Outdoor and Travel Adventures
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Bend hosts the big Oregon Winterfest, the largest festival in Bend which celebrates the winter season. Located in the Old Mill District, if there isn't enough snow, they will bring it in by dump truck! People come from around the state to listen to live music, eat, watch winter sports, and do some pretty wacky things. Activities include a Big Air Show and a Rail Jam, where ski and snowboards drop down large ramps doing tricks for the onlookers. Gear companies standby throwing swag into the crowds. Metal Mulisha usually shows up doing motorcycle jumps that are just incredibly dangerous. For the adventurous, an early morning Polar Plunge in the river is available or try the Snow Warrior Dash.
Located in the Ochoco Mountains in the Ochoco National Forest is Lookout Mountain. The summit of Lookout Mountain happens to be the Crook County highpoint with a whopping three trail routes to the top. Lookout Mountain is also the second highest point in the Ochoco Mountains and the 40th most prominent peak in Oregon with over 2,400 feet of prominence . The summit is clear of obstructions making for distant views in all directions. You an see west to the Cascades, east to the Strawberry Mountains and everything between. Along the way, you can find many mine sites with interesting buildings, as well as a surprising amount of old growth ponderosa pine and true fir trees.
What to call this mountain with three names! Standing tall on the east side of Lake Whatcom, this mountain is home to one of the largest parks in Washington. Lake Whatcom Park is managed by Whatcom County Parks & Recreation. Its massive size is thanks to a 2014 reconveyance of land from the DNR back to the county. Much of the park is developed at the trailhead but the upper mountain will take years for a signed trail system to be mapped and developed. In time, the mountain has potential for becoming similar to the Chuckanut trails on the other side of I-5. Whacme-Stewart-Haner Mountain has an extensive network of biking and hiking trails.
The Castle is located between the Dungeness River and Copper Creek drainages, about 2 miles north of popular Marmot Pass. Trails surround the peak but few venture up, if they do, its in summer from the Tubal Cain Mine area. With 728 feet of prominence, The Castle has excellent views of the Buckhorn grouping of peaks and over to the Gray Wolf Peaks. The views of the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island area is excellent as well.
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The Hood Canal has never been a place for great hiking but at the very end of the canal, you find the Theler Wetlands. This destination has 139 acres of protected salt marsh and estuary wetlands at the mouth of the Union River. Volunteers and the staff of the Mary E. Theler Community Center maintain over two miles of interpretive walking trails in one of the best places for seeing wildlife. The Theler Wetlands is recognized as one of the premier bird-watching sites in Washington.
Fort Columbia State Park is one of the most intact coastal defense forts on the West Coast, the park features a self-guided walking tour around historic gun batteries and other fort structures with scenic views of the Columbia River estuary. As part of Lewis & Clark National Park and located on the Chinook Point National Historic Landmark, all the names here get kind of confusing. Visitors are free to roam around, reading the interpretive signs, going in and around the buildings and batteries.
Cle Elum Ridge is a long and wide landform on the north side of I-90 at Cle Elum, with a highest point of only 3,780 feet. It's prominence is only 500 feet as the ridge continues north connecting to Hex Mountain, the next highest prominent peak. But all other directions, the ridge drops to the valley floor. Views are hard to find, only a few along the way. Cle Elum Ridge is bound to be constantly changing. On the south side, there are new communities being built out of Roslyn and Cle Elum. Most of the north side recently became part of the Teanaway Community Forest.
Before driving all the way to Leadbetter Point State Park, understand the park is a natural area open for day-use and has limited facilities. Just one road goes in and ends at a parking lot. Leadbetter State Park has quick and easy access to Willapa Bay, which is an unusual place to visit, best if you are a bird or wildlife viewer. You can find 100 species of birds here. The scenery is quite nice on the Bay side but access to the Ocean side is difficult. Some books even say there is no ocean access at all. But there is two trails to get to the beach, the catch is that they are flooded much of the year.
One of the premier State Parks in Washington, almost to National Park status, Cape Disappointment offers miles of ocean beaches, two historic lighthouses, tons of hiking trails, camping and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Throughout the park are excellent views of the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. You'll also find old-growth forests, lakes, freshwater and saltwater marshes, streams and tideland meadows.
The southern portion of the Interurban Trail is 14.7 miles long going through the towns of Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Algona, and Pacific. The pictures and report on this page are for the southern portion except Tukwila and part of Kent. In Kent and Tukwila, a nice loop trip combines both the Interurban Trail with the Green River Trail and I have a separate trip report for that loop. The Southern Interurban is nearly a straight shot, adjacent to railroad tracks and powerlines, following the historic Interurban Rail Line.
