331 Things to Do in Port Angeles, Washington – #7 Olympic National Park Hiking: Wander to Wildflowers
Head to the Olympic National Park in Washington State for some refreshingly-fresh mountain air. Go for a crowd-less hike through the Olympic National Park in Port Angeles in search of wild alpine flowers that are just starting to bloom for the summer season. Look for lupines, seek out sedum and peek at paintbrush. And remember to #recreateresponsibly.
Here are our favorite hikes to spot wildflowers in and around the Olympic National Park:
Hurricane Ridge Hikes
There are dozens of hiking trails bursting with wildflower blooms fanning out from the parking area at the top of Hurricane Ridge. After taking in views of the entire Olympic Mountain range, make your way to these trails for some alpine flower spotting and you might get lucky with your timing. July and August are the best months to see flowers blooming up here since you’re at an elevation at over 5,000-feet.
Before you head out for a hike in the Olympic National Park, check the current ONP conditions to find out what is open and what is closed.
Photo: Nate Wyeth
The Switchback Trail is a steep climb 5-mile out and back (1,700-feet in elevation gain) hike along the hillside leading up to Klahhane Ridge at 6,050-feet. Not only will you see wildflower fields, but the local national park wildlife is active on this trail. We have seen bear, black-tailed deer, chipmunks, mountain goats (with babies!) and, of course, plenty of our famous marmots.
You can access this trail along Hurricane Ridge Road, but parking is limited, or from the main parking area at Hurricane Ridge, which adds a little extra mileage to your hike.
Photo: John Gussman
Heart O’ Hills Trails
There are several hikes from the Heart O’ Hills trailheads and camping area. The Heart O’ the Forest is a 4-mile out and back hike through old-growth forest. You can also meet up with the Klahhane Ridge trail by taking the Heather Park trail which climbs up over 3,000-feet. If you prefer to hike to an alpine lake, take the trailhead to Lake Angeles where you’ll do some creek-crossing and spot early-season alpine flowers like trillium and Indian-pipe along the way. The trail’s terrain changes as you gain elevation (2,300-feet over approximately 3.5-miles), but once you arrive plan on taking a summer swim in the lake and marvel at the views of Mt. Angeles and Klahhane Ridge. You can head up to Klahhane Ridge from here and end up going back down the Switchback Trail if you want to add some additional mileage — and climbs — to your Olympic Peninsula hiking adventure.
Post-Hike Pit Stop: Head to downtown Port Angeles to eat, drink and shop. Barhop Brewing — our local craft beer joint — brews up award-winning beers and offers an extensive pizza menu (and the pizza is really good). The outdoor patio has waterfront views, or you can chill out inside their spacious brewery. Take a stroll along the Olympic Discovery Trail towards Ediz Hook if you haven’t hiked enough for one day.
Photo: Lynnette Braillard
Striped Peak Hiking Trail
The Striped Peak trail in Port Angeles is located at the Salt Creek Recreation Area. This 5-mile (out and back) forested trail climbs over 1,000-feet and offers lookouts filled with flowers and Strait of Juan de Fuca sea views. On a clear day, you can even see Canada. Dogs are allowed on this hiking trail, too.
After you descend Striped Peak, hike to the historic WWII bunkers or go looking for a Red Nudibranch in the tidepools — this is one of Port Angeles’ hot spots for tide pooling. We also recommend booking an in-depth tidepool tour with an eco-tour by Experience Olympic to “geek out” on the biodiversity of the Salish Sea.
Post-Hike Pit Stop: Pop into Harbinger Winery on your way back into Port Angeles from Salt Creek Recreation Area for a tasting wine flight paired with a cheese or chocolate plate at their cool industrial-style winery which used to be an old logging truck shop. They also have rotating craft beer on tap, too.
Photo: John Gussman