http://www.cooltrails.com/ or http://www.wta.org/ as a good list of hikes for the Northwest. wta.org also sells annual Northwest Forest Passes online (required for parking in the massive Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest).
Washington Pictures (33 pictures)
Mount St. Helens: Ape Cave Directions: I5 to hwy 503 to Mount St. Helens park. Turn left onto 83 and follow the signs to Ape Cave. Day use pass is $5 for St. Helens park [note: the National Parks Pass does not work for St. Helens (it's part of a National Forest)] Day pass can be bought at the ranger station. Also pick up a lantern at the ranger station for $2 and driver's license (highly recommend using a lantern in addition to a flashlight). Note: The ranger station did not open until 10 am. Trails: From the ranger station, take a short walk to the cave entrance and then a metal staircase down into the cave. The cave is an old lava tube. The rangers do a guided tour for a small section of the cave at set times (I think every 1.5 hours). If you arrive (or get done with exploring the cave) around when a tour is starting and haven't done the tour before, do so - the tour gives the history of the cave and points out things you probably wouldn't notice yourself. [I did the tour 3 years ago.] The lower cave (to the right) is 3/4 mile to the end and is a very easy hike (which fools you for what the upper cave is like). I did the hike alone and for the hike to the end it was extremely quiet and spooky - imagine being in a subway tunnel by yourself with just a lantern. [The walk back to the entrance (and the start of the upper cave) was noisy with a bunch of kids coming down.] Then there is the upper cave. Take all warnings about the upper cave being a tough hike for experienced people only seriously. The upper cave goes for about 1 1/4 miles and will seem longer. There are a number of lava rock mounds to scramble over and around along the way. Then, about half way through, you come face to face with a wall. It's a 9 foot wall with only one true foot hold. You basically have to use that one foot hold to get yourself halfway up the wall and get hand holds over the top and then pull yourself the rest of the way up. Fortunately, a guy and two boys were there the same time as I was and we helped each other get up the wall (once you get that far, you don't want to turn back). Once you get past the wall, you still have a ways to go. After a few more rock scrambles (including one where I banged my knee pretty good), there is a 6 foot wall. This one has a number of foot holds and wasn't too difficult to get over (I didn't need help, except for handing up the lantern). There will be 2 skylights before you hit the end of the cave and a metal ladder climb up and out of the cave. You then have a 1 1/4 mile uneventful hike back to the car. For this hike you will want to wear jeans (not shorts) and have a light jacket over short sleeves - the lower cave gets cool, but you'll want to take the jacket off after the first big rock scramble for the upper cave. If you don't think you could get up the wall, you could go in reverse - hike to the exit and enter the cave down the ladder. I don't know if I'd want to do this as the cave angles up and you'd be descending large lava rock piles instead of ascending. Area: The cave is on the back side of St. Helens (not seriously affected by the 1980 blast). The above ground area is a woodsy area with thin trees and some visible remains of old lava flows. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, July 27, 2000 Recommendation: One of the funkiest hikes I've ever done. This is one that you read about and just have to do (Hike a lava tube? Cool!). Be forewarned that the upper cave is a very tough hike. A once in a lifetime experience - you do it once, talk about the hike, but wouldn't do it a second time.
Mount St. Helens: Windy Ridge to Loowit Falls Directions: 25 to 99 to the end (Windy Ridge parking lot - park at the end). Day use pass is $5 for St. Helens park [note: the National Parks Pass does not work for St. Helens (it's part of a National Forest)] (If you do not already have the day pass, you have to stop and purchase one at the restaurant half way up 99 - they don't sell them at the top.) Trails: The trail starts at the far end of the parking lot and is a dirt road for 2 miles. The trail first goes around behind a mountain (so, no views of St. Helens to start). Once you get around the mountain and start heading down into the glacier and ash flow valley, there are _awesome_ views of St. Helens. At the end of the dirt road, there is a trail that goes to the right along the dry river bed (melted glacier flow), but the trail you want is straight ahead and goes directly in front of St. Helens - you should shortly be heading up the ridge on the far side of the washout (if you are not, you are on the wrong trail - look for the snow poles sticking up to the left). The dirt/ash trail (not too dusty) goes directly in front of St. Helen's (the cone itself is off limits) and crosses 2 streams with some greenery around it and crosses a couple of small lava flows. After a bit, you can see 200 ft Loowit Falls in the distance. After about 2 miles from the end of the dirt road, there is a sign saying Loowit Falls .2 miles to the left - it's a steep .2 miles that likely will have you huffing (the only strenuous part of the hike). The trail ends at an overlook near the falls. It took me about 1 3/4 hours to get from the parking lot to the falls. Note: there is a way to get up to the rim (you can't go in the cone), but you have to have a hiking pass if you go above 4,800 feet and they only sell 100 of those per day. Trail Length: about 8 miles round trip (one-way trail) Area: Full views of Mount St. Helens. There are no trees and no shade. Lots of ash. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, July 27, 2000; Sunday, July 14, 2002 Recommendation: Up close and personal with a volcano? Way cool! And, amazingly, it wasn't crowded - I encountered only 3 people when I did this hike in 2002 on a beautiful, clear (my first non-cloudy trip to St. Helen's) Sunday afternoon [and there were a ton of people at the Windy Ridge area trudging up those many steps to the lookout]. If you go to St. Helen's, do this trail.
