With its easy access and 15 to 20 miles of routes, Hurricane Ridge is the focus of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Olympic National Park. Though winter explorers of all abilities can enjoy the area, flat, easy, beginner ski terrain is limited to the meadows above the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Backcountry skiers can explore several slopes and bowls in the area. No trails are groomed or marked, however two routes use unplowed roads, which can usually be navigated.
NOTE FOR SNOWSHOERS, WALKERS, SNOWBOARDERS AND SKIERS: Do your part to help everyone enjoy this area. Snowshoers, walkers and snowboarders, please stay to one side to avoid damaging the ski tracks on trails, and do not snowshoe or walk through the downhill ski area.
Before heading out on any trip remember to register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and check current avalanche conditions.
The meadows above the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center offer gentle, easy terrain for everyone and excellent views in fair weather. Because the meadows are exposed to the sun and wind, they can be icy or wind packed.
Hurricane Hill Road 1.3 mi/2.1 km one way
Beginning just west of the visitor center, this trail first descends steeply, then follows the rolling, moderate ridgeline along the unplowed Hurricane Hill Road. Experienced skiers can use this trail to reach the Hurricane Hill Route (see Most Difficult), as well as several bowls for backcountry skiing. In clear weather there are good views to the north and south, especially at the trail/road terminus at the Hurricane Hill trailhead. Much of this ridgetop trail is sheltered by a subalpine forest, making it a good choice in windy, inclement weather or when there is elevated avalanche hazard. Wolf Creek Trail 8 mi/12.9 km one way to Whiskey Bend
This route begins 0.6 miles west of the visitor center along the unplowed Hurricane Hill Road (see above) and descends through meadows and forests into the Elwha Valley. There are several south-facing slopes near the beginning, which are good for backcountry skiing. The Wolf Creek Trail is seldom snow-covered at lower elevations. Users generally descend just a few miles through forest and several meadows, with views to the south, then return the same way.
Obstruction Point Road: To Waterhole 3.4 mi/5.5 km one way
Rather than descend the exposed, steep, often drifted and icy route of the summer Obstruction Point Road, the winter route starts at the sharp curve along the Hurricane Ridge Road, 0.5 miles below the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Park in the pull-off below the curve, cross to the east side of the road and walk the snow bank back uphill to the curve. After descending a steep but short meadow, the route intersects and follows the unplowed Obstruction Point Road. Except for the initial descent, the first 1.5 miles are relatively easy and sheltered by forest. After a steep climb, the route crosses below Steeple Rock and continues onto a short section of exposed slopes, which can be drifted, icy and difficult to traverse. After that, the trail flattens and meanders through sheltered subalpine forest. Beyond Waterhole, it climbs steeply (see below).
Hurricane Hill Route 1.6 mi/2.6 km one way
This route starts at the end of the Hurricane Hill Road route and climbs 700 feet to the summit of Hurricane Hill. There are several very steep sidehills if users follow the summer trail route, so use extreme caution under icy or elevated avalanche hazard conditions. As an alternative, skiers and snowshoers can follow the ridgeline, which has fewer steep sections. Be careful to stay off cornices that build up along the lee side of the ridge. Under good conditions, advanced skiers or snowshoers will find this a rewarding trip with good views and some nice slopes.
Obstruction Point Road: Waterhole to end 4.3 mi/6.9 km one way(Obstruction Point Road is 7.8 mi/12.5 km one way)
This route begins midway out the unplowed Obstruction Point Road (see description above for the first 3.4 miles to Waterhole). After Waterhole, the route gains 900 feet, climbing steadily for 0.5 miles to open slopes on Eagle Point. In clear weather, views can be spectacular but steep sidehills and exposure to storms make this a difficult route. It is recommended only under good conditions for experienced skiers. Travelers beyond Obstruction Point should expect steep terrain with high avalanche potential.
Sunrise Ridge 2.1 mi/3.4 km one way
Begin this route by crossing below the intermediate rope tow and tube park, then climbing to the right of the ski hill (stay right of the trees). After crossing under the top of the ski area’s intermediate rope tow, this route follows a narrow ridge toward the south side of Mount Angeles. There are several avalanche prone areas along the way, so check conditions and use caution under unstable conditions. Be especially careful to stay off cornices that form along the ridge and side ridges. Several scenic slopes on the east side descend to the Hurricane Ridge Road.
Depending on the snow level, other roads and trails in the park and in Olympic National Forest may be snow-covered. Check at the visitor center for current snow levels. For example, the Deer Park Road may provide skiing or snowshoeing opportunities. If the snow level is low enough, the road may be skiable from the boundary, but users usually need to hike several miles before reaching snow. For winter safety, this steep, narrow road is closed to cars at the park boundary, 9 miles from Highway 101, at around 2,000 feet of elevation. The road climbs steadily about 9 more miles from the park boundary up to Blue Mountain.