The first time Ford and I hiked the Badger Valley Loop in Olympic National Park Ford was a small child, I think we did it in the late summer/early fall of 2002. The drive out to Obstruction Point is big reason some never do the hike. The drive up to Hurricane Ridge goes fast, but the turn off to Obstruction Point is a dirt road, often dusty and sometimes narrow. The last section of the road is gorgeous to drive, with views on all sides. The first bit of road can be nerve wracking if you don’t like exposure.
Park at the end of the road, and set out on the Obstruction Point Trail (towards Elk Mountain). The trail cuts across a dry ridge, with nary a tree. The alpine tundra here calls for a large sunhat and if you use it, a lot of sun block.
The trail to Badger Valley cuts down quickly into alpine, then subalpine. It is a set of wide switchbacks that don’t waste time.
The trail cuts up a bit onto the next ridge, then winds down. (There is a side trail that comes down from father along Obstruction Trail).
As the trail drops into Badger Valley, the wildflowers become thick.
The drop in is just sublime.
The first time I hiked the trail it was early fall and the hills were tawny in color.
As the trail drops lower, the meadows stop and the trail drops into forest, coming in and out of sunny areas, crossing a couple minor water crossings. As the trail turns into Grand Valley the trail hits the lowest section and reaches the stream, and then meadows, then Grand Lake.
The trail to make the loop is at the far end of the lake. Enjoy the lake, soak up the views of the peaks…then start uphill.
The trail pulls up quickly, going along a ridge, and then cutting up. The views only get better with every step.
Pulling up into alpine, then alpine tundra.
Nearing the top of the ridge.
Once you reach the ridge, the trail goes along the top, following it.
With the parking lot in view, to the right, and Obstruction Road visible in the middle (in the distance).
On the ridge we walked through wildflowers.
The last section went through a neat flat top.
Looking back at the highest peaks in the interior.
At the end the trail goes down the ridge to meet the parking area.
The ancient privies at the trailhead in the parking area (they would get replaced soon).
It is a long hike, with a lot of elevation gain and loss. It is however a lonely trail through Badger Valley where chances are you won’t see anyone else. Just the wind and sun to keep you company.