Alpine Lakes: Snow Lake and Gem Lake trail Directions: I90 to exit 52 (Snoqualmie Pass). Go down the road about a mile and park in the large parking for the Alpental ski area lot to the left. The trailhead is toward the end of the lot and on the right. $5 day Northwest Forest Pass (at ranger stations, but good luck finding a ranger station) or $30 annual (good cause) Northwest Forest Pass - can be bought online at http://www.wta.org) Trails: Don't fret, the wooded steps that start the trail don't last long. The trail starts climbing right away and you climb all the way to Snow Lake. The trail is about 1 1/2 person width (not narrow, but not wide enough for 2 people), mostly dirt with some small rocky areas and only contains about 4 switchbacks - yes, you are going over the lowest point of the ridge you see in the distance. Take the .5 mile Source Lake Overlook side trip. The lake is itty-bitty, but the small waterfalls to the right and flowing under patches of snow was wonderful. I could have sat there for hours. Once you get back to the main trail, the 4 switchbacks are ahead. At the "Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest" sign at the top of the ridge, take a short trip to the top of the boulder for your first view of Snow Lake. Then hike down into the granite bowl to the lake. It's about 3.5 miles from the trailhead to the lake (excluding the overlook side trip). Snow Lake is a large mountain lake. If you are going to Gem Lake, look straight ahead and the lake is over the lower ridge on the far side of Snow Lake. Hike the trail around Snow Lake and then head up to Gem Lake. We had lunch and feet soaking at Gem Lake (we also soaked our feet at Snow Lake before heading up out of the bowl). It took about 4.5 hours to get to Gem Lake (including Source Lake Overlook) - about 5.5 miles and 2,000 feet elevation gain. Area: Some trees (not dense), some tree free areas, mountains, mountain lakes. Bring your Off and lots of it. There are lots of bitting flies - they will drive you nuts. Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 2, 2000 Recommendation: Start early (before 9 am) to avoid the crowds. We started about 8 am and didn't encounter anyone until Gem Lake (but heard campers around Snow Lake). We passed lots of people who were heading up as we were heading down. Snow Lake is a wonderful large lake surrounded by a granite wall. I wasn't too impressed with Gem Lake. Unless you haven't been to many mountain lakes, I'd pass on the extra effort it takes to get all the way to Gem Lake, but definitely hike around Snow Lake (don't just stick to the near end).
Alpine Lakes: Rachel Lake and Rampart Lakes trail Directions: Take I90 east from Seattle, 12.5 miles past Snoqualmie Pass to exit 62 Stampede Pass/Lake Kachess. Go north 5 miles to the road's end. The Lake Kachess campground is to the right and another road heads left - take that road for 4 miles (Canyon Road #4930) to the parking lot (the road turns dirt along the way (but passable in a compact car). There is a toilet at the parking lot (no water). $5 day Northwest Forest Pass (at ranger stations, but good luck finding a ranger station) or $30 annual (good cause) Northwest Forest Pass - can be bought online at http://www.wta.org) Trails: The mostly one person width trail starts with a small climb and then levels out and goes along a stream and crosses through a couple of meadows. After a little over 2.5 miles of easy hiking, the trail starts going up, up, and up. The trail gains 1200 feet in a little less than 1.5 miles - it's not an exposed climb as there are still lots of trees, but that also means that the trail contains lots of roots. There are stretches where streams go down the trail. Midway up, the trail crosses in front of a pretty cascade fall (you're close to the top, but it's not at the top of the falls - still a bit to go). The snow hadn't fully melted when we did this hike in mid-July and we encountered 2 decent sized snow patches between crossing the falls and the lake, but the lake itself was clear. Rachel Lake is a mid-sized pretty mountain lake and a good lunch spot. The way to the Rampart Lakes is to the right as you face Rachel Lake - if you see a sign indicating a toilet near the lake, you are on the right trail. The trail goes up about 600 feet in 1/2 mile to a ridge and then heads left for another 1/2 mile past a number of small lakes and ends at a larger (but still on the small size) lake - the area is more exposed along the ridge. The hike past Rachel Lake was 80% still snowed over for us, so I can't really describe the trail or the lakes (they were mostly snowed/iced over). It took us about 4 1/2 hours to get to the last Rampart Lake (going at an easy clip and including lunch at Rachel Lake (and including one "oops - this isn't the trail" sidetrip in the snow)). Trail Length + Elevation Gained: about 4 miles, 1900 feet to Rachel Lake and 1 more mile, 600 feet to Rampart Lakes (one-way, take the same way back) Area: Mountain and woods along a stream and mountain lakes. The bugs love the Alpine Lakes. Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, July 17, 2002 Recommendation: If you want to do 8 miles or less, go to Snow Lake (it's larger and prettier than Rachel), but if you want to do more, do Rachel and Rampart Lakes. Even if you don't want to go to the Rampart Lakes, go up a little ways along the trail for some good views down at Rachel Lake. This hike should be done during the week and/or start early - Rachel Lake (along with Snow Lake) is one of the most popular destinations [we only encountered 4 people going up and about a dozen more heading down - we started at 8:15 am on a weekday].
