Our house sit in Washington state may have been short, but we took full advantage of the Port Angeles hikes. The city is located adjacent to one of the most diverse ecological systems in the world. Although there are a million and one amazing hikes on the Olympic Peninsula, the few listed here are all within a 45 minute drive of downtown Port Angeles.
Hurricane Ridge – Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge is part of the expansive Olympic National Park system. Though not very far from town, the drive takes almost a full half hour due to the narrow, winding road. However, the drive itself is worth the $30 per vehicle park entrance fee (or free with your America the Beautiful Pass). The road climbs up through both the temperate rain forest and the evergreens to take visitors up above the tree line, offering an amazing view of the surrounding mountain ranges. Unlike the rain forested areas that Olympic National Park is most known for, this Port Angeles hike is high and dry up in the mountains.
Staring at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center, we hiked a little over two miles along the interconnected trail system. The Overlook gave us a tiny glimpse of the Puget Sound over the hills. Once we reached Sunrise Point, we returned to the parking lot via the High Ridge Trail. This one ended up being one of our favorites, with unbelievable views of the mountains and even a peek at of one of the park’s far off glaciers.
At over 5,000 feet (1,667 m) above sea level, the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center was breathtaking. It was fascinating to go from beachside to frozen mountain top in only seventeen miles. The trip really drove home the incredible ecological diversity of the Olympic Peninsula.
Spruce Railroad Trail
Part of the much longer Olympic Discovery Trail, Spruce Railroad trail is a gentle, low impact hike along the north shore of Lake Crescent. Although part of Olympic National Park, this hike is free. With its lakeside bridges, dark mountain tunnels, and vibrant greenery, this was one of the most interesting and exciting lakeside strolls I’ve ever taken. Located only 25 minutes outside of town, it was easily one of our favorite Port Angeles hikes.
There was a bit of a drizzle during our hike, but in a place that averages 26 inches (2.5 cm) of rain each year, that’s not too bad. Starting at the Spruce Railroad Trail Head off E. Beach Road, we worked our way south along the lake. About a mile in, we found a lovely bridge and a still water pond known as Devil’s Punch Bowl. Just beyond that was the first of two tunnels, McFee Tunnel.
That’s right, this Port Angeles hike wasn’t named after a railroad for nothing! The whole trail runs along the old railroad route that was abandoned in 1951, leaving two railroad tunnels behind. We made it as far as the second, Daley Rankin Tunnel, about 1.5 miles in. Then we were forced to turn around due to renovation. It was still a wonderful, 3 mile there-and-back hike. I can’t wait to see the finished project scheduled for late 2019.
Lake Crescent had more in store for us as we continued on to our favorite walk of our Port Angeles hiking adventure, Marymere Falls. Off the southern bank of Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls is about 25 minutes away from Port Angeles. This hike is a two mile there-and-back walk through lush forest, culminating in a 90 foot waterfall.
We parked for free in the large parking lot at the Storm King Ranger Station, then took the pedestrian walkway under the highway to the trailhead. There was an excellent mix of terrain on this hike, from paved walks, dirt paths, bridges, and stairs. I really enjoyed the variety to match the diverse scenery.
It didn’t rain the day we enjoyed this Port Angeles hike, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get wet. During our 10 day stay here, we got wet and muddy every day during our walks regardless of the weather. I’m really glad we brought an extra pair of shoes and quality rain jackets.
I limited our adventures to hiking that was within 45 minutes of Port Angeles, but there is so much more to see and do in this area. Even a full weekend road trip of Olympic National Park wouldn’t be enough to see all of the natural beauty this area holds. We are both so grateful that we got the opportunity to house sit in Port Angles and hope that we will get the chance to come back and spend much more time here.