Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
August 22, 2015
A little day trip
We'd been to Hurricane Ridge once before, though it was years ago, shortly after we arrived in the PNW. We were camped nearby at Log Cabin Resort, so we decided to make a quick day trip back up to the ridge. While we're at it we'd also stop by Heart O' the Hills campground to see how it looked as a potential spot for Rocinante.
Heart 'O Gertrude (our GPS)
We fired up Gertrude and headed out on East Beach Road, jumping on Route 101 East. Just after we crossed the Elwha, she insisted we turn right on Olympic Hot Springs Rd, and then immediately turn left on Little River Rd. Ok, not bad. It's a bit remote, but so far, so good. After a few miles, Gertrude suggested we turn right, staying on Little River Road. That's when things got interesting. At this point, Little River Rd. is festooned with signs saying "We don't maintain this road. There will be no further warnings" and other similar notices. Then it climbs steeply up a hill, turns to gravel and becomes even steeper, climbing ever upward. We decided Gertrude was mistaken and not to go that way. We only have one truck, and we need it to get back home, 4WD be damned. So, we went back to 101 and followed it into the outskirts of Port Angeles before allowing Gertrude to give us driving directions again. A few extra miles of scenery and a bit of frustration later, we were on Hurricane Ridge Rd. at the park entrance, none the worse for wear. If your GPS recommends the same route, hopefully you will avoid this experience.
Heart O' the Hills
As promised, we stopped off at Heart O' the Hills to take a look around. Another lovely campground for boondockers! It's a big campground with five loops (A thru E) and plenty of places to camp. Unfortunately, once again we found that smaller is better where NPS campgrounds are concerned. There may be a total of five spots in this entire campground that would suit Rocinante. If your rig is no more than 20' long, you should find a great campsite with ease! Sadly, we probably won't be there to greet you because we've had to camp elsewhere.
It's a long and winding road from Heart 'O the Hills to Hurricane Ridge. Not a bad drive at all, though. You just need a bit of patience. Please also remember to watch out carefully for bicycle riders. This is a favorite route for many would-be Christopher Froome's. (Yeah, once upon of time I would have referred to Lance Armstrong's, but those days are gone.) There are also three short tunnels on the route as well as a bunch of places to stop and looky-loo, which all add interest to the drive. We were laser-focused on getting to the top, so we didn't stop along the way.
The ridge is a beautiful place, and quite pleasant in summer. From here you can see all the major peaks in the Olympic mountains, all the way to Port Angeles in direction and all the way to Canada in another.
There are lots of fearless black-tailed deer walking about. They are gentle at a distance, but are definitely not tame. Enjoy them but give them plenty of room, as they can give a very nasty kick if you get too close.
We saw far too many people getting super-close to the deer and taking selfies, etc. Sooner or later, one of them will wind up in an ambulance, headed to the hospital to stitch them back together after a particularly vicious kick. You have been warned.