Obstruction Point - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to Port Angeles (north-central side of the peninsula). Keep an eye out for the sign that says Hurricane Ridge that way and follow the signs into the park. It is a long, windy road that goes into the mountains. Just as you reach Hurricane Ridge itself (right before the parking spaces), look for a narrow road that is a hard left (may want to loop around and head towards it from the other direction - easier turn and that way you might be able to see if any vehicles are heading up). Take the narrow dirt road for 8 miles all the way to Obstruction Point (it is slow going and traffic does go both ways - use pullouts and pull over as far as you can if you are on the inside of the road when traffic comes the other way) - can make it fine in a sedan or compact. The views of the Olympics along the road are grand. Chemical toilet at the parking area. $10. Trails: The trail heads to the right from the end of the parking area and starts well above the tree line. The views of the Olympics are grand to the west and there are a couple of spots where you get views to the northeast of Puget Sound and (on a clear day) Mt Baker. The trail starts with a short up, then down, and then a mild up along the ridge for about 2 miles. Where the trail takes a sharp turn left, first take a short sidetrip straight for some grand views and and good resting spot - if you are not going down, this is your turning around point. If you are going down, be prepared as the trail drops about 1000 feet in about mile (lots of switchbacks) - a pure down and hell going up, especially if the biting flies are out as they won't allow you to pause, much less rest, to catch your breath heading up [the only section we had problems with the flies were along the hard down - none along the ridge and only few near the lakes]. About 1/3 of the way down, the trail goes into the trees (with a couple of meadows along the way). Once the down finally ends, the trail calms down and is a mild up most of the rest of the way to Moose and Gladys Lakes. Grand Lake didn't look exciting and we didn't take the .2 mile sidetrip to reach the lake. Moose Lake is a pretty lake with a granite ridge backdrop to the east - there is a view of the lake from above to the left of the trail, but continue to lakeside before taking a rest. Ahead is a little shore and (when we were there) it had 2 nice logs extending into the lake that we used to rest on and feet soaked (and stopped again on the way back). It's .6 miles further and 300 feet more up to Gladys Lake - you have to take a short sidetrip from the trail to reach the lake. You can continue 1.3 miles further (6 miles from Obstruction Point) and 1000 feet up to Grand Pass (didn't do that as my aunt was with me and we knew she was going to struggle with the big climb out). Trail Length + Elevation: 3.7 miles, 1350 feet down Obstruction Point to Grand Lake junction (sidetrip to lake) .4 miles, 350 feet up junction to Moose Lake .6 miles, 300 feet up Moose Lake to Gladys Lake (short sidetrip to reach lake) 1.3 miles, 1000 feet up Gladys Lake to Grand Pass Area: Large mountains, above the tree line, below the tree line lakes. Pictures When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 Recommendation: Definitely take the trail a couple miles out along the ridge to just before the drop down. Only take the drop down to Moose and Gladys Lakes if you are prepared for a really hard hike out.
Olympic National Park: Boulder Lake trail Directions: Hwy 101 to Elwha road to the end of the road and small parking area on the right. $10 per car for a week pass or National Parks Pass Trails: The first boring 2.5 miles is an old paved road (collapsed over 3 creeks) to the hot springs area. The road does gain some elevation, but isn't any challenge (lots of people use it to get to the springs). Near the springs area, take a right up to the camping area and a left at the top of the hill to continue on the trail. It's about 3.5 miles to the lake. The pavement soon ends and you are finally on a real trail. The trail is a one person width dirt trail with some small rock and root areas. After a little bit, there is a fork in the trail. At the fork, take the Boulder Lake trail to the right and start your climb. The "camp" sign on the left does not mean you are almost there - you have about 1.5 hours to go. Boulder Lake is a pretty, smaller sized mountain lake. Eat lunch and soak your feet for a while. I had the trail to myself (there were people in the hot springs area) and the 3 people at the lake left shortly after I arrived. On the way back, stop at the hot springs and soak your feet in the hot water (if you can stand the sulfur smell) before taking on the boring road. Area: Green forest, mountains, and a mountain lake. Pretty purple flowers near the lake. Bring your Off. There are bitting flies [not quite as bad as the Alpine Lakes]. Note: there are no views of Mt. Olympus from the Boulder Lake area. To see the majesty of the Olympics, take a drive to Hurricane Ridge (and for better views (not for the faint hearted), take the 8 mile one-lane dirt road to the left of the visitors center ). Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, August 3, 2000 Recommendation: If only that boring road wasn't there and I could start my hike at the hot springs area. But then I probably wouldn't have had the rest of the trail and the lake to myself. I really liked Boulder Lake and would recommend it. It's a pretty trail up to the lake and you are rewarded with a precious mountain lake - a wonderful lunch spot.
