Hiking Hurricane Ridge
High above the shipping lanes of the Strait of Jan de Fuca and looming over the majestic Elwha River Valley, a road snakes its way into the steep mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. Hurricane Ridge offers a lifetime of sights in one majestic spot. This area is part of what will help define your visit to the Olympic Peninsula.
The sea stacks colliding with the mighty Pacific Ocean is a gorgeous scene as are elk or mountain goats perched against a backdrop of snow-covered caps. The view from Hurricane Ridge showcases miles of mountains, lush rainforest river valleys and the sheer dominance of the mountains. The vista at Hurricane Ridge is awe inspiring.
Hurricane Ridge is the location of an old lookout tower during WWII. Years before that in 1885, the “Seattle Press Expedition” was sent out to document the area. They spotted this imposing mountain and named it “Mount Eldridge” after William C. Eldridge, at that time a renowned peer in the field of journalism.
As the story goes, on a windy day in 1897, a prospector named W.A. Hall climbed up to the ridge from the Elwha River. Along the way, he passed wildflowers, amazing views, marmots and deer and eventually found himself at the summit. There, as he leaned forward into the wind, he struggled to remain standing as the wind slammed against him. As W.C. Hall attempted to remain on his feet as his long white beard was whipping into his weathered face, it is said he muttered, “This must be a dag-gum hurricane!” (Ok, that might not be exactly what he said, but the story is 100% real!)
Why is it so windy up there? The winds from the southeast are caused by shifting air pressure in the nearly 10 mile gap from Bailey Range to Hurricane Ridge. Winds speed through the forests below, barely rustling a tree in the valley. When they hit the mountain, however, where W.A. Hall was standing, they feel like a hurricane. The terms “Hurricane Hill” and “Hurricane Ridge” entered the local dialect to describe the area high above them. Hurricane Ridge is a place of snow, wildflowers, local wildlife, often sunny skies, sometimes intense blizzards and always a scenic drive!
For further information such as hiking trail suggestions, road closure status and weather conditions at the summit, please visit The Hurricane Ridge National Park Service.