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Grand Valley

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In a park where more than a few valleys can vie for the name "grand", this one is the grand contender. A necklace of sparkling alpine lakes adorning bold mountain faces spans this mile-high valley. Wildflowers, old growth, alpine tundra, deer, marmots, bear-they're all here in this outdoor cathedral. Your ticket into this wild kingdom comes at minimal cost-the trail is mostly downhill on a good grade, though you do pay the piper on the way out on a grueling ascent. But it's all worth it.

The quickest way into Grand Valley is via the Grand Pass Trail, climbing along Obstruction Ridge and then brutally descending to Grand Lake. Consider this loop as an alternative. Sure, it's longer and, sure, there's more overall climbing involved, but the gentle descent will save your knees and you'll get to traverse the quiet Badger Valley en route. Bursting with flowered meadows and fluttering with animal activity, this valley is neglected by those in a hurry to get to Grand Valley. Don't expect any badgers, though-it was named after a ranger's horse. There are lots of Olympic marmots, however-close enough.

Start by heading toward Grand Ridge, making a right turn after 0.2 mile onto the Badger Valley Trail. Descend in the wide U-shaped valley, hopping over rivulets and brushing against clumps of fragrant greenery. Try not to fall into a marmot burrow.

After passing the Elk Mountain cutoff at 1.1 miles, enter subalpine forest. Undulating between meadow and forest, cross Badger Creek at 2.8 miles (elev. approx. 4000 ft). Then, with Grand Creek at your side, begin the gradual climb to Grand Lake. The forest thins as you ascend and cross brushy avalanche chutes and march over glacial moraine. After gaining 800 feet in just under 2 miles, come to a marshy area that announces that Grand Lake is nearby.

It's a pretty big lake in a pretty big bowl. Cascading waters from above echo over the placid lake waters. Grand Lake is appealing, but the next lake is much grander. Proceed on stones steps and tight switchbacks through a flower-studded meadow of swaying golden grasses to a junction. Your return is via the trail right. Head left. After an easy 0.5 mile, emerge on an open ledge above the sparkling waters of Moose Lake (elev. 5075 ft)-like Badger Valley, a misnomer. There are no moose here; the lake was named for Frank Moose, whoever he was.

With easily one of the most spectacular backdrops of any Olympic alpine lake, Moose is surrounded by black-shale pinnacles garlanded with verdant forest. Roam the lakeshore-the open ledge yields to grassy shoreline. Share the crystal waters with fly-snapping trout.

When you must relinquish this grand kingdom to the deer and marmots, prepare yourself for the excruciating exodus. The trail back climbs 1400 steep feet in 2.4 miles. Look back over your shoulder while catching your breath. Grand Valley's aquatic jewels twinkle in the late afternoon sunlight.

Once you crest Obstruction Ridge, enjoy nearly 2 miles of alpine tundra with sweeping views over the Lillian River valley all the way to Olympus. Grunt up one last speed bump, and then enjoy a downhill glide to close the loop.

Driving Directions:

From Port Angeles leave US 101 near milepost 249, following Race Street south 1.2 miles to Hurricane Ridge Road (Heart o' the Hills Parkway) and passing the Olympic National Park Visitors Center and Wilderness Information Center. Proceed on the Hurricane Ridge Road for almost 17.5 miles. Just before the large parking lot at Hurricane Ridge, make a sharp turn on Obstruction Point Road. Follow this narrow (and harrowing to some) gravel road 7.7 miles to its end at the trailhead. Privy available.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 38 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Grand Valley — Sep 10, 2013 — Alpine Art
Day hike
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Jeff and I did a loop from Obstruction Point to Grand Lake via Badger and Grand Valleys and back via...
Jeff and I did a loop from Obstruction Point to Grand Lake via Badger and Grand Valleys and back via Lillian Ridge? to our vehicle.

The hike was about 9.5 miles in length and started with a down hill drop to Badger Valley (did someone mistake marmots for badgers?) which varied between steep and pleasant to a crossing of Badger Creek and then following Grand Creek to Grand Lake (about 3 hours of hiking). Deer and marmots were around to see on this part of the hike along with meadows and some remaining flowers.

Fall colors are beginning to be seen as I suspect nights (unlike our day) are cool to maybe freezing. Not many people on the trails but we did meet a couple who did the hike in the reverse direction we walked and met back at OP at the end of the hike.

The walk up to "Lillian Ridge" (not sure if this is the correct name for the ridge to the east of the Lillian River Valley) was a real slog - I should have brought more water. Once on the ridge views of Mt. Olympus and other ranges could be had.

We had a great day! Note to all Obstruction Point Road is in good shape (some wash board but no real problems). Road is due to maintenance shortly so this hike may not be possible after September 23rd).
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Grand Valley — Aug 21, 2013 — thebrink
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Water on trail | Bugs
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Obstruction Point road is open and it's usual dusty self. There were 25 to 30 cars in the parking ar...
Obstruction Point road is open and it's usual dusty self. There were 25 to 30 cars in the parking area when we arrived, but since the trails in the hiking area are spread out we didn't run into a lot of people on the trail.

We hiked down the Badger Valley Trail to Grand Lake, had lunch with the resident bugs, and went on to Moose Lake before hiking the grind up the Grand Valley Trail. Overall both trails are in good condition with lots of wildflowers along the way and a few marmots running around. One thing to watch for right on the trail, particularly the Badger Valley Trail are the marmot dens holes where the tread is.
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Grand Valley — Jul 20, 2013 — acbukowski
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail | Bugs | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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Stopped in Port Angeles to get our backcountry camping permits and found out the road to the trailhe...
Stopped in Port Angeles to get our backcountry camping permits and found out the road to the trailhead is closed about half way down the road. So we tacked on at least 3 extra miles of road hiking to each side of our hike. It's a beautiful road, so it wasn't too much of a loss. But it would make making this a day hike, a bit more of an issue.