Sol Duc Falls - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to the Sol Doc turnoff, to the left a short ways west of Lake Crescent (north-central part of Olympic NP). Take the Sol Duc road all the way to the parking lot at the end. Free. Trails: The wide, gravel trail is fairly mild, heading mostly a gradual up (with a few short downs) to a long bridge over the falls - the is a cabin/rain shelter right next to the bridge. You can go slightly past the bridge for a more peaceful spot next to the small river. Trail Length: .8 miles one-way Area: Mountains, forest, waterfall. Picture When I did the hike: Friday, August 10, 2007 Recommendation: Na. Not that pretty of falls.
Cape Flattery Directions: 112 to Neah Bay. Go through town and follow what seems to be the main road, turning left at the end and bear right with the road and then a left where there is a sign giving distances to certain things including Cape Flattery trail (I didn't see any street signs). The road takes a wide loop around the back of the cape (note the bridge over the river to the left as you go by - that's the way to Shi Shi beach). Past the bridge, it's 5 miles to the trailhead. There will be a fork to the left with a sign saying the cape is that way - take the left and park near the port-a-potties near the fork. The trailhead is to the left. Note: they were re-paving the road in the summer of 2007. Free Trails: Short (.5 mile) trail at a slight descent to pretty ocean cliff views. The wide trail is boardwalk a number of places. If it's not too foggy, you can see the island off the tip and the old lighthouse on the island. Area: Woodsy and ocean cliffs. Picture When I did the hike: Friday, August 4, 2000; Thursday, August 9, 2007 Recommendation: Do this with Shi Shi Beach (pretty, but short and not worth the drive by itself).
Olympic National Park: Shi Shi Beach Directions: 112 to Neah Bay. Go through town and follow what seems to be the main road, turning left at the end and bear right with the road and then a left where there is a sign giving distances to certain things including Cape Flattery trail (I didn't see any street signs). The road takes a wide loop around the back of the cape. Take a left where the sign says the fish hatchery that way, going over the bridge. You can either go straight or take a right just after the bridge (the right is a little longer, but gives you ocean views and rejoins the other road later). Stay on this road for a few miles. You'll pass a number of signs about paying to park (you may want to use those lots). Up ahead is a sharp left with a blue barrier straight ahead that has a warning about vandalism. The trail starts right behind that barrier. I risked the vandalism (it was a rental) and parked on the left just around the corner where a number of other cars were when I arrived (the car was undamaged when I returned, but all the other cars were gone). If you are going to camp on the beach, definitely pay to park. Free Trails: The trail is a flat old road for the 2 miles to get to the beach. Be forewarned that the road is extremely muddy a good portion of the way. There are a few side trails to get around some of the muddy spots, but you will have to go through some of them. At the end of the road (and info sign), the trail takes a steep descent down to the beach. On the beach, there are small rock formations to the right and then large rock formations (Point of the Arches) to the left. Hike the beach 2 miles to Point of the Arches. The sand is fairly compact, so it is not a tough beach hike. If the tide is out, you can roam around Point of the Arches. There were a number of bright orange and a few purple starfish in the area. Very interesting. I ate lunch there and then took my shoes off and walked the 2 miles of beach barefoot in the sand and occasionally in the surf. Ahhh. Area: Trees and mud to the beach and good sized (width) beach with interesting rock formations. I was surprised when two young deer came out of the forest and strolled to the surf near me. Picture When I did the hike: Friday, August 4, 2000 Recommendation: Highly recommended. The parking is a concern and the muddy trail is annoying, but the beach is very pretty and the rock formations are neat. There were a number of people camping on the beach near the forest.
Ozette - Olympic National Park Directions: From the south: Hwy 101 to Rt 113 heading north. At the junction, continue straight as Rt 113 becomes Rt 112. From the north: Hwy 101 to Rt 112 for a long ways. At the Rt 113 junction, take a right. A short ways past the town of Sekiu, take a left on to Hoko-Ozette Road (there is a sign saying Ozette that way) and take the road all the way to the end (take a right when you near the lake) and park in the area to the right of the ranger station. Flush toilets near ranger station. Free. Trails: You can combine 2 trails and a beach walk for a triangle hike (or do a there and back for a shorter hike). I did a counter-clockwise hike and headed down the trail for Sandpoint first. The 2 trails start to the right of the toilets. Sandpoint trail is about 80% boardwalk, with dirt or gravel the other sections - no danger of losing you way along the trail. The trail is in the trees and is pretty uneventful. Sandpoint is a small mound that you can make your way up for views up and down the coast. The coast itself is not pretty and smells as it is strewn with decaying seaweed. There is also lots of rocks and pebbles and very little sand - no barefoot walking along this shore. There were 2 young deer roaming the Sandpoint area when I was there and lots of sea lions resting on the rocks in the ocean (some funny looking where the rocks were not large enough for their entire body and the sea lions would have their tails high up in the air). From Sandpoint, head right and it's a long 3 miles from Sandpoint to Cape Alava, where the other trail comes out. You'll want to have low tide or else you'll have to take a tough up and down inland route at one area - even with the low tide, it's is slow going as you make your way over the rocks. Cape Alava is right where you expect it to be - directly in front of Ozette Island (big island with lots of trees a little ways off the coast). There is a Bulls-eye sign marking the trailhead, so it is not difficult to find. The Cape Alava trail has a little less boardwalk than the Sandpoint trail - probably about 60%, with dirt and gravel where there is no boardwalk. It also is unexciting as it makes it's way through the trees back to the ranger station. Trail Length: 3 miles to Sandpoint 3.3 miles to Cape Alava 3.1 miles rocky beach between Sandpoint and Cape Alava Area: Trees, ocean, rocky beach Pictures When I did the hike: Thursday, August 9, 2007 Recommendation: No. The beach area is ugly. Your time is much better spent in the Mora/La Push area.
