1 lane dirt road that goes to Obstruction Point where the road ends. The views on the 7 or so miles of road are unbelievable – just keep your eyes on the road though 😉
The parking lot at Obstruction Point (on a early fall trip):
Come early in summer when the road is still shut (it has to firm up after the snow melts) and one can walk along this road with no fears. You will share the road with Olympic Marmots and the wind. The views are to the left the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the left, the Olympic Mt. Range.
Ford and I in summer 2006 (if you can call snow/gale force winds “summer”), in front of tiny Pumpkinseed Lake, which sits below the ridge that the Grand Valley Trail runs above on (at around 5750 feet).
The Badger Valley Loop is a hike that isn’t done as heavily as others, yet is world class hiking. I first did the loop with Ford in the early Fall of 2002. The flowers were gone, the grasses grown high in the meadows and it was so quiet. At one point we stood there and listened to the wind quietly blowing and that was it for sound.
I went back in 2005 and did the loop once again with Ford. Rainrunner and Marzsit joined us for the dayhike.
Many park at Obstruction Point and head for the main trail – to the right, which is Grand Valley Trail. The loop has you coming back that way. The trailhead is at 6100 feet.
Ahhh….but more fun to head straight ahead down what is an old road that turns trail. If one continues to stay high they will take the trail to Deer Park, 7 or so miles one way across high alpine tundra (which is an awesome hike, Ford and I did it one year – Kirk dropped us off/picked us up). The trail to Badger Valley cuts off shortly though, heading down, down and down….The high trail you see going is the Deer Park one, heading under Elk Mt. Badger Valley is the sharp drop off heading down.
The start of the descent – it drops from bare tundra to alpine quite fast, the trail is roughly cut through in wide switchbacks. It only takes minutes though to get into green once again.
Looking down into Badger Valley:
Rainrunner in the meadows of Badger Valley. There is a trail as well here that will connect one steeply to the Deer Park Trail.
As you head down you pass a couple creeks on bridges (3 if I remember right….) For the most part you have views though there is one dark section of forest as you finally come to the bottom of Badger Valley at around 4000 feet, it doesn’t last long though 😉 The trail comes to Grand Lake at about 4 1/4 miles, which sits at around 4785 feet elevation – so has many gorgeous trees rimming it. The choice becomes though – do you hook back uphill to do the loop or go see more lakes? The picture was taken as we started uphill, gaining elevation. Moose is next, then Gladys Lake, then finally one comes to Grand Pass at 6400 ft, where one can look way below to Cameron Creek and the deep valley down there. Below lies a number of trails, where one can cross large portions of the park if they had the time and desire.
As one goes higher up the Grand Valley Trail, looking back the ridges start getting bigger, a sea of them, one after another. Eventually you can see The Graywold Ridge, Mt. Deception, The Needles and so many more – all the peaks and ridges of the Eastern Olympics in front of you.
As you head uphill, the trees fall away fast. Subalpine goes to alpine and then to alpine tundra. Expect to see many Olympic Marmots along the way, lounging their fat little orange/brown bodies in the sun. They are found only in the Olympics and are just about the coolest Mamrot around. We saw one on this trip so big it could have passed for a Bobcat (which are also seen in this area – we have seen them in winter at Hurricane Ridge.)
You pass a couple tiny tarns as well while heading up.
Rainrunner nearly to the top of the crest:
As you come to the pass there, at just over 6400 feet, Mt. Olympus is the crown shaped summit in your face.
After you crest the top it is a gentle up and down grade across wide open alpine. You can look down and see a couple remote melt tarns deeply colored.
Ford and Marzsit walking the ridge:
The flowers were awesome on the hike, a lot of Lupine and more.
Near the end you come up to this plateau which feels so open. The wind is ferocious even in summer here!
Back before late fall of 2006 these privies sat in above the parking area. They took them out that year and put in a bland beige model….the kind you see in every state, NF or NP parking lot. Ah well! Those old privies had one of the best views around – surrounded by mountains 360* indeed!
The trip is around 8 miles roundtrip and gains/loses 2550 feet in elevation. One of those rare ‘start high, go low, go back up’ hikes. One has to reserve enough strength to get back 😉
For more information on the mountain trails of The Olympics, see here. There is a reason I love hiking in the Olympics – and this hike is why. 🙂