Little River Trail to Hurricane Ridge, Little River Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington

Little River Trail to Hurricane Ridge - 18.0 miles

Little River Trailhead

Cascades along South Branch Little River

Cascades along South Branch Little River

Round-Trip Length: 18.0 miles (includes 1 mile roundtrip to Hurricane Hill Trailhead)
Start-End Elevation: 1,050' - 5,105'
Elevation Change: +4,055' net elevation gain (+4,280' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Little River Trail to Hurricane Ridge - 18.0 Miles Round-Trip

South Branch Little River forms on the northern slopes of Hurricane Ridge and joins the main stem just outside Olympic National Park in Port Angeles. The Little River Trail follows the river through lowland, montane and subalpine forests to its headwaters on the open slopes of Hurricane Ridge. This long and diverse trail gains over 4000’, most of which occurs on the last 4.5 miles. 

Trail Map | Photo Gallery
Those who travel the entire distance will enjoy scenic cascades along the river, large trees in the bottomlands, and flower-studded meadows above treeline: 

The trail drops from Little River Road to a wide bridge over the river (.15 miles : 945'). It undulates away in a mostly second-growth forest to the Olympic National Park boundary (1.4 miles), past which fir and cedar grow markedly larger. Steep granite walls line the trail, where you'll see signs of old mining efforts (1.7 miles : 1,065’).

It drops back across the river to a nice campsite near the confluence of Cowen Creek (2.0 miles), and follows the bank up to Little River Falls (2.75 miles : 1,300'). The trail rises to another major cascade and bridge crossing at 3.5 miles (1,590'). The cascades are partially obscured from the bridge; a little maneuvering reveals the full set.

Once across travel steepens considerably on switchbacks away from the river (4.0 miles : 1,775'). It crosses back over (4.65 miles : 2,180’) and maintains a steady, steep grade as water volume noticeably diminishes (6.25 miles : 3,390').

Travel steadies until crossing the river a final time (7.0 miles : 3,700') and bending sharply away on a steep push for the ridge (7.5 miles : 3,930'). Timber thins with emerging views of Mount Angeles and Hurricane Hill (8.0 miles : 4,435').

A final set of switchbacks moderate across high meadows on Hurricane Ridge (8.6 miles : 5,080'); turn left to reach Hurricane Hill Trailhead (9.0 miles : 5,105').

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N48 03.435 W123 30.078 — 0.0 miles: Little River Trailhead - 1,050'
  • N48 03.411 W123 30.118 — 0.3 miles: Bear left at split to remain on LR Trail - 1,030'
  • N48 03.216 W123 30.330 — 0.5 miles: Level trail through lowland forest - 1,025'
  • N48 02.848 W123 30.138 — 1.0 miles: Undulating trail through lowland forest - 1,030'
  • N48 02.575 W123 30.113 — 1.4 miles: Enter Olympic National Park - 1,045'
  • N48 02.377 W123 30.103 — 1.7 miles: Old mine sites off trail - 1,065'
  • N48 02.207 W123 29.961 — 2.0 miles: Huge down fir tree - Cross river - 1,165'
  • N48 01.861 W123 29.594 — 2.75 miles: Little River Falls - 1,300'
  • N48 01.459 W123 29.312 — 3.5 miles: River crossing - good turnaround point - 1,590'
  • N48 01.150 W123 29.160 — 4.0 miles: Begin major ascent - 1,775'
  • N48 00.839 W123 29.414 — 4.5 miles: Continued ascent through forest - 2,015'
  • N48 00.532 W123 29.481 — 5.0 miles: Increasingly challenging ascent through forest - 2,425'
  • N47 59.634 W123 30.120 — 6.2 miles: Ascending above river - 3,390'
  • N47 59.085 W123 30.384 — 7.0 miles: Cross river - views of Hurricane Ridge emerge - 3,700'
  • N47 59.000 W123 30.582 — 7.5 miles: Steep ascent towards Hurricane Ridge - 3,930'
  • N47 59.013 W123 30.912 — 8.0 miles: Final push to top of Hurricane Ridge - 4,435'
  • N47 58.874 W123 31.365 — 8.5 miles: Top of Hurricane Ridge - turn left - 5,080'
  • N47 58.598 W123 31.068 — 9.0 miles: Hurricane Hill Trailhead - 5,105'

Worth Noting

  • The Little River Trail starts in state land then enters the park after 1.4 miles. Dogs are not permitted beyond this point.
  • Anticipate down trees along the way, and variable weather conditions at higher elevations. 
  • The trail can be an easier one-way trek by leaving a shuttle car at Hurricane Ridge or the Little River Trailhead.

Camping and Backpacking Information

There are several great places to backcountry camp along the Little River Trail. If camping within Olympic National Park boundaries, specific rules apply:

Backcountry Camping in Olympic National Park

  • Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

  • There's a $5 registration fee per group, + $2 per person per night (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time.

  • Camp only in established sites.

  • Food Storage: Bear canisters are required in specified locations. Where not required they're strongly recommended.

  • Fires are not permitted above 3,500'.

Fishing Information

Fishing is permitted with a valid WA state fishing license. Always check with the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park for local and seasonal regulations.

Rules and Regulations

  • If accessing the trail from Hurricane Ridge, a $20 entry fee to Olympic National Park is required. A NW Forest pass is required to park at the Little River Trailhead. Olympic NP and NPS rules apply beyond the 1.4 mile boundary.
  • No dogs, weapons or bikes allowed on the Little River Trail within park boundaries.
  • Backcountry camping requires a valid permit.
  • No open fires above 3000'.

Directions to Trailhead

From Port Angeles, drive west on Highway 101 for 7.5 miles to the Elwha Valley - Olympic National Park turnoff. Turn left onto Olympic Hot Springs Road and then turn left quickly again onto Little River Road.

Drive 3.4 miles and turn right to remain on Little River Road. Continue .25 miles to the Little River Trailhead (parking on left side of road - trailhead on right side of road).

Contact Information

Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798

Visitor Information: 360.565.3130

Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131

Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center

Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877

Quinault Wilderness Information Office

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Snow patches start around 4,250', then continuous drifts on last .5 miles to Hurricane Ridge. It's navigable with the help of orange flags on trees as you pass through treeline. No post-holing over deep drifts (on a recent cold day), but as things warm I'd expect more punching through. "
Karen Sacher  -   -  Date Posted: May 24, 2016


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