Third Beach - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to Rt 110 (a couple miles north of the town of Forks, on the west-central side of Olympic National Park). At the Mora/La Push junction, take a left/straight for the La Push Road. After a few miles, look for a parking area on the left for the Third Beach area. No facilities. Free. Trails: The gravel trail starts wide and soon narrows as it heads at a gradual down. There is a sharper down when you reach the beach. It is a beautiful sand beach that is about a 1/2 mile long - perfect for walking barefoot in the surf. Trail Length: 1.4 miles trail .5 miles beach Area: Ocean, pretty beach When I did the hike: Friday, August 10, 2007 Recommendation: Definitely - really pretty beach.
Second Beach - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to Rt 110 (a couple miles north of the town of Forks, on the west-central side of Olympic National Park). At the Mora/La Push junction, take a left/straight for the La Push Road. Less than a mile past the parking area for the Third Beach area (on the left) is another parking area, this one Second Beach area. [Note that some of the maps list this trail as closed, but it was clearly open when I visited in 2007 (and others were using it).] No facilities. Free. Trails: The gravel and packed dirt trail starts with a 160 foot up before heading 200 feet down for less than a mile to the beach. When you approach the beach, there are a few wide-spaced steps down. It's a beautiful 1.5 mile long beach with a number of sea stacks and small islands just off the shore. Trail Length: .8 miles trail 1.5 miles beach Area: Ocean, pretty beach Picture When I did the hike: Friday, August 10, 2007 Recommendation: I absolutely loved this perfect beach.
Rialto Beach - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to Rt 110 (a couple miles north of the town of Forks, on the west-central side of Olympic National Park). At the Mora/La Push junction, take a right for the Mora Road. Take the road all the way to the end and parking in the parking lot. [There is a river between the Mora and La Push areas.] Toilets at the parking area (and ranger station that is along Mora Road). Free. Trails: It's beach walk from the parking area to Hole-in-the-Wall, a sea arch that you can walk through when the tide is low. Unlike Second and Third beach (almost pure sand), Rialto Beach is a mixture of rocks and sand - you can barefoot walk it, but you'll have to go slow and careful over the areas with lots of small rocks. Trail: 1.5 mile beach walk Area: Ocean, beach, sea arch Picture When I did the hike: Friday, August 10, 2007 Recommendation: If you have time for both the La Push beaches and this one, then visit both. If not, then skip Rialto Beach.
Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to Upper Ho Road (west-central side of Olympic National Park) to the end. Flush toilets next to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. Free. Trails: The mini-trail is a short paved loop that all 3 trails for the area kick off from. The Hall of Mosses Trail starts from the top left of the mini-loop and is a gravel trail (with small ups and downs) through the forest, with interpretive signs along the way. It is a temperate rain forest so the dominate feature is the moss that is everywhere, including covering trees. There are interprative signs along the trail, including one explaining nurse logs - how the new trees grow on top of dead trees and the dead trees eventually rot away leaving exposed roots with a hollow in the middle. The Spurce Nature Trail starts at the top right of the mini-loop and is also gravel. It is a little longer of a trail and not as pretty as the Hall of Mosses Trail. A section of it does go along the Hoh River. A short ways on to the Spruce Nature Trail, the Hoh River Trail kicks off - it goes 18 miles all the way to Blue Glacier, part of Mount Olympus' glacial peak (Mount Olympus is the tallest peak in the Olympics) [I didn't do any of this trail]. Trail Length: .8 mile loop Hall of Mosses Trail 1.2 mile loop Spruce Nature Trail 18 miles one-way Hoh River Trail Area: Trees covered in moss, river Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 8, 2007 Recommendation: Definitely do the Hall of Mosses Trail. The Spruce Nature Trail isn't as interesting, but since you came all this way, go ahead and do it too.
Rudy Beach - Olympic National Park Directions: Hwy 101 to the southwest end of Olympic National Park, just north of the town of Queets. The beaches are right off of Hwy 101. Free. Trails: A short walk from the parking area down to a pretty beach with some interesting small sea stacks right off the shore. Trail Length: Short. Area: Ocean, beaches Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 8, 2007 Recommendation: There are a number of pretty beaches in the Kalaloch area of Olympic NP. I liked Rudy and Beach 4 the best.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Directions: Hwy 101 to the town of Ilwaco. Go straight/west at the light where Hwy 101 takes a hard right from heading west to heading north. Either continue straight on the road or take a left just past the light, past the shops (no signal) on to the road - the left will get you there shorter, the straight is a little longer, but you can also take a sideroad to visit the North Head Lighthouse (just a short walk from the parking lot) - the two roads connect to form a loop. At the junction for the loop, continue straight/south to the end of the road and the parking area for the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Free. Trails: The trail for the lighthouse starts at the south end of the parking lot towards the left. It's a mild trail that goes above the coast guard station (active, no access to it), above a pretty cove with a small beach (access to the cove was closed when I was there), and then up a dirt road to the lighthouse. Trail Length: .75 miles (one-way) to lighthouse Area: When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 8, 2007 Recommendation: Worth a short visit if you are in the area.
