For some outdoor enthusiasts, seasons don't change, equipment does. Bikes go on the rafters, skis come down; hiking boots go into storage, snowshoes take their place. On the north side of the Olympic Peninsula, you can accept or reject this change of seasons and equipment.
Here, you can hike and bike year-round. Sure, you probably need rain gear and an extra layer of clothing, but "summer sports" can be played around the calendar near Port Angeles. "Winter sports" are limited to a season or two, though, with snow-top adventure lasting as long as the snow does from 3-5 months.
Hurricane Ridge, just minutes from downtown Port Angeles, is the local haven for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill skiing and tubing. It is part of the Olympic National Park and one road will take you from sea level in the city to the near-mile high winter recreation mecca of the Park.
Snowshoeing becomes more popular every season. It's an easy way to keep hiking when the trails go white. The most challenging part for most newcomers is putting their shoes on properly. After that, it's literally a walk in the Park in any direction you choose. National Park rangers offer guided walks Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays at 2 p.m. Aluminum-framed shoes are provided on the 90-minute loop and a $2 donation covers the walk, the talk and the equipment. Early arrival is advised. Space is limited.
The Ridge offers 20 miles of trails, so if you want to shoe-off or cross-country ski off on your own, the Klahhane Ridge and Wolf Creek trails offer scenery and serenity. If you don't mind a few others sharing the trail with you, the short trek up Hurricane Hill affords you a magnificent vantage of surrounding peaks and valleys. Shoes and Alpine skis can be rented at several places in Port Angeles and at the rental shop in the Hurricane Ridge Lodge.
Downhill skiers don't get the vertical drops of the Cascade resorts, but they don't get the long lines or high prices either. The only place to downhill ski in the Olympic Mountains, Hurricane Ridge offers two rope tows and a Poma lift with runs that range from beginner to expert.
Snowboarders can purchase a lift ticket and take advantage of the rope tows and Poma lift, or they can use their own locomotion and venture to the top of Hurricane Hill. Basically, all hillsides and bowls deemed safe are open. Common sense and a quick-check with a ranger is strongly recommended.
Tubers and sliders have two areas to frolic in the snow. The Sunrise Family Snowplay Area, located one mile north of the Visitor Center is open for children and families. There is also a Tiny Tots Snowplay Area for very small children adjacent to the Visitor Center.
In addition to ranger assistance and equipment rental, the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center offers interpretive exhibits and food service. Winter hours are Fridays through Sundays plus holiday Mondays, 9-4. Winter weather changes rapidly so always call for road conditions before venturing up the Hurricane Ridge Road. (360-565-3130 live; 360-565-3131 for an updated recording). There is an access fee of $10 per vehicle for entering the Olympic National Park or do the smart thing and buy a one-year pass for only $30.
112 W. Front Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Web Site: http://web.archive.org/web/20020908035814/http://www.brownsoutdoor.com/
We offer the best and the most current biking/backpacking equipment and a wonderful selection of men's and women's sportswear/casual clothing.
140 W. Front Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Web Site: http://web.archive.org/web/20020908035814/http://www.olymtn.com/