Klahhane Ridge via Switchback Trail | Olympic National Park


Olympic National Park is a playground for adventurers of every skill level. Families with small children can enjoy the short nature loops of Hoh Rainforest while skilled hikers can apply for backpacking permits to meander across the Olympic Range. For those with just enough time to complete a longer hike, but may not be equipped for a backpacking trip, Klahhane Ridge via Switchback Trail is one of those sweet paths that fall right in the middle of beginner and intermediate. All you’ll really need for this trail is a great pair of hiking boots, strong legs, and a lot of patience. Oh, and your day hike essentials.


There are a few other ways to hike to Klahhane Ridge, but taking the Switchback Trail shaves off a few hours and keeps the trail fairly straightforward as an out-and-back trek. On our way up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center, we saw a pull-off just beneath a small waterfall. After parking safely to the side, we began our hike on the trail to the right of the stream.


As we made our way up the trail, we found ourselves shrouded in old-growth forests veiled in faint green moss. We took our time as we wandered and half-hoped to encounter wildlife peeking through the green. Luckily for us, we caught a black bear and her two cubs about a half a mile away (and we kept that distance between us). 


Once above the tree line, we were afforded incredible 180 views of the Olympic range. Still, we didn’t get too excited; there are quite a few switchbacks left to conquer until reaching Klahhane Ridge. Our burning legs were soothed by the cool wind of late May, and while we couldn’t wait to reach the top, we found ourselves stopping to breathe in the crisp air and let our gaze wander into the mountains beyond.


To our surprise, the top of the trail was covered in snow and shrouded the last portion of our trek. Not wanting to explore while feeling unprepared, we welcomed the break as a chance to rest our legs before coming back down. (We attempted to make it through, but it took exactly one drop into two feet of snow before we phoned it in).


We still have so much of Olympic National Park left to explore, but Klahhane Ridge via Switchback Trail gave us a taste of the hikes we can look forward to in the future. And baby, we are craving more. What are your favorite hikes in Olympic National Park?