By Gary Huff
Blue Mountain: Elevation 6,007 ft. Elevation gain: 100 ft. Distance: .5 mile Time: 1hr. Trailhead: 5,900 ft. 100% alpine Enjoyment rating: 4
Maiden Peak: Elevation 6,434 ft. Elevation gain 1,634 ft. Distance 7.1 mi. Time: 3.5 hrs. 100% alpine. Trailhead: 5,200 ft. Enjoyment rating: 5
Overview: Blue Mountain and the large meadows below the peak, called Deer Park, are a great place to explore trails and walk ridges. You have lots of choices and flexibility. When the snows melt, you can drive within .2 mile of the top of Blue Mt. and get a spectacular view of Olympic peaks, Sequim, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands, Victoria, Vancouver Island and the Cascades. And/or you can drive into the campground .8 mile from the top and explore the alpine ridge running southeast down to the Slab Camp trailhead, 2,500 feet below. (Some people prefer to hike up Blue Mt. the hard way, starting at the Slab Camp trailhead and hiking 5.6 miles and 3,507 feet of elevation gain to the top. It’s a spectacularly scenic hike which provides access to Blue Mountain before the snows are off the road. The ridge is usually hike-able 6 weeks before the road opens because it is a south facing ridge.) Or, hike to Maiden Peak by turning off one mile from the top of Blue Mt. toward the Deer Park Ranger Station. It’s a beautiful 7.1 mile round trip on the Grand Ridge trail to Maiden Peak. And if you want to go even farther, you can hike all the way to Obstruction Point or the Grand Valley. There is a lot to do at Blue Mountain/Deer Park and since you can drive to such high starting points, all are awesome alpine ridge experiences.
Blue Mountain/Deer Park: Getting to the trails: Between Sequim and Port Angeles the Deer Park road turns left (south) off hwy 101 at the Deer Park Cinema and runs 17 miles to the top. The road is paved for 9 miles, then enters the National Park and becomes a narrow, winding gravel road for the next 8mi. At 16 miles, a side road (signed) turns right to the Deer Park Ranger Station and the trailhead to Maiden Peak and Obstruction Point. It loops back to the main road, passes the campground at 16.3 mi. then on to the summit of Blue Mountain. Plenty of parking is available at the trailhead .2 mile from the summit.
Blue Mt. It is an easy walk up to what was once an old fire lookout ( gone) and a short loop trail back to the parking area. Wildflowers are prolific in these alpine meadowlands and views from the top are dramatic, with water in front of you and Olympic Mountains behind and around you. Sequim and the Dungeness Spit are 6,000 ft. below. In back of you, west, you can see Grand Ridge, and the hike to Maiden Mt. Maiden is the second rocky peak on the ridge. Southeast is the alpine ridge running down from Blue Mt. to the Slab Camp trailhead in the Grey Wolf river valley. Towering above the valley are a string of peaks, from left to right: Tyler, Baldy, Gray Wolf, & Walkinshaw.
To get to the trail down this Southeast ridge (called Deer Park ridge trail) to Slab Camp, go back down the road .8 mile to the east side of the campground (5,640 ft.) and take the eastern most trail (signed) toward Slab Camp. It is 5.2 miles from the campground down to the trailhead at 2,560 ft. The ridge walk is gently down for the first 1.7 miles to the National Park boundry at 4,700 ft, providing changing views through interesting alpine country. After 1.7 miles it drops off more steeply on its way to the valley below.
Many people choose to hike to the top of Blue Mountain/Deer Park, starting from this Slab Camp trailhead because it is accessable earlier as a result of it’s southern exposure. It’s a total of 5.6 miles and 3,507 ft. of elevation gain to the top of Blue Mt. The road to this trailhead is also open much earlier.
Directions to Slab Camp trailhead: The trailhead is 9.5 miles from Hwy 101. Take the Taylor Cutoff road, 2 miles west of Sequim and follow for 5 miles, till you see a left turn on FS road # 2870. Go .9 mile to a right on road # 2820 signed Slab Camp. Follow for 3.6 miles to the end of the road, an unsigned trailhead and parking on the right. The trailhead is behind a pile of boulders. On the left is the trailhead to the Gray Wolf river, 3.2 miles away. (Slab Camp is named for an old lumber camp which is gone.)
Maiden Peak: Enticing Maiden Peak is 3.5 miles in on the Grand Ridge trail, which follows Grand Ridge all the way to Obstruction Point, 7.6 miles away. The trailhead begins at the Deer Park Ranger Station. It has an “O hell” beginning because it descends 400 ft in the first .5 mile. The positive is that on the left, south, great views of Mounts Tyler, Baldy and Greywolf appear through the subalpine trees, some of which were burned in a forest fire years ago. The trail then turns upward and climbs around the top of tree-covered Green Mountain (5,822 ft.) at 1.5 mi. For the next mile, the country is a mix of alpine meadows and alpine firs. Views also open up to the north with looks at the Strait, Sequim and the San Juan Islands. At 2.8 miles break out of the trees into huge meadows covered in wildflowers until mid summer. An unnamed, rocky peak is straight ahead and Maiden Mt. is to the right of that.
The trail climbs up and around the left side of the unnamed peak (which can be climbed by leaving the trail and doing some moderate rock scrambling) then begins to do the same for Maiden at 3.5 mi. Leave the trail and walk on shale, (to avoid damage to plants), 300 feet to the top of the peak. Steep cliffs plunge down on your right. Views on top are 360 degrees with only Elk Mt., 2 miles west at 6,773 ft., blocking some of the sights. You get all the views described above plus in the north you can see Port Angeles & Ediz Hook. South are good views of Grand Valley, Grand Lake, Moose Lake, Grand Peak, McCartney Peak and Cameron Mountain. Southeast, the Needles and Deception Mt appear. West is the continuation of Grand ridge and Hurricane Ridge. And east is a satisfying ridge view back along the trail to Blue Mountain/Deer Park.
One of our favorite hikes is to have one party start at Deer Park and one start at Obstruction Point and then meet on the trail for lunch and exchange keys. Then meet again, back in town, to swap tales and exchange vehicles back.
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