Grand Peak

Grand Peak: 6,701 ft. Elevation gain: 4,000 ft. Distance: 12.4 mi. Time: 7 hrs. 100% alpine. Trailhead: 6,150 ft. Enjoyment rating 5+

Grand peak, center, rises above Grand Valley

Grand peak, center, rises above Grand Valley

Overview: This is a world class hike by any standards. It has the best of alpine and sub alpine. It has all the elements: lakes, waterfalls, streams, peaks, views, good trails with lots of options, animals, alpine trees and meadows. The only downside is that it is a down, then up, then down, then back up hike. It is the price of geatness.

Getting to The Trailhead:From hwy 101 in Port Angeles, take Race Street south toward Hurricane Ridge, 17 miles to the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center. Take a hard left on Obstruction Point road at the beginning of the parking area. It is an 8 mile narrow, gravel road to the trailhead. At the trailhead Elk Mt, Blue Mt. and Grand Ridge is straight ahead, Grand Peak and Grand Valley is to the right up Lillian Ridge.

The Trail:At 6,100 ft the Obstruction Point trailhead is an alpine hiker’s dream. You are already on top and the first 1.5 miles keeps you there amidst open alpine meadows, lots of rocks and tarns along Lillian Ridge. But if you want to experience Grand Valley, Grand Pass, its three lakes and Grand Peak, you must first drop down 1,800 feet to a trail junction just above Grand Lake at 3.0 miles. Turn right at the sign toward Moose lake and Grand Pass. It’s a half mile to beautiful Moose lake, a popular fishing and camping lake. Beyond Moose lake the trail climbs again through spectacular alpine basin country where wild flowers, Olympic Marmonts and ribbons of streams abound. One mile above Moose lake, 4.5 miles from the trailhead, is Gladys Lake, a ways off the trail on the left. (Note: To the right is a ridge leading down from Moosehump Mountain which towers above the Lakes. Some people climb this ridge at the lowest point and then go up Moosehump Mt., then to Lillian Ridge to make a loop of the hike.) From Gladys Lake, it’s 1.5 miles to the top of Grand pass, then a short .2 of a mile walk-up to Grand Peak at 6,701 feet and 6.2 miles from the trailhead.

The Peak:The last half mile of the trail is mostly scree and rock but the footing is good. The view from the top of Grand Peak is truly “grand.” It provides a birds eye view of the trail going down to the Gray Wolf valley and then up into Cameron Pass and Mt. Cameron. Other peaks are visible in every direction. The Needles, Mt. Deception and Mt. Mystery are east. Mt. Anderson and it’s high glaciers are south. Mt. Olympus and the Bailey Range lie to the West and the Grand Ridge and Angeles peaks are north.

Now the fun starts all over again. On the return the trail drops back down to Moose and Grand Lakes, then ascends1,800 feet of elevation gain back up Lillian Ridge to the Obstruction point trailhead. One grand day.

Making It a LoopI had hiked in the grand valley area many times before I found a way to avoid dropping down to the lakes on both legs of the hike. Instead you can make it a loop hike by leaving the Grand Pass trail near Gladys Lake on the return and hike over Moose Mountain back to Lillian Ridge. (See the Moose Mountain description.) The exploration of the loop route is enjoyable but I found that it does not provide an “easier” route. The loop does save you about 500 feet of elevation but the cross country part of the route is more difficult, involves some rock scrambling and therefore does not save any time or energy. But, it is more adventurous and worth doing, especially after you have done it on the regular trail once or twice.

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