Snoqualmie Falls Park and Trails Directions: From Seattle, take I-90 East about 25 miles to the Snoqualmie Falls exit (exit 27). Follow the signs to Snoqualmie and to Snoqualmie Falls. Free. Trails: A short trail from the parking lot down to the river and falls. The trail starts to the right of the parking lot. After taking a view of the waterfall from above, head down the trail to the river and then along the river for a short pace to a viewing station for the falls (it's a 270 foot waterfall). Despite the sign telling people not too, many climb over the rail and over the rocks to get a closer look at the fall. The real fun, of course, is the big climb back up to your car. The trail is about 1 mile round trip. Area: Trees and waterfall. Lots of people. Picture When I did the hike: Summer 1997 Recommendation: Short, but fun. Illegal, but walking on the rocks towards the fall is fun. And the waterfall is impressive.
Wallace State Park Directions: Off of Hwy 2 near Gold Bar Free. Trails: A pretty trail, about 2 person width that goes up along a stream with a number of small waterfalls along the way. The trail goes for about 2.5 miles one-way (I think you can go further, though). You are climbing most of the time, but (except for a couple of spots) it's not very steep. Area: Lots of trees. Picture When I did the hike: Summer 1997 Recommendation: It's a very pretty trail and a nice little hike. I'd go there again.
Skyline Divide Trail near Mt. Baker Directions: I-5 to Route 20 to park head quarters. Stop there and pay the Trail Park Pass fee and get directions to the Skyline trail. The road up to the trail (Rd. 37) is a steep, one-lane, gravel road full of a lot of switchbacks - take it slow and steady (but you don't need 4-wheel drive - we did it in a rental). The trail is part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. $3 day pass. Trails: There are number of trails in the Mt. Baker area. The Skyline Divide Trail is a 3.5 mile hike (one-way) up to and along the ridge of a mountain near Mt. Baker - if it's not too cloudy, you get a good view of Mt. Baker as well as other mountains in the range. The hike up to the ridge is a climb through the forest. The ridge is a mostly treeless meadow and meanders for a ways before disappearing (we were in a meadow with a view of Mt. Baker and the trail just seemed to end after crossing over a little stream). Note: make sure you bring your Off for the ridge area. Area: The trail is in the Northern Cascades mountain range. Lots of trees and mountains. Picture When I did the hike: Summer 1997 Recommendation: Beautiful. Challenging. Note: Northern Washington was hit heavy with flooding during the summer of 2004 and a number of trails and access roads to trails were washed out in the area, unfortunately including the Skyline Divide trail. I don't know when or if access and the trail will be repaired. You will want to check with the National Forest Service to make sure this (or other hikes in the area) hike is available.
Chain Lakes Loop - Mt Baker Directions: I-5 North to Bellingham, west on 542 all the way to the Mt Baker area and Artist Point parking area (end of the road). No potable water in the area, but chemical toilets available. The trail is part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Note: The Mt Baker area receives heavy snow fall each year and the road (542) remains closed to the trail area until the snow melts. $3 day pass or $30 annual pass (annual pass can be purchased online at http://www.wta.org/wta/ Trails: The Chain Lakes Loop starts at the right end of the parking lot and is the lower trail (the Tabletop Mountain trail heads up). The one-person width dirt and rocky trail is fairly level for the first mile and on a clear or not too cloudy day there are great views of Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan. Note: most of the hike is in the open (some tree cover around the Chain Lakes, but open almost every where else). After about a mile, the trail reaches the Ptarmigan Ridge junction and you take a right at the fork (and say goodbye to Mt Shuksan for a while). The trail heads down for a ways before reaching the first of the Chain Lakes, Mazama Lake - it's not much larger than a pond, though. The good news is that it is the least impressive of the 3 Chain Lakes. The trail rounds the lake and then heads right a short distances and small up to Iceberg Lake, the prettiest of the 3. There were only 2 small snow patches along the far shore when we went (and they were having a very hot summer), but Iceberg Lake often does have small icebergs in the lake even well into the summer. It is a worthy lake to sit and relax and enjoy yourself at. The trail goes around one side of Iceberg Lake and then in between Iceberg and Hayes Lakes. This is also where the trail starts its big climb. It's about 600' in about a mile with several switchbacks up to the ridge, Herman Saddle. Along the way, there maybe some wonderful views of Iceberg Lake with Mt Baker in the distance. Catch your breath at the top then say goodbye to Mt Baker (and hello again to Mt Shuksan) and head down to the Bagley Lakes with nice views of the lakes. There are a couple of switchbacks along the way and the trail goes through some rock fall areas (loose rocks). At the Bagley Lakes (which is a series of small lakes right next to each other), take a rest - there may be a number of people swimming in the lake. If you aren't hiking solo, pick one sucker to retrieve the car and the rest of you can relax another half hour at the lake. Head up to the building above Bagley Lakes (the Heather Meadows Visitor Center) and walk through the parking lot to near the road - the Wild Goose Trail starts straight ahead and to the right. It's pure exercise as it some what goes along the road and up steep - 1 mile and 900' up, including some steep wooden step areas. There are views of the Bagley Lakes, but just a different angle from what you got coming down from Herman Saddle. Where the trail crosses the road, it does continue slightly to left, below the ridge with the rock mound on it (or, if you can't figure out where it continues (it's not obvious), you can just walk the road back the short rest of the way). Trail Length + Elevation: 7.5 miles loop, 1500 feet (1 mile, +900 feet from Heather Meadows to starting parking lot) Can also hike from Artist Point to Chain Lakes and back (turning around before the climb up) for about a 6 mile hike and about 300 feet gained hike [my guestimates]. Area: Woods and mountains and small lakes. Maybe snow. Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, August 14, 2004 Recommendation: It's a pretty area and a pretty hike with lots of views of small mountain lakes. It's also a heavily used area.
