Outdoor and Travel Adventures
Gear Under Review:
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.
You can count on one hand the number of summits over 5,000 feet that can be driven up in Western Washington. One such high point is Burley Mountain, situated between Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams. On the summit is a Forest Service lookout cabin that is usually open in summer, with a woodstove, a couple of single beds, a sink without water, and a couple of chairs to sit on. Small signs above the windows tell you what mountains you are viewing. Outside the lookout is a picnic table and a cinder-block vault toilet. A night inside is fun for kids and adults. In winter, the lookout is rented to skiers and snowshoers.
The Mount Townsend trail can be a highway of hikers, most of whom are new to hiking. For those with a bit more experience, the trail to Silver Lake soon becomes appealing. It requires nearly hiking up Townsend, but then dropping 600 feet to reach. If Silver Lake seems tame, consider the next level of adventure off the Townsend Trail. A trip up Welch Peaks and Hawk Peak is the climax of the region and offers the best way to explore this corner of the Olympic Mountains. It is done as a loop trip from the Townsend Saddle.
4 More State Highpoints
Chicago can be a great city to visit for a few days. No other place in the United States has this kind of beach waterfront adjacent to a metropolis. Residents and visitors are endulged with all the city amenities, yet can walk a few blocks to the beach. Chicago has a bad reputation but the city core and waterfront was the cleanest and safest of any city I have ever visited. Numerous large parks are located along the shoreline including bike and running trails that go for miles in each direction.
After visiting Chicago, a 1,500 mile road trip was in order to visit the Great Lakes state highpoints.
This section of the Interurban trail runs along a hidden wooded forest on the line between the city of Milton and the southern line of Federal Way. Much of the route is along the East Fork of Hylebos Creek, a glimpse of how this area was once densely forested. This section ends (for now) at the edge of Fife at 70th Avenue E (at the I-5 Fife Curve). Future connections will connect it to the Foothills Trail in Puyallup. But the future DOT Fife curve interchange that will connect Hwy 167 to I-5 will have to be built first.
Spend any time hiking around the Mountain Loop Highway and you know that White Chuck Mountain has a dominating appearance and location. It has nearly 3800 feet of prominence and ranks as the 25th most prominent peak in Washington State. The solitary mountain is also surprisingly easy, yet potentially dangerous. The climb can be easly done in a half day, in just four or five hours or less. But caution, do not climb when wet do to the slab section.
The possibilities for where to go on a honeymoon are endless. But I am asked by many who need to keep the cost low and stay close to home, where to go. In an attempt to help them out and have a good reference to send them to, these are my top 20 suggestions.
One of Washington's easiest to reach lookout buildings is High Rock Lookout, located just south of Mount Rainier National Park. The short 1.6 mile hike attracts the novice and experienced hikers because the views are superb and there is a lookout. High Rock is also a prominence peak at #45 in Washington with over 3,000 feet of it. Notice at the trailhead parking you can look in the distance to see the destination, such a rare thing in Washington.
Winchester Mountain is one of the best hikes in the state with spectacular views from start to finish. Even before the hike starts, the trailhead and alpine primitive car camping location at Twin Lakes should be explored. Twin Lakes at an elevation of 5,200 feet are set in a alpine cirque bowl beneath Winchester and Bear Mountains, surrounded by meadows and subalpine trees. Mount Baker mirrored in the lake as the trail starts to ascend meadows to a historic lookout on the summit, with up close views of Shuksan, Tomyhoi, Larrabee, and American Border Peak.
Surprise and Glacier are two lakes at the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness that make for a popular destination for overnight trips. The first lake is Surprise, ringed by green trees, shallow waters, and granite boulders. Glacier Lake is a bit further but is much larger, deeper and has the cliffs hanging above in all directions.
Popular with beginners and fishermen, the Greenwater Lakes Trail is a relatively easy valley trail through some spectacular old-growth forest, with lakes as destinations. The first lakes are the Greenwater Lakes, just 2 easy miles up the trail, surrounded by many campsites. But for some extra effort, the hike continues a bit further to a trail split. Left to Echo Lake, right to Lost Lake. This report covers Lost Lake, a tree-ringed body of water trapped like a bathtub, its outlet is underground!
These three mountains are three of the four peaks that encircle Glacier and Surprise Lake. All three are possible during one trip to the area. All three peaks offer views, each with similar perspectives but each peeks at different lakes far below.