Written by renowned Pacific Northwest outdoors expert Doug Lorain, Top Trails: Olympic National Park & Vicinity features the best of the best trails the park has to offer. This guide showcases only the most spectacular scenery and wildlife in a wide selection of routes from all over the peninsula. It includes full descriptions of brand new Mt. Muller Loop and Murhut Falls trails, as well as some truly outstanding but often overlooked hikes, including a range of options from short and easy nature trails to extremely demanding day-hikes to a few of the absolute not-to-be-missed options for overnight travelers. In keeping with the tradition of the Top Trails series, this new guide will maximize readers' time and enjoyment of Olympic National Park.
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HIKE #29 DEER RIDGE TRAIL
Trail Use: Day hiking
Length: 10.2 miles, 5 hours
Cumulative Elevation: 2,840'
Difficulty: Level 4
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Surface Type: Dirt
Contour Map: Custom Correct Gray Wolf-Dosewallips
Start & End: N47° 57.897' W123° 11.593'
Deer Park is a busy, high-elevation destination in the northeast corner of Olympic National Park. July–October the park can be reached by a steep and winding gravel road. Locals know, however, that you can also reach this mountain paradise before the road opens via a quiet trail that climbs to the area from US Forest Service land to the east. In fact, on a sunny day in late June, it is hard to imagine a more scenic hiking destination on the entire peninsula. The trip involves a stiff climb, so it’s not for every- one, but for wildflowers, wildlife, and outstanding mountain views, it’s hard to beat.
The trail is usually hikable June–October. Mid- to late June is ideal for blooming rhododendrons at lower elevations and rock-garden wildflowers up high. The road to Deer Park usually opens in early July, so mid- to late June will also ensure having the high country to yourself. Photo and wildlife-viewing opportunities are better in the morning.
Finding the Trail
Drive US 101 to a junction near milepost 262, about 1 mile west of Sequim. Turn south on Taylor Cutoff Road, go 5.4 miles on this paved road, and then turn left onto gravel Slab Camp Road. After 0.9 mile, you fork right onto Forest Road 2875 and proceed 3.7 miles to a large gravel pullout and trailhead on the right.
The trail initially goes south from the parking lot  on an old gravel road that is now closed to vehicles. After only 15 yards, the trail splits. Go straight on Deer Ridge Trail and very gradually ascend a forested hillside above the old road. There are frequent nice views to the south of snowy Tyler Peak and Baldy. In the latter half of June, blooming rhododendrons put on a terrific display of color along this section of the trail. At about 0.8 mile, the pace of your ascent goes from gentle to moderately steep; at 1.2 miles, you round a prominent ridge and come to a nice open viewpoint.  The broad summit of Baldy (Trail 30) fills the sky to the south and towers above the green depths of the Gray Wolf River Canyon.
About 40 yards after this point, you go straight where an unsigned and now abandoned trail goes left and downhill. The main trail continues climbing, generally remaining in the welcome shade of dense forest. At about 1.7 miles is another rocky outcrop on your left with nice views, though this time the scenery is partially blocked by trees. The trail then goes up a much steeper section before reaching a third viewpoint on another spur ridge.  To the south–southwest rise the rugged high peaks of the Gray Wolf Divide, while to the west and west–southwest are an arc of snowy summits around Cameron Pass and the headwaters of the Gray Wolf River. It’s a marvelous scene, and for a comfortable way to take it all in, walk about 50 yards up the trail to a couple of benches, where you can sit and admire the view. These benches were installed by a local hiking club in memory of former club members who helped to maintain this wonderful trail.
The trail turns right at the viewpoint, steeply climbing the spine of the spur ridge, where short trees, twisted by frequent high winds, provide excellent frames for photographs of the distant mountains. After only 0.1 mile, the trail angles to the left off the ridge and crosses a partially forested slope with frequent outstanding views over the Gray Wolf Valley and its surrounding peaks. At a couple of points, you will even catch glimpses to the east of Puget Sound and Glacier Peak in the Cascade Range.