Lake Ann Trail - Mt Baker Directions: I-5 North to Bellingham, west on 542 all the way to the Mt Baker area and Lake Ann parking area (between Heather Meadows and Artist Point). No potable water in the area, but chemical toilets at Heather Meadows and Artist Point. The trail is part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Note: The Mt Baker area receives heavy snow fall each year and the road (542) remains closed to the trail area until the snow melts. $3 day pass or $30 annual pass (annual pass can be purchased online at http://www.wta.org/wta/ Trails: The Lake Ann trail is a 4.1 miles one-way trail that starts with a drop and then is a big climb to the lake. The one-person width packed dirt trail starts in the forest with a drop with a couple of switchbacks early (yes, you will hate it on the way back). After crossing the creek (with stepping stones for all creek crossings), the trail levels out some and is more of a gentle down most of the rest of the down. The trail is more in an open area along the creek. After crossing back to the other side of the creek, the trail returns to the forest until reaching the Swift Creek drainage (which is not the creek you have previously crossed - the ridge you will be heading over is straight ahead and slightly to the left). The grade down increases some as you near the creek (but not steep). It is about 2.5 miles from the trail head to Swift Creek. Take a rest at the creek because the climb is about to being. The climb starts in a forest area with a couple of switchbacks before being open area the rest of the way, with 2 small tree clumps along the way. The trail goes through a few rock slide areas (loose rocks). And it gets steeper with more switchbacks the closer you get to the top. On a clear or not too cloudy day, there are wonderful views of Mt Baker on the way up. After going up 900' you finally get a view of the lake. Our reaction after reaching the ridge was a disappointed, "That's it?" There was no snow around the lake when we went, so maybe it is more impressive with snow. But we went down to the lake anyway, 200' down and about 1/4 a mile. As the trail rounded the mountain beside us, we were presented with awesome views of Mt Shuksan and her glaciers and waterfalls and granite areas. That is the reward of this hike. A few people were enjoying swimming in the lake. With a slow pace (my dad was with me) and not too long of a stop at the lake, it took us about 4:45 to complete the hike. Trail Length + Elevation: 4.1 miles one-way (8.2 round-trip), 800 feet drop then 900 feet climb then 200 feet drop to the lake and reverse on the way back Area: Woods and mountains and waterfalls and glaciers. Maybe snow. Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 16, 2004 Recommendation: Stunning views of Mt. Shuksan from the lake area. Heavy used trail, though.
Rainy Lake Trail Directions: I-5 to Hwy 20 east for a _long_ ways (51 miles past Marblemount) to near Rainy Pass - take a right into the parking lot where the sign says Rainy Lake. Bathroom with flush toilets and water at the parking lot. Free. Trails: The 1-mile, 2-person width paved trail starts at the end of the parking lot near the road and goes past 2 pretty water falls to a wider platform area with 2 benches near the lake. There are also a number of benches along the way. It's a pretty, good-sized mountain lake with great views across the way of the mountains, waterfalls, and Lyall Glacier. We had lunch at the lake for a nice family outing. Trails Length: 1 mile one-way, fairly flat Area: Woods to a mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, July 17, 2002; Monday, August 13, 2007 Recommendation: Great place to take someone older, really young, and/or in need of a wheelchair.
