WA – Olympics – Deer Ridge and Blue Mountain

Accessing the Olympic Peninsula from the north starts with adventure #1, a ferry ride.

How’s this for a front row seat?

It’s been several years since I’ve been to a coastal environment, so of course the first photo I had to take was the flower I associate with the pacific coast.

Rhododendron

It pays to have friends in many places and in this instance my friend Jake, a long-time peninsula dweller, helped me plan an awesome itinerary for the Olympics. My wish list included views, wildflowers, challenging and varied terrain. This hike ticked all the boxes.

During the summer, you can drive to Deer Ridge which is home to a nice campground (Deer Park) and the hub of many trails. But why drive, when you can hike? The hike begins at Slab Camp (a misnomer since it’s really a parking area with a few primitive sites) and follows a well signed, excellent condition trail to Deer Park.

Wildflowers kept me entertained as I began my hike.

As did views of the snow covered mountains.

Some of the trail reminded me of the PCT with a few long easy traverses.

Bright spots of color along the trail were a welcome sight.

Nearing Deer Ridge, a few patches of snow were evidence that it’s still spring in the high mountains. AND, no surprise with such a namesake, DEER were hanging about on these slopes.

Upon reaching Deer Park, the potential views from atop Blue Mountain were a temptation I couldn’t resist.

Rainshadow Trail to the top of Blue Mountain was hidden under snow so it was a good day to practice snow hiking skills.

and a good day to enjoy creating your own route.

Views like these made the additional ascent and miles worthwhile.

The topographic ridge marks were distinct and unusual.

You could see the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the town of Sequim. On a clear day, the views would take you to Canada.

In a few more weeks you might have been singing some of those Sound of Music lyrics.

Photo credit: Holly

Someone has a sense of humor. Do you see the well groomed smiley face?

There was a dangerous snow cornice at the top, just waiting it’s turn to fall . . . or for some two or four legged friend to take one step too many.

Always love finding survey markers.

The reward!

Bonus: Meeting Holly, a new friend and adventure buddy. We shared some miles and smiles, or miles of smiles 🙂

 

Date Hiked: 5/5/16

Road Trip Day #76

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

  • The access road into Slab Camp is USFS and thus available for free dispersed camping.
  • According to my Trimble Outdoors Navigator app, this was a 13 mile, 4000′ elevation gain/loss trip.
  • Don’t expect complete solitude. On this date, I shared the trail with maybe a dozen other hikers but we were all quite spread out so it didn’t feel crowded in the least.
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. Take a detour to the NP Visitor Center in Port Angeles.
  • Take a trip to Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for outstanding views.
  • Resupply in Sequim and consider the 11-mile round trip walk on the Dungeness Spit to the Light House.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington

 

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4 thoughts on “WA – Olympics – Deer Ridge and Blue Mountain

  1. Jan,

    My name is Larry Wadosky and I’m wanting to hike up to Smith Lake the 2nd or 3 week in June. Hike in Sunday morning and hike to Alpine Junction. Take a small break and then ford across the creek and hike up the switchback for an hour or so and then there’s the tree with the sign Alpine lake pointing up the trail. I hiked straight another 7 to 10 minutes and there’s, a small camp spot and I found fresh drinking water near by. I would camp there and the next morning hike up to Smith Lake. I’m 61 and in excellent shape. I’m looking for one or 2 more hikers who want to make the trip. I would stay there M, T & W & hike out Thursday down to Alpine Junction and either camp there or hike back down to Oak Flat where there’s some excellent camping spots. Stay the night and hike out Friday morning. I would appreciate a response when YOU have the time.

    Larry Wadosky

    ________________________________

    • Hi Larry,
      Although this comment is attached to a Washington post, it looks like you are asking about the Trinity Alps. It sounds like you are familiar with the area. The river crossing may be tricky early season this year. Snow may linger at higher elevations. You can check the trail conditions report online. I believe I have the link on my Trinity Alps Wilderness page. Do you have specific plans for the days you plan to base camp at Smith? Best of luck finding some companions. It’s always a challenging endeavor.

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