Located at the west end of Icicle Ridge, and the south end of the Chiwaukum Range, Frigid Mountain is an unofficial name for a high peak listed as #24 on the Backcourt List. It is climbed most often in spring, by utilizing the Chatter Creek Trail, followed by a long snow-filled chute. If snow conditions
Lunds Gulch is located in Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle but the gulch feels more like a secluded part of Puget Sound far out on the Peninsula. The adventure here is getting one mile to the beach. The trail starts high in the forest, with no sign of what is to come. The trail quickly drops 400 feet into the forest. But the trail is well maintained and wide, which is good since on weekends, the trail can be crowded. At the bottom is a loop. To the left is the ranger house and grassy park with picnic tables and shelters. To the right takes you to some railroad tracks that block all views but pass through a small tunnel and surprise, you are on the beach.
The Joint Trail starts and ends in the backcountry. If you are 4-wheel driving, the west end is accessed by trailhead. The east end starts in Elephant Canyon and offers the most incredible entrance into Chesler Park. After absorbing the dramatic meadows and 360 degree panoramic needles all around, the Joint Trail drops out of the world into a narrow crack that is equally amazing as the stunning scenery in Chesler Park. Once through the narrow fractures, many will backtrack preferring to go back through and back up into Chesler Park.
Every hike needs a destination. By hiking to Druid Arch, you will experience much of the Needles and experience Elephant Canyon, one of the best canyon walks in the Needles District. Druid Arch is over 100 feet tall and resembles the rocks of Stonehenge. Itís an impressive sight and is a very satisfying destination after the long hike getting there.
This hike takes in 4 lakes that are relatively easy to reach, each a bit harder then the first, and all of them have several camping sites. They are located in the Morningstar Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA), managed by the DNR. The first lake is Beaver Plant Lake, small but surrounding wet meadow areas make it much larger looking. Next is Upper Ashland Lake, followed by a decent into Lower Ashland Lake. Both offer relaxing views and plenty of camping. Kids will love all the boardwalks getting to these lakes. Last is a 1.7 mile decent into Twin Falls Lake.
Garibaldi is the most northern volcano on most climbers hit list that live in the Pacific Northwest. Its about a 2 hour drive north in Canada from the Washington State Border crossing. Mount Garibaldi is in the Coast Range of British Columbia, towering over the town of Squamish, which is halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. The mountain is one of the lowest Pacific Coast stratovolcanoes, yet still stands alone giving a big impression. Because the elevation isn't too high, the 360 degree panorama of rugged mountains surrounding it are a treat to view while climbing.
Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area is an easy nature walk located on Puget Sound, north of Olympia. The site is a wildlife sanctuary designed to protect habitat ranging from marine shoreline and wetlands to mature second growth forest. Some of the habitat is for shorebirds and songbirds, harbor seals, river otters, bald eagles, a large maternity colony of bats, and one of the most significant heron rookeries in the state. There are three hiking trails but check ahead, they sometimes close to protect nesting herons and eagles. The Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed to the public July 2014 through December for construction of environmental education and low impact recreation features.
For a quick trip to a destination that couldn't possibly be in Western Washington, Mima Mounds is truly a wonder to behold. Wonder what Puget Prairie Grassland looks like? Does the word savannah even belong in our vocabulary here? Mima Mounds NAP preserves this most unique habitat, with the bonus of the mounds, a geological feature that nobody has positivity explained. The preserve was established in 1976 and has been maintained to preserve the small Garry oak trees, natural flowers and grasses that only repeated fires to the landscape could preserve.
As one of the highest mountains on the far east side of the Cascades, save this one when the west side is getting hammered with rain. Wedge Mountain has a commanding view sitting between the Enchantment Lakes area and the vast expanse out over eastern Washington. Over the years, two main routes have developed. The one described below has an excellent trail with a trailhead quite high on the mountain. Unfortunately, getting there the road is rather rough and narrow so bring a trusty vehicle.
This high point on Nason Ridge with 1,150 feet of prominence has a lookout building called Alpine Lookout. Over time, the mountain is discussed more in terms of the name of the lookout than Nason Ridge. Probably because Nason Ridge continues west with higher points like Mount Mastiff, Mount Howard and Rock Mountain. To add more names, the trail is called the Round Mountain Trail, named after a small summit the trail traverses while in route to the lookout site. This lookout site dates back to 1920 when it was uses for spotting fire, and the first building placed in 1936. The current structure was built in 1976, still staffed during summer months and is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.
As drivers cross Washington Pass on the North Cascades Highway, Silver Star Mountain lies to the east with ridges extending north and south full of towering rock spires. Amazingly, this rugged peak can be climbed without too much technical knowhow. Silver Star Mountain is #24 of Washington's highest peaks. There are two summits, with the highest summit being the east peak, just slightly higher than the west peak. This route utilizes the Silver Star Glacier, the largest in the Cascades at such a eastern longitude.