By Gary Huff
Moose Mountain 6,753 ft.
Elevation gain: 1,400 ft. Distance: 7 mi. Time: 4 hrs. 100% alpine. Trailhead 6,150 ft. Enjoyment rating: 4. (Loop through Grand valley is 3,200 ft of elevation gain, 12 miles and 7 hrs.)
Overview:If you like alpine environments this is quickest way to get there: the trail begins high, at Obstruction point, 6,100 ft. It includes a pleasant 1.5 mile alpine meadow hike along Lillian ridge to a walkup peak 6,536 ft. Then a right turn off the main trail onto a “way” trail which involves some rock scrambling but is easily followed along ridges to the top of Moose mountain. From the top the views of Grand Valley, Grand Lake, Moose Lake, and Gladys Lake are grand! If you feel adventurous you can make it a loop hike by dropping down to the grand valley trail and back up to the Lillian ridge trail by way of the lakes.
Getting to the Trailhead:From Hwy 101 in Port Angeles, turn south at the Olympic National Park sign on Race Street and continue past the National Park Visitor’s Center. From here it is 17 paved miles to the top of Hurricane Ridge. You enter the park at a toll both 5 miles up. At the top take a quick left on Obstruction Point road, an 8 mile narrow, gravel road to the trailhead.
The Trail:At the trailhead turn right up Lillian Ridge toward Grand Lake, Grand Valley. The Lillian Ridge trail begins by gradually going up hill then drops down a couple hundred feet to a plateau where you get good views down into Badger Valley and four water tarns used by game in this high country. The trail is alpine and rock with views of the Olympics all around. Good views of the Needles and Mt. Deception on your left (SE). Another gradual uphill climb gets you to the base of a walk up peak on your left at 1.5 miles and 6,500 ft. A sign posted here says “Trail” and points straight ahead because the main trail drops down 1,800 ft into Grand Valley. The walk up peak, on your left, is only a 200 ft walk.
To get to Moose Mountain go right at the sign and follow an unmaintained way trail along a rocky ridge which involves some light scrambling. About a mile ahead pass within a couple hundred feet below another peak on the left at 6,550 ft. You can easily walk up that peak if desired. The trail quickly comes to a rocky dragonback ridge running right, up to the flanks of Moose Mountain. Walk along this dragonback ridge on a rough trail about halfway along the ridge until stopped by big rock and then drop down a well used 100 foot, slow scramble trail, to the bottom of the rock ridge.
The Peak:Once down the dragonback, find a continuation of the way trail to your right which goes up to the saddle to the right of Moose Peak. The footing is good, up easy shale. From the saddle walk to the top at 6,753 feet. The top is spacious and worth a walk around to see views from every edge. Moose towers over Grand Lake, Moose Lake, Grand Pass, and the Grand Pass trail below. Olympic peaks seem to surround you in every direction. West is McCartney Peak and Lillian Lake, a great off trail, backpacking destination. South is Grand Peak. North is Elk Mountain, Grand Ridge, Mt. Angeles and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. West is Mt. Deception and the Needles.
If you want to make this a loop hike and enjoy the lush lakes environment below, drop down the way trail on the sloping and rocky south ridge of Moose Mt. for about one mile. After a couple of rocky outcroppings find a gradual trail down to the grand pass trail just above Gladys Lake, the upper of the three lakes. Grand Peak is about one mile to the right. Moose Lake is one mile to the left. The trailhead, where you started, is also left, and totals 5 miles and 1,800 ft of elevation gain back. If you can, take this loop. It is worth every step because it has everything. It’s approximately 5 hours from Moose Mt, a 7 hr total loop hike
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