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Sample Trail: From Chapter 5 Northeast Region: The Rain Shadow Area
HIKE #29 DEER RIDGE TRAIL
Trail Use: Hikers
Length: 10.2 miles, 5 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: +/- 2,840 feet
Difficulty: Level 4
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Surface Type: Dirt
Contour Map: Custom Correct Gray Wolf-Dosewallips
Start and End /Coordinates: N47" 57.897' W123" 11.593'
Trailhead Facilities: None
Excellent mountain scenery
Deer Park is a popular high-elevation destination in the northeast corner of Olympic National Park that from July to October can be reached by a steep and winding gravel road. Locals, however, know that you also can enjoy this mountain paradise before the road opens. That is by taking a quiet trail that climbs to the area from Forest Service land to the east. In fact, on a sunny day in late June it would be hard to imagine a more scenic hiking destination on the entire peninsula. The trip involves a stiff climb, so it's not for everyone, but for wildflowers, wildlife, and outstanding mountain views, it's hard to beat.
The trail is usually hikable from June to October. Mid-to-late June is ideal to see 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.
Note:Opportunities for photos and wildlife viewing are better in the mornings.
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 surface, 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 pull out and trailhead on the right.
The trail goes south from the parking lot, initially on an old gravel road that is now closed to vehicles. After only 15 yards the trial splits. Go straight on Deer Ridge Trail and very gradually ascend on the forested hillside well above the old road. There are frequently 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, then at 1.2 miles you round a prominent ridge and come to a nice open viewpoint. The broad summit of Baldy fills the sky to the south towering above the green depths of the Gray Wolf River Canyon.
About 40 yards after this first good viewpoint, 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 outcropping on your left with nice views, although this time the views are 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. A local hiking club installed these benches 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 the high winds here, provide excellent frames for fine 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 get views to the east of Puget Sound and Glacier Peak in the Cascade Range.
At about 3.5 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, although 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, although 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 paintbrush, spreading phlox, smooth douglasia, and lomatium.
The hiking is now easy and supremely 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 over 0.2 mile on the open southern slopes of Blue Mountain to a gravel turnaround and trailhead parking area off the Deer Park Road.
If you have 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 following an old road and nature trails to the summit of Blue Mountain with it wide 360" views.
Tip: If you want a very easy hike, wait until the 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 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 ContentsOlympic National Park Map
Olympic National Park Trails Table
Using Top Trails
Organization of Top Trails
Choosing a Trail
Introduction to Olympic National Park
Geography & Topography
When to Go
Weather and Seasons
On the Trail
Have a Plan
Carry the Essentials
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 and 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 Goblin's Gate Geyser Valley Loop
22 Dodger Point
23 Lake Angeles and Heather Park Loop
24 Cirque Rim and Sunrise Ridge
25 Hurricane Hill
26 Elk Mountain
27 Grand Valley and Grand Pass
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