At about 3.8 miles, you reach the top of Deer Ridge with its spire-shaped subalpine firs and scrubby lodgepole pines. The ridge also features numerous wildflower-covered meadows, awesome views, and, yes, high concentrations of deer. It is common to see a dozen or more feeding in the meadows here, especially early in the morning. The trail enters Olympic National Park in this vicinity, though there is no sign at the boundary.
The trail soon cuts back over to the view-packed south side of the ridge and keeps climbing, though now at a very gentle grade. At about 4.3 miles, you come to a wonderful viewpoint  with wide vistas over more peaks, ridges, and canyons than I could possibly list. In late June there are also a wealth of tiny rock-garden wildflowers here, including Indian paintbrush, spreading phlox, smooth douglasia, grass widow, and Lomatium.
The hiking is now easy and scenic as you contour across open slopes for 0.6 mile to a junction.  The trail to the left drops to Three Forks and the Gray Wolf River. Keep straight and walk on a virtually level trail for a little more than 0.2 mile on the open southern slopes of Blue Mountain to a gravel turnaround and trailhead parking area off Deer Park Road.  If you’ve had your fill of mountain scenery, turn around here and return to the trailhead.  If you are still bursting with energy, however, you can continue the hike by walking up the gravel road to the nature trails around the summit of Blue Mountain with its 360-degree views.
Tip: If you want a very easy hike, wait until Deer Park Road opens, drive to the upper trailhead, and simply walk the easy and mostly level 0.8 mile to the high viewpoint noted above.
1. 0.0 Take trail from parking lot (N47° 57.897' W123° 11.593')
2. 1.2 First viewpoint (N47° 56.966' W123° 11.913')
3. 2.5 Third viewpoint (N47° 56.746' W123° 12.968')
4. 4.3 Ridge viewpoint (N47° 56.804' W123° 14.740')
5. 4.9 Three Forks junction (N47° 56.893' W123° 15.193')
6. 5.1 Deer Park Road (N47° 56.941' W123° 15.497')
7. 10.2 Return to trailhead (N47° 57.897' W123° 11.593')
Table of ContentsThe Top Trails Series
Olympic National Park & Vicinity Trails Table
Olympic National Park & Vicinity Area Map
Using Top Trails
Introduction to Olympic National Park & Vicinity
On the Trail
CHAPTER 1 Olympic Coast
1 Cape Flattery
2 Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches
3 Ozette Triangle
4 Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall
5 Toleak Point
6 Jefferson Cove
7 Ruby Beach
CHAPTER 2 West Region: The Rain Forests
8 Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trails
9 South Fork Hoh River Trail
10 Quinault Rain Forest Loop
11 Pony Bridge, Enchanted Valley, and Anderson Glacier
12 Colonel Bob
CHAPTER 3 Northwest Region: Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Areas
13 Mount Muller Loop
14 Sol Duc Falls–Lover's Lane Loop
15 High Divide Loop
16 Marymere Falls
17 Mount Storm King Viewpoint
18 Spruce Railroad Trail
19 The Cove and Salt Creek County Park
CHAPTER 4 North Central Region: Elwha and Hurricane Ridge Areas
20 Griff Creek Trail to Rock Viewpoint
21 Goblins Gate–Geyser Valley Loop
22 Dodger Point
23 Lake Angeles and Klahhane Ridge Loop
24 Cirque Rim Loop and Sunrise Ridge
25 Hurricane Hill
26 Elk Mountain
27 Grand Valley and Grand Pass Loop
CHAPTER 5 Northeast Region: The Rain Shadow Area
28 Dungeness Spit
29 Deer Ridge Trail
31 Royal Basin
32 Mount Townsend and Silver Creek Loop
33 Mount Zion Ridge Viewpoint
34 Marmot Pass and Buckhorn Mountain
35 Tunnel Creek Trail
CHAPTER 6 Southeast Region: Duckabush and Skokomish Areas
36 Ranger Hole and Murhut Falls
37 Lake of the Angels
38 Mount Ellinor
39 Staircase Rapids
Appendix 1: Top-Rated Trails
Appendix 2: Governing Agencies and Nonprofit Organizations
About the Author