Switchback Trail offers a highway toward heaven

No matter how much you dislike going uphill, the Switchback Trail is a route that you can learn to love.

It's short and it's steep but it's short. And, for most of its steady climb, it hangs glued to the side of Mount Angeles and offers the hiker a variety of truly wonderful views.

The Switchback Trail is officially only 0.6 of a mile long, but to really get your money's worth you have to add at least an additional mile on the Mount Angeles Trail until it meets the Klahhane Ridge Trail - and then add some more time on the Klahhane Ridge Trail until it begins to go downhill (another mile or so).

So, in essence, I'm suggesting that you actually make a 0.6-mile hike into 2.6 miles or even a little farther.

Get your goat

Yes, it is just about all uphill. But between the views, the rock formations beside the trail, the wildflowers in spring and summer and the very real possibility of meeting a curious mountain goat; it's a wonderful hike.


It's easy to get to, right up Hurricane Ridge Road. It is the quickest route to the top of the world with the possible exception of a drive up to Deer Park. You very quickly escape the crowds. The views are terrific.

And, unless you're a purist and believe that the goats don't belong here, the likelihood of seeing one increases with every step you take.

Anyway, it's a wonderful walk once you accept your shortness of breath and frequent rest stops. Past the junction of the Klahhane and Mount Angeles trails, you find yourself in a rocky, fairy-tale garden and can look down into the heart of Lake Dawn.

Another reason to love this trail is because so many other hikers shun it as being either too close, too short, too easy or too difficult.

Teeny but awesome

For me, this teeny trail gives me the same high that I got by climbing hours up Tyler Peak. After a few miles, it's as desolate as anywhere you can go in the park. And once you begin to go down toward Lake Angeles, it begins to feel like Alaska with bare rock mountain sides.

Just remember to keep going and to keep an open mind.

Richard Olmer can be reached at

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates