Deer Park – Rain Shadow Loop
Olympic National Park
Very few roads lead high into the Olympic Mountains. Most people are familiar with Hurricane Ridge…considering it is the only paved road that gets very high. But the Deer Park Road is around 10 miles west of Hurricane Ridge and offers some excellent views as well, including access to a few high trails. Deer Park is also known for a campground that have sites nearly at treeline, an uncommon thing for any Washington campground. The highlight of Deer Park is parking at the end of the road, high on Blue Mountain. The views are supurb, with wildlife, wildflowers and Strait of Juan de Fuca. From there, the half mile Rain Shadow Trail continues up to the summit and loops back to the parking lot. So, the summit is less than a quarter mile walk, on an easy trail. From the top, the Northeast Olympics all come into view.
WillhiteWeb.com - Olympic Mountains
The Deer Park Road turns off Highway 101 just 5 miles east of Port Angeles. According to the Park Service, the 18-mile Deer Park Road is narrow and steep with occasional turn-offs. For those use to driving gravel roads, the road is actually really nice and easy. Just beware that tourists are on it and often are nervous drivers. The first 9 miles are paved, the second 9 are gravel. The park says the road is not suitable for RVs or trailers. From late fall until the snow melts out in late spring, the road is closed at the park boundary, about 9 miles from Highway 101.
Three trails leave from Deer Park.
Rain Shadow Loop
The Rain Shadow Loop is a 0.5 mile loop trail that climbs to the top of Blue Mountain, allowing hikers to get a full 360 degree view of the northern region of Olympic National Park. If possible, take this walk at dusk when the clouds come in from the Pacific and fill the valley below. At night, the cities of Port Angeles, Squim, Victoria and Bellingham are all lighted up. Elevation gain about 170 feet.
This 7.4 mile trail passes through subalpine forests, then mountain meadows over three mountain peaks. It ends at Obstruction Point, a location reachable from Hurricane Ridge. Much of the ridge route is above 6,000 feet. This is the best trail from Deer Park for a day of hiking.
This is a 4.3 mile hike that drops to junction with the Gray Wolf River Trail. The elevation drops from 5,400 to 1,600 feet so most people will avoid this trail for just day hiking. If you’ve made the effort to drive high, stay high. There are plenty of valley trails in the Olympics to access without having to climb out upon return.
Blue Mountain Benchmark 1955
Kids tradition is to touch the benchmark
Mount Angeles and the Hurricane Ridge Road
Nearing the summit
Sunrise over the marine layer of clouds
Rainshadow Loop Trailhead
Side ridge viewed from the parking area
Looking down to the parking area from the trail up Blue Mountain
Olympic Mountains from near the summit of Blue Mountain
Deer Ridge to Obstruction Point
Gray Wolf River Valley & Mt. Walkinshaw
Sunrise and clouds over the water
Trail up the north side of Blue Mountain
SE to Baldy and Gray Wolf Ridge
A 10x10 foot cab was built in 1928, replaced by a gable-roofed L-4 cab in 1931. The site was used as an Aircraft Warning Service station during WWII. The lookout building was destroyed in 1970.
Southeast - July 21, 1935
North - July 21, 1935
Southwest - July 21, 1935
1933 Olympic National Forest Map