John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Angeles trail, Klahhane Ridge/Hurricane Ridge area, O.N.P. on 1995-05-28
Location: Mt. Angeles trail, Klahhane Ridge/Hurricane Ridge area, O.N.P.
People: (including myself): Pam
My Alt. Real Alt.
Start: 1:15 5220 5230
Victor Pass: 4:10 5880 5880
Leave: 4:50 5900
Trail Junction: 5:20 5180 5100
Out: 7:00 5260
The weather was gorgeous - as close to perfect as one could get. It was
sunny and warm but not too hot, with clear views of all the mountains.
Originally, we debated whether to hike along the Mt. Angeles trail or to
drive out to Obstruction Point and do the Grand Pass/Badger Valley Trail
loop. Upon arriving at the Hurricane Ridge visitor center, we found that
the decision was already made for us as the road to Obstruction Point was
still closed (snow). The road is normally opened (according to a ranger)
mid to late June. We thus decided to do the Mt. Angeles trail as far as
Victor Pass and perhaps doing the Hurricane Hill trail (an easy 1.4 mile
trail gaining 750 ft) afterwards. It was good that we decided to do it in
this order, as we ended up not having time for Hurricane Hill.
I had wondered whether the deer would still be as unafraid of people as
they were the last time I was here. We quickly discovered that they were
by seeing several deer wandering around amidst the chaos of a Memorial day
crowd. This was exemplified by a little girl chasing one of the deer all
over the meadow (despite signs asking people to please stay on the paved
trails). The deer was nonchalant, staying just ahead of the girl.
The Mt. Angeles trail starts from east side of the parking lot where one
first climbs over a small hill. The hillside was still snow covered so Pam
and I elected to don gaiters. The snow on the hillside was completely
trampled in footsteps from the myriad of people hiking up to the top of the
hill. However, as we got further from the visitor center, the concentration
of people dropped considerably, thus we enjoyed most of the hike in peace.
On the far side of the hill, we picked up the Mt. Angeles trail proper and
headed out. Off to the south, we had great views of the interior, snow
covered mountains of the Olympics. Once past the hill, the trail was
primarily dry dirt with occasional patches of snow in the trees and shadier
portions of the trail. Occasionally, there'd be longer stretches of snow.
The trail here is relatively flat for a ways with the terrain being mostly
open alpine meadow with clumps of trees. Sometimes the trail led over the
top of the ridge; often the trail traversed the slope just below the ridge
line. The day was warm and soon our legs started sweating under the
gaiters and we decided to take them off, seeing as we really didn't have
need for them. As we were standing there, taking off the gaiters and
having a drink, we happened to be facing off the side of the trail. I
happened to look behind us and suddenly noticed Mrs. Deer walking along a
few feet next to the trail behind us. The deer was pretty quiet and had
snuck within 10 feet without our noticing. She didn't seem bothered by us
at all and continued along the trail line, passing us by.
Perhaps half a mile down the trail (and a short distance after we took off
the gaiters), the trail climbs a real minor hill. On the far side was a
long snow covered slope that we had to go down. So the gaiters went back
on again and we started down. I really didn't want to get all wet and
cold, but the opportunity to glissade down the hill was too much and off I
went. The day was warm enough that the soaking pants weren't really cold
or uncomfortable, and they dried before the end of the hike. Pam was
wearing jeans and opted to just walk down the hill.
Along the way, we heard a bird singing and traced the sound to a little
bird perched on the top of a small tree adjacent to the trail. It was the
littlest Junco bird I've ever seen, not larger than 2 or 3 inches. His
loud song was at odds with his diminuitive size. I decided to get a photo
of the bird and pulled out my camera and dug out my 2X teleconverter. As
expected, the bird waited until the lens swapping was all done only to fly
away before I could take the picture.
After that hill, the trail was again mostly flat and dry. For the most
part, the trail traverses the south east side of Sunrise Ridge above the
Hurricane Ridge Road. At times the trail descends and at times it ascends
until it does a slow descent to a junction with the Switchback Trail at 2.6
miles. The Switchback Trail provides the quickest access to the Victor
Pass area. The Switchback Trail climbs 700 feet in 0.6 miles from the road
to intersect the Mt. Angeles trail. From that junction, the Mt. Angeles
trail climbs steeply (using switchbacks) 800 feet up the slope of Mt. Angeles,
finally leading to Victor Pass at 3.6 miles.
