Heather Park Trail, Heart O' The Hills Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington

Heather Park Trail - 11.8 miles

Heart O' The Hills Trailhead

View across the South Branch Little River Valley on the Heather Park Trail

View across the South Branch Little River Valley on the Heather Park Trail

Round-Trip Length: 11.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 1,856' - 5,912' (max elevation at Klahhane Ridge junction)
Elevation Change: +4,056' net elevation gain (+5,110' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Heather Park Trail - 11.8 Miles Round-Trip

The Heather Park Trail runs 5.9 miles from Heart O The Hills Trailhead to Klahhane Ridge in Olympic National Park. This challenging hike climbs 3700' in just 4.1 miles to Heather Park, where it begins a rugged trek around Second Top and the shoulder of Mt Angeles to Klahhane Ridge.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Expect steep snowfields between Heather Park and Klahhane Ridge through early July. An ice ax and crampons may be necessary. Portions of the trail can be difficult to follow, particularly across avalanche chutes and scree slopes. Good map and route finding skills are advised even without snow.

Your effort is rewarded with exceptional views on lengthy sections over treeline, abundant flowers and good wildlife viewing (especially goats, which are frequently seen among the crags).

Once on Klahhane Ridge you'll have the option to continue on an equidistant loop via Lake Angeles back to the trailhead, or split off for the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. This option requires a two-car shuttle, but is a very worthwhile plan:

The Heather Park Trail rises fast on a straight-line path that gains 900' in the first mile (1.0 miles : 2,780'). Steep switchbacks lead past the No Fire sign (1.9 miles : 3,735') as the forest rapidly transitions from lowland to montane to subalpine compositions (3.0 miles : 4,750'). Thick timber gives way to flower-covered slopes with views stretching out to the strait (3.6 miles : 5,175').

Quick switchbacks lead to a cluster of serviceable campsites by a creek (3.7 miles : 5,250'); these small but sheltered sites may be preferable to ones in Heather Park if very windy. The trail gradually moderates into Heather Park, an airy treeline meadow on the shoulder of Second Top (4.1 miles : 5,605'). Travel can be more challenging and less predictable beyond this point.

The trail continues through Heather Park to a crest, then loses definition while diving down an avalanche chute to find a clear path veering left 115' below. Anticipate picking up the trail here, as you don't want to miss it and have to climb back up. 

The trail undulates up the west side of Second Top on steep sections of loose terrain (4.6 miles : 5,570'). Proper gear and self-arrest skills are necessary with snow coverage. Switchbacks tighten past a wide slide area to a saddle between Second Top and Mount Angeles (5.1 miles : 5,838').

Here it drops sharply on switchbacks, following what's little more than a goat track through scree into a basin at the foot of Mount Angeles (5.7 miles : 5,665'). Cross this oft-snow covered basin for one last steep push to Klahhane Ridge (5.9 miles : 5,912').

A sign points left for Lake Angeles, and right for Hurricane Ridge. The Lake Angeles option continues along Klahhane Ridge, drops to Lake Angeles and returns to Heart O The Hills. Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is located 3.7 miles from this point (shuttle required).

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N48 02.347 W123 25.908 — 0.0 miles : Heart O The Hills Trailhead
  • N48 02.159 W123 26.392 — .5 miles : Steep, steady climb in fir-hemlock forest
  • N48 01.981 W123 26.699 — 1.0 miles : Steep, steady climb
  • N48 01.851 W123 26.931 — 1.5 miles : Steep, steady climb
  • N48 01.716 W123 27.077 — 1.9 miles : No fires beyond this point
  • N48 01.280 W123 27.195 — 2.6 miles : Montane - Subalpine forest transition
  • N48 01.040 W123 27.111 — 3.0 miles : Breaks in forest with views
  • N48 00.682 W123 27.445 — 3.6 miles : Pass a few small campsites by creek
  • N48 00.566 W123 27.666 — 4.05 miles : Level off in Heather Park (5,600')
  • N48 00.528 W123 27.737 — 4.1 miles : Drop down avalanche chute behind Heather Park
  • N48 00.192 W123 27.716 — 4.6 miles : Rugged, undulating travel
  • N48 00.075 W123 27.697 — 4.8 miles : Cross big slide; trail very vague
  • N47 59.990 W123 27.608 — 5.1 miles : Steep climb crests atop ridge (5,835')
  • N47 59.814 W123 27.577 — 5.35 miles : Steep, winding descent below Mt Angeles
  • N47 59.714 W123 27.575 — 5.7 miles : Cross big snowfield (spring-early summer)
  • N47 59.598 W123 27.578 — 5.9 miles : Klahhane Ridge - Hurricane Ridge Access junction

Worth Noting

  • Expect steep snowfields between Heather Park and Klahhane Ridge through early July. An ice ax and crampons may be necessary on these sections. Even without snow cover, portions of the trail can be difficult to follow between Heather Park and the Klahhane Ridge Trail junction.
  • The trail is fully exposed between Heather Park and Klahhane Ridge. Anticipate variable temperatures and weather conditions throughout the day. 

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • 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 per person - per night fee to backcountry camp in Olympic National Park (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.
  • Alternatively you may self-register at the trailhead. Forms and pay envelopes are provided.
  • There are no quotas or required reservations. Campsites are not individually assigned, but available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
  • Camp only in established sites to minimize environmental impact.
  • Food Storage: Bear canisters are not required, but are recommended.
  • Fires: Campfires are permitted up to 3,500'. Fires are not permitted at Lake Angeles.

Fishing Information

  • A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
  • A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
  • Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
  • The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $25 entrance fee to Olympic National Park ($50 annual pass).
  • Stock is permitted on the Heather Park Trail, but for day-use only. Only experienced riders and stock animals should attempt this trail.
  • Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.

Directions to Trailhead

The Heather Park Trail begins at the Heart O' The Hills Trailhead, 5.2 miles from the Visitor Center in Port Angeles.

Bear right on Hurricane Ridge Road just past the Visitor Center in Port Angeles. Drive 5 miles to a sign for Lake Angeles, located just before the Entrance Station. Follow signs .1 mile to the trailhead.

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)
360.565.3100

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
360.374.6925

Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877

Quinault Wilderness Information Office
360.288.0232

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"Still some sketchy snowfields on the backside of Heather Park, and if the fog settles in over those north-facing basins, it can be very hard to navigate. And watch out for those goats - they're everywhere up there!"
Sam McKenzie  -   -  Date Posted: June 24, 2016

 

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