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Outdoor adventures, mostly gravel rides, but not always

Grand & Badger Valley

A spectacular loop hike of two valleys of meadows, lakes, and streams

By the Numbers

Pyramid
An inverted pyramid, starting at the high point, descending, then uphill to the trailhead
Distance
10 miles
Elevation
3095 feet
Moving Time
3h30m
Nutrition
The trail along Lillian Ridge is dry, otherwise water is plentiful, especially by the lakes and in Badger Valley
Logistics
The trailhead is at the end of Obstruction Point Road which is reached after driving up Hurricane Ridge road
External

The smoke cleared so R. and I decided to return to Hurricane Ridge for a full-day loop of the Grand and Badger Valleys. I had last been to the area in 2013 so I was looking forward to a return trip and seeing some trails I had never covered or didn’t see because eight years ago we covered the trail in a complete fog whiteout.

While planning, we somehow went from our usual day hike | run to full-on adventure complete with fly-fishing, fresh lakeside coffee, and a delicious lunch of rice, beans, and harissa sauce. I was looking forward to the extended time out and was especially excited to venture out onto the trails beyond Obstruction Point again.

Obstruction Point Road

Obstruction Point Road
Obstruction Point Road

I love this road even though it has quite the reputation. It’s arguably more fun by bike but I enjoy driving it as well. For a gravel road it’s well maintained and while it has some exposure it’s mostly fully protected by the woods. The views are wonderful and other than the massive dust storms kicked up by the vehicles in front of us, the driving was easy and enjoyable.

Trail

Impressive stone work on the Lillian Ridge trail
Impressive stone work on the Lillian Ridge trail

The trail system from Obstruction Point is well maintained and had an impressive rock staircase along Lillian Ridge.

Looking down into the tarns of Grand Valley
Looking down into the tarns of Grand Valley
Trail along Lillian Ridge
Trail along Lillian Ridge
R. sky running
R. sky running

The Lillian Ridge Trail is a gently graded trail with very modest undulations as it makes its way towards the Grand Pass Trail. Our plan had been to to take the Lillian Ridge Trail over Moose Peak and continue on the Grand Pass Trail past Gladys, Moose, and Grand Lakes. However, as we made our way to a high point on the trail, we didn’t feel comfortable going through the scree fields of shale so we retreated back along the ridge to the junction of the Lillian Ridge and Grand Pass Trails. This is the classic Grand Valley loop and had the upside of providing more time at Grand Lake for fishing, coffee, and lunch.

Grand Pass trail leading to Grand Lake
Grand Pass trail leading to Grand Lake
Wonderful meadows
Wonderful meadows
First glimpses of Grand Lake
First glimpses of Grand Lake

After connecting back with the Grand Pass Trail, it was all descending to Grand Lake. The dusty trail switchbacks its way from the ridge through meadows and finally forest. There’s little cover from the midday sun until you get closer to Grand Lake.

Lakeside coffee
Lakeside coffee

We don’t often have extended breaks during our hikes so it was quite the treat to take the time to fish, enjoy fresh coffee, and eat a leisurely lunch.

I had really high hopes for the fishing and along the way we heard from hikers about the prolific jumping fish. My last trip here was one of my best ever fishing days, particularly at one of the inlets of Grand Lake.

Sadly on this day, with the sun directly over head, the fish activity died down significantly and we only managed a few strikes and one small fish to hand. Nonetheless, I never tire of casting a dry fly to a rising trout.

Departing Grand Lake
Departing Grand Lake
One of the many stream crossings in Badger Valley
One of the many stream crossings in Badger Valley
One of the many large meadows in Badger Valley
One of the many large meadows in Badger Valley
R. leading the way
R. leading the way
Lush green valley
Lush green valley

While I enjoyed the Grand Pass Trail with its sweeping views, the hike out along the Badger Valley Trail felt more familiar with its frequent streams and deep woods. The meadows through Badger Valley were some of the largest I’ve seen in the Olympics; they were filled with flowers, bees, marmot holes, and animals with large ears hiding among the bushes. I had never been on this trail before and it certainly captured my imagination.

And like any good trail in the Olympics it eventually points up, steeply.

Switchbacks leading up from Badger Valley
Switchbacks leading up from Badger Valley
Perfect switchbacks heading to Obstruction Point
Perfect switchbacks heading to Obstruction Point

We paused to enjoy the colors and patterns on the switchbacks leading from Badger Valley in the afternoon sun before returning to the truck and the long drive home.

Flowers, Bees, & Berries

Late wildflower color
Late wildflower color
Explorer's Gentian
Explorer’s Gentian

As usual, I was fascinated with the wildflowers and excited to see Explorer’s Gentian along the trails. It’s a late blooming variety and added color throughout the day.

Huckleberries!
Huckleberries!

The first huckleberries of the year for me were sweet and delicious.

Bees and thistles
Bees and thistles

I love to photograph bees in flowers, and in particular, am a fan of bees & thistles.

Route

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