Backpack to Grand Park in the Olympics

Port Angeles, Washington

based on 1 reviews



7.5 miles

Elevation Gain

2500 ft

Route Type



Added by Nick Lake

Take in miles of alpine tundra with sweeping views of the Olympic Peninsula. Get your camera ready for the pristine alpine lakes and abundant wildlife including deer, elk, black bear, and marmot. Added Bonus: excellent fly-fishing. 

The beauty of many of the north coast trails in the Olympic Peninsula is that your car does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.  This is certainly true of the Grand Valley Trail, which begins more than a vertical mile above the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the end of the Obstruction Point Road.  Sixteen miles up Hurricane Ridge Road, just as the Visitor's Center comes into view, the gravel Obstruction Point Road cuts sharply back to the left, dipping down off the ridgeline briefly, rolling through alternative meadows and subalpine forest for just under 8 miles to the Obstruction Point Trailhead (note: this road is usually closed from October thru July due to heavy snow).  Parking on summer weekends can be limited, so arriving early can be key.

Also, keep in mind that snow can linger well into August on snowier years, so be prepared with traction, an ice axe, and navigation equipment if hiking earlier in the season.

The trail ascends a few hundred feet off the bat, albeit not too steeply, before leveling out atop Grand Ridge, a prototypically marvelous alpine meadow boasting 360-degree views of the entire Olympic Peninsula, Cascades, and parts of southern British Columbia. For more than two miles the massive glaciers capping Mount Olympus can be seen towering over the western edge of the park while deep, glacially carved valleys sprawl out below the trail.  Deer and marmots are very common in this tundra as well.  

Eventually, the trail descends rather sharply along a relentless series of switchbacks as you drop into Grand Valley, which is ringed by jagged granite spires.  The forest thickens considerably as you lose nearly 1850 feet down into the moraine below and Grand Lake begins to come into view.

As the trails levels out, the trees give way to grassy slopes leading down to Grand Lake, which is a great spot to stop for a quick rest.  The real objective is Moose Lake, however, just upstream from its bigger neighbor.  The trail continues along a gentle slope up the valley to Moose Lake, where a number of campsites can be found in an adjacent meadow to the right of the trail.

Moose Lake is a perfect place to spend the night (though wilderness permits are required for overnight stays and can be obtained at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles--50% of sites are reservable while the remaining 50% are first come, first served.)  Abundant water sources, dramatic cliffs, voracious brook trout, and serene montane camp sites make this place a veritable eden.  A bear wire is available for food storage along the western shore and a backcountry privvy can be found just up a short trail spur from there.  Use of both is mandatory to maintain the wild nature of the area.

While this may sound strange and overly dramatic, be wary of the deer around Moose Lake--they're notoriously aggressive and annoying.  Years of human use have desensitized them to human presence and they're extremely bold in approaching campsites to scrounge for food and salty objects.  I had a t-shirt devoured by one such deer overnight and we found them licking our tents on several occasions.  Store food items and sweaty clothes accordingly and be prepared to chase them off every once in a while.

The hike out of Grand Valley is grueling, to say the least.  Much of the southeast-facing slope lacks tree cover as well, so on summer days an early start is recommended to avoid overheating.  1850 feet of elevation gain, however, brings you back up to Grand Ridge and its welcoming Pacific breezes, where a few more miles of level hiking brings you back to your car.

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Swimming Hole

Backpack to Grand Park in the Olympics Reviews

There are a lot of options here, too - we took a right before heading down the switchbacks and traversed Lillian Ridge to Moose Peak before descending upon the valley and reaching Gladys Lake, followed by Moose Lake and Grand Lake. We stayed overnight at Grand Lake which is equally spectacular, and continued out back to obstruction point via Badger Valley. The prairies on this route were incredible! And you are spot on about the deer. They are feisty.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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