Hike to Elk Mountain from Obstruction Point
Washington › Obstruction Point Trailhead
Added by Seth Whelden
Distance: 4 milesElevation gain: 644'Stunning mountain views for the entire hikeScenic drive to trailhead
Olympic National Park is built for someone with a week or more to spare for backpacking deep into the heart of the park's endless miles of wilderness. Between the mountains, the coast, and the rainforest, there is a lot of park to see for someone who is trying to fit their visit into an extended weekend, but there are plenty of options for these travelers if they know where to go.
Elk Mountain is not a prominent peak in the Olympic Range, but it provides a great turnaround spot for someone who wants an easy day or afternoon hike on their first day in the park. Additionally, for someone with time to spare, the hike continues on to Deer Park, a campsite in the Northeastern side of ONP, or down into Grand Valley and beyond.Getting to Obstruction Point
Drive to Hurricane Ridge, get out, take a few pictures, then get back in your car and start driving back the way you came. As you approach the entrance to the Hurricane Ridge Parking lot, there is a road on your right. In a low car, it looks a bit like you're about to drive off a cliff, but there should be a sign pointing you towards Obstruction Point (road closed in winter).
The road to Obstruction Point can be a bit rough at times, and too narrow for two cars to fit side-by-side. It is a two lane road however, and cars will be driving the other direction, sometimes quite fast, around tight turns with a sheer cliff to the south. You'll also find extremely distracting and beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Olympus herself which will tempt you to take your eyes off the road. Use caution and you'll have no problem.
The parking lot at Obstruction Point can be very full with cars overflowing out along the side of the road back to Hurricane Ridge, but don't let that deter you. There is so much land for all these people to explore that though you'll likely run into a few fellow hikers, you'll have plenty of the park to yourself out here, even if you don't go deep into the wilderness.The Trail
The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot. You'll see one trail going off up a hill to the right, and another that goes straight/left around a ridge. Stay left for the Elk Mountain/Deer Park hike. As soon as you venture around the back side of the hill, you'll come upon striking mountain views, with Beaver Valley stretching out below.
You can follow the trail towards Elk Mountain with your eyes all the way around the valley and miles into the distance. With a keen eye you may spot some hikers coming up the other way. The trail splits a quarter mile or so into the hike down switchbacks to Beaver Valley. This side trail will meet up with the Elk Mountain hike and provide a nice loop if you have time.
For the short version of the hike, Elk Mountain is 1.8 miles into the hike. It's not marked terribly well, but it will be on your left, shortly after another trail splitting off down into Beaver Valley and Grand Valley. Stop, take in the view, and decide your next move. Either head back the way you came and find your way to another part of the park, continue on towards Deer Park (another 5 miles or so), or make the loop by heading down into the valley and finding your way back to the Obstruction Point parking lot.
If timed right, you can hike back in late afternoon sun and enjoy the sunset on your drive back towards Hurricane Ridge. Here you can enjoy some dinner and wait for the stars to come out and give you a show.
The beauty of this park is that you can see it however you want. There is no "one hike" or "one trail" to take, it's all based around the experience you're looking for.
- National Parks Pass (or $15 park entrance fee)
- Backpacking gear (if planning to keep going!)
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography
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Added by Seth Whelden
Director of Photography. Born on the small island of Nantucket 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, it was always easy for me to appreciate the beauty of this world. Moving to Portland 7 years ago has only enhanced my desire to capture the stunning scenery around me, and driven me to go further in search of the perfect shot. By day I'm a freelance director of photography working out of Portland as my home base. I also co-own a stock footage company (The Stacks) with my wife Kelly. My mission is to bring my passion for light, color, tone, depth and framing to the brands that define Portland, Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. Visit my website: sethwhelden.comFollow
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