To gain access to the Victor Pass area, the Switchback trail provides a
much shorter and quicker route than the Mt. Angeles trail, though the
ascent can be a grind at times. Using the Mt. Angeles trail does save half
of the grind of the Switchback trail, but only half. One still has the top
half of the Switchbacks to contend with. The Mt. Angeles trail does
provide some mightly nice hiking and views and can be worthwhile in its
On our hike, just above the junction of the Switchback trail and the
Mt. Angeles trail we started hitting more and more frequent snow with the
top of the switchbacks being more snow than not. For the most part, the
boot trail in the snow tried to follow the switchbacks, though in places
where snow reached all the way between two legs of the switchbacks people
generally opted for the more direct route.
Once you reach Victor Pass, you gain stupendous views of Port Angeles,
Dungeness Spit, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island and
Victoria. Today, there was a bank of fog hanging just along the coast line
(with a well established edge). On the west side of the pass is
Mt. Angeles and on the east, Klahhane ridge continues. One trail continues
along Klahhane ridge, while, on the other side of the pass, the Mt. Angeles
trail continues down into the bowl traversing the side of Mt. Angeles
before switchbacking up to notch between the second and third peaks of
Mt. Angeles. The pass is a good place for a rest break or possibly lunch.
Often mountain goats can be seen here. This hike was no exception, and a
search discovered a pair of goats high on the side of Mt. Angeles. They
were too far for photographing, but showed up quite clearly with the
binoculars. The fate of the mountain goats is uncertain. The original 12
or 18 animals were introduced to the Olympic mountains (40? years ago) and
quickly spread to a herd of 1200. Unfortunately, they were very successful
at destroying the native vegetation and the park service has been trying to
remove them from the mountains. Trapping hasn't been successful and as of
this time, the park service is attempting to start up a program of shooting
the remaining animals. As of now, their proposed program is still up for
After a break and some food, we started back down on the way home. The
trip down the switchbacks was considerably easier than the trip up, giving
me some opportunities to practice my standing glissades (I didn't want to
get my pants all wet with the evening setting in).
One of the surprising things I noticed on the hike was that we were the
only people I saw with gaiters on, though I did hear one group lamenting
that they didn't bring any. The snow was certainly prevalent enough that I
was glad to have them.
The hike back was pleasant with the lower sun making interesting shadows on
the terrain. The large snow slope that I had originally glissaded down is
visible from quite a few places on the trail. Looking back at it, it
seemed larger and more formidable than it had earlier. That was the only
large uphill trek on the way back (though some segments of the trail had
long stretches of a more gradual climb). We finally arrived at the base of
the snowy hill and started up. Despite its imposing facade, it only took
10 minutes to grind up the hillside to the top. After having done so, I
discovered a side trail that bypasses the top of the hill and would have
made an easier ascent route (around the east side of the hill, starting
about 2/3's the way up).
The animals were more prevalent during the hike back. We passed several
deer grazing in the meadows and had one deer that walked along with up
(parallel to the trail) for quite a ways. It was in interesting experience
taking a deer out for a walk.
In the hillside about 20 minutes from the end, we came across a group of
about 5 marmots. Pam hadn't seen marmots since she was a kid, and I
haven't run across them in years. These marmots gave us the best show that
I've ever seen. One marmot was up the hillside and somewhat closer to us.
He saw us and said, "Oh, oh! People!" and went running/scurrying off down
the hillside. When he got to the other marmots, they all joined him
scurrying away. They then stopped and checked us out and must have decided
that we were okay, as the first marmots came running back up the hillside
to the trail, and then came running down the trail towards us. We could
even hear the sound of his feet beating the trail, which, combined with the
(large) view of the marmot through the binoculars, made an impressive
sight. Pam and I merely had fun watching their antics. At one point, I
turned around to Pam to find that the deer that we'd been hiking with had
snuck up on us on the trail. The deer went several feet off the trail and
passed us. The sight of the deer (apparently) set off the marmots again
and they again went running down the hillside. The deer seemed to have a
bemused look as to say, "What are you guy's problem?"
Along the way back Pam also spotted a couple of ptarmigans alongside the
trail. When we finally returned to Big Meadow (Hurricane Ridge parking
lot), we found that many of the people that had thronged the place midday
had left, leaving it relatively calm. On the slopes below the parking lot,
we could see no less than a dozen deer grazing or merely laying down taking
Though we didn't have time to hike up to the top of Hurricane Hill, we did
drive out to check it out. Past the parking lot at the visitor's center,
the road turns narrow and descends a bit until it climbs up again and ends
in 1.6 miles at a circular turn around with limited parking. There are
also a few picnic areas along the way. Due to the narrowness of the road,
it is probably better to drive out the trail head, if possible, than to
park at Big Meadow and hike out along the road.
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Last updated on: Thu Jun 25 16:23:56 PDT 2015