The Olympics were OUT and beautiful, as were the wildflowers. We unintentionally did the reverse of what the description suggests. That is, we headed toward Moose Lake (about 4.3 miles) once we got to the Obstruction Ridge parking lot. It was mostly ridge hiking for the entire day, with enough breeze to keep the bugs away. We only saw a few day hikers and mostly had the place to ourselves. Absolutely stunning panoramas. The descent to Moose Lake is steep and wooded.

The bugs were pretty bad as we set up camp and made dinner. We were the first to make it to the lake and enjoyed a quick swim. Other campers rolled in to the various Moose Lake spots as the night wore on. We didn't find the bear wire at first, but if you carry on the trail past the compost toilet, there's a wood log bridge to your left and following that path will take you to a little sign "bear wire" which leads up a hill where the wire is hidden.

The deer (as the Ranger warned) were obnoxious. Per the Ranger's request/suggestion, we threw rocks to get them to leave us alone, but they were all around us all night, trying to lick up any salt that we left. They flipped over my pack in the morning to lick the sweat and tried to take my Tom shoe from our tent vestibule to get at the salt my feet leave behind. Sort of put a damper on things.

In the morning we headed toward badger valley, hiking even further down on a wooded, buggy trail. The bugs and heat were intense.

There's nearly always water accessible if you came prepared with purification. We make a quick, steep ascent into badger valley which is AMAZING. After a snack/water break in the valley we carried on up back toward Obstruction via the pass. It was a full-on mountain pass, which perhaps wasn't the best choice for my fellow hiker and new-to-backpacking roommate.

The views and feeling of accomplishment at the top were incredible. Make sure to drink water and take care of blisters, it's a long haul! Back at the obstruction parking lot, we were relieved to be on the final leg. A few more miles to our car and we celebrated by driving straight to Port Angeles for pizza.
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Grand Valley — Sep 08, 2012 — bonuspoints
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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The road to the trailhead begins JUST before entering the parking lot to Hurricane Ridge. It is a v...
The road to the trailhead begins JUST before entering the parking lot to Hurricane Ridge. It is a very sharp left turn marked by signs (though the signs face the parking lot beyond, so I had to turn the car around to read them). The road to the trailhead is a narrow dirt road with a slightly nerve wracking drop-off straight into a was a long seven miles to the trailhead.

I arrived at the trailhead around 10:30 and the parking lot was already full, with cars beginning to park on the edges of the road. Two trails diverge from the parking lot, one off to Grand Ridge, the other to Grand Valley. Per my guide book, I started on the Grand Ridge trail, which after .2 miles comes to a fork. The left path climbs on to Grand Ridge, the right descends into Badger Valley and the Grand Valley loop.

The descent into Badger Valley was pretty. A deep valley with a small stream running through it to the forest in the distance. The trail alternates between grasslands and forest. The fields were alive with grasshoppers, more than I have ever before seen. I was pelted by the little buggers (at least five per step taken) for a good 10-15 minutes. Not a particularly pleasant aspect of the hike.

Climbing out of the woods, Grand Lake seems to come out of no where. There is a small fork on the left that leads to the edge of the lake. It was a beautiful shade of blue-green, hard to capture with my camera. Walk back to the main trail and a little farther on it forks again, left to a campground, right to continue the loop (or detour to Moose Lake).

Moose Lake was very clear, trout biting and mountains rising around the perimeter. I had a picnic on the shore, with the occasional hiker passing by (though strangely,none came down to the lake). Head back to the main trail and begin switchbacking up the mountain and climb a barren ridge. The last couple miles back to the trailhead offer wonderful mountain views across the valleys.
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Grand Valley — Sep 01, 2012 — B_Ritchie
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
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Did the loop hike as described: down through Badger Valley, and back up from Grand Valley. A very n...
Did the loop hike as described: down through Badger Valley, and back up from Grand Valley. A very nice hike with a great sampler of Olympic terrain, from bare mountaintops to meadows to deep forest to a couple of lovely lakes.

No major issues at all -- road in was decent, nothing more than a couple of muddy or slightly overgrown patches on the trial, and no bugs to speak of (a pleasant surprise, given the number of flies I've seen at Hurricane Ridge or Deer Park). Badger Valley fogged up as we were leaving and fog came up all the way to the ridgeline, but the trail as still clear.

The wildflowers are mostly over, but there are a few good spots in the high country near the start and the end of the trail. The blueberry bushes and some other foliage are also starting to turn orange/red for the fall. Still a good number of ripe blueberries on the valley floor and towards the beginning of the hike back up to the top.

We also saw a number of deer -- one doe with a fawn near Moose Lake, one more on the ascent out of Grand Valley.

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Grand Valley.jpg
The trail to Grand Valley in the Olympics. Photo by Bill Prolsdorfer.
Grand Valley (#88)
Olympics -- North
Olympic National Park
Roundtrip 9.8 miles
Elevation Gain 2400 ft
Highest Point 6450 ft
Old growth
Established campsites
User info
Dogs not allowed
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Elwha North-Hurricane Ridge No. 134S
Custom Correct Hurricane Ridge

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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