Maple Pass Loop - near Cascades National Park Directions: I5 to Hwy 20 (Mt Vernon). After about 95 (mountain driving) miles, the Rainy Pass area is on the right. Flush toilets in parking area Free. Trails: The packed dirt trail for the Maple Pass Loop and Lake Ann starts at the top of the parking lot - the up and left from the information sign (the trail for Rainy Lake is due left from the sign). It is a steady climb to start before calming down a bit as the trail rounds a bend through an old slide area. The trail heads back into the trees and is again more of an up. After 1.5 miles is the junction for Lake Ann. Take a left for a very mild .5 mile sidetrip to the lake. It is a pretty lake in a bowl, but nothing too exciting as it is not surrounded by granite peaks - I wasn't able to spend much time there as the biting flies were out like crazy. Back at the junction, the trail continues up and you get some very pretty views down on Lake Ann and a good chunk of the trail is in the open (few to no trees) all the way until the other side of Maple Pass (some trees in the Heather Pass area). When you reach Heather Pass, take a sidetrip to the right for a short bit to where you have a view of the next valley, Black Peak, the stunning Lewis Lake, and its waterfall - find a nice resting spot and enjoy the view. This hike is worth doing for the view of Black Peak and Lewis Lake alone. There is no trail to Lewis Lake, but if you really want to go there, you can make your way over the long (over a mile) rock field to the lake (I didn't go as hiking over rock fields is not my type of fun, especially one as long as this one, but you can see dirt paths around the lake from others who had made it out to the lake). Back on the trail, it continues heading up and there is a false pass ahead - as you approach, you think it is the pass, but it is not. From the false pass, you get a view into the west valley and more peaks of the Cascades. From here, it is a huff-and-puff up to the actually Maple Pass. The pass itself isn't that exciting. On the way switchbacking down on the other side of the pass, you do get some pretty views of the upper valley of the Rainy Lake area (peaks, glacier, small upper lake), but surprisingly only very few views of Rainy Lake itself (and they aren't very good views). Once the trail enters the trees, it is pure down with almost no views. The trail comes out onto the Rainy Lake trail and you can either hook a left for about .4 miles back to the parking lot or hook a right for about .6 miles to Rainy Lake (if you haven't been to Rainy Lake, take a right). The Rainy Lake trail is a very mild paved trail (wheelchair accessible). Trail Length + Elevation: 6.4 miles, 1965 feet loop or 2 miles, 640 feet one-way to Lake Ann Area: Mountains, trees, mountain lakes Pictures When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 Recommendation: A pretty loop hike in the mountains with several views of mountain lakes (easy access to only one lake for the loop hike). Warning: if the biting flies are out, they can drive you nuts (weren't out at Blue Lake two days prior, but were out like crazy this day).
Blue Lake - near Cascades National Park Directions: I5 to Hwy 20 (Mt Vernon). After about 95 (mountain driving) miles, the Rainy Pass area is on the right. About 2 miles pass this area (around the bend and a mile further) is the parking area on the right for Blue Lake. Chemical toilets. (Washington Pass, with flush toilets, is about a mile further, on the left). Free. Trails: Although this trail gains 1100 feet in a little over 2 miles, it is surprisingly not a tail-kicker as it is a steady up the whole way with no huff-and-puff areas. There are some pretty views on the way up of the crags to the left. Blue Lake is a beautiful mountain lake in a granite bowl with plenty of lakeside spots to rest, feet-soak, have lunch, and enjoy the views. The lake is so nice that my aunt was completely unimpressed with Rainy Lake, which we visited after this hike. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.2 miles, 1100 feet one-way Area: Mountains, trees, pretty mountain lake Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 13, 2007 Recommendation: A bit out of the way, but a very pretty hike and not too hard to reach. You can combine this hike and Maple Loop Pass for a full day's outing - or do Blue Lake and Rainy Lake if you need not as tough of a day's outing.
Ice Caves Directions: I-5 to US 2 (exit 194 Stevens Pass) to Hwy 9 to US 92 to Granite Falls to the Mountain Loop Highway going North. The Big Four Picnic area will be to the right aways ahead. Free. Trails: A boardwalk over the marshes to start and then an easy, wide (2 person) trail with some elevation increase for a mile to the meadow in front of the caves. And then wandering around in the cave area. Area: Marsh, then a pretty forestry small mountain to the base of Big Four Mountain. At the base is a snow field (even in the summer) where the water falls and water melting have formed caves in the snow. It's part of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Picture When I did the hike: Several times. Most recently: Friday July 21, 2006 Recommendation: A tradition in my family. The caves are cool looking (be careful, though, as people have been killed entering the caves) and the waterfalls are pretty. It's an easy hike and popular.
Ebby's Landing Directions: To Everett port and take the ferry (costs) to Whidbey Island (or to Hwy 20 south if coming from the north). Take Hwy 525 and drive for a while, going past Coupville (and the road turns into Hwy 20 some where along the way). Take a left (west) on the road W 110 S. You can either go to the end of the road and park in the lot near the cemetery (this will put you above the bluff) or hook a left on a short road and then a right to the curve and park next to the beach. Free. Trails: Didn't have much information when we went here - looks like there is more to do in the park than what we did. Anywho, we started with lunch at the beach and then took the trail that headed up the bluff and along the bluff for a bit (one-person width) with nice views of the water and across the straight at the Olympic Mountains in the distance. After a mile or so, it's a steep down to the beach and then a walk along the shore back to the start. About a 3 mile loop. Area: Sand, bluffs, pretty distance views. Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, July 21, 2006 Recommendation: It was a nice little hike. I wouldn't go out here purely for this hike, but there are plenty of nice places to visit on Whidbey Island.