Hikes Around Western Washington

Where do I go next to hike? A question most natives to PNW ask themselves when summer rolls around. Finding great hiking trails with or without a lot of people are abundant around Western Washington. Here are my favorite hikes to do.

Mt. Baker National Wilderness

I believe Mt. Baker national forest is a best kept secret when it come to tourist. To think you are very close to Canada you can throw a stone over the border. Yet very few people I know want to explore this hidden gem in plain sight.

Twin Lakes:

Winchester Peak Lookout:

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Olympic National Park

By far Olympic National Forest has been one place that keeps me coming back for more. While there is Alps in the Cascades, it really is the Olympics that remind me of the Sound of Music.

Hurricane Hill:

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Obstruction Point:

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Hurricane Ridge:

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Mt. Rainer National Park

The only part of the Rainer National Park I have hiked is the Sunrise side of the park. Some of the best views of the mountain are on this side and there are many trails to choose from to explore.

Fremont Lookout:

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Shadow Lake:

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First Burroughs Mountain Trail:

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Mt. St. Helens

The story goes this beautiful mountain and her surroundings were the pride of Washington until the faithful day in 1980 when she erupted. Thirty five years later the surroundings are starting to come back in a beautiful array of color.

Lakes Trail:

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Hummocks Trail:

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Ape Caves:

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Iron Creek Falls Trail:

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Lava Canyon Trail:

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Heather Lake

This is a popular lake to hike all year around. In the summer you still can see the snow sheets on the slops. Be warned, the lake is freezing, glacier water freezing!

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Rattle Snake Ledge

This is the popular hike to take for those living in the Seattle area. The trail can become crowed on weekends during the warmer months, but if you get there early in the morning, you will not have as many people on the trail.

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Goose Rock

Goose Rock is a trail very few people know about. This trail head is located in the Deception Pass Bridge parking lot. Most people turn left towards the beach, but if you stay right, the trail climbs to a high spot to see out over the Channel and out to the Salish Sea towards San Juan Islands.

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Wallace Falls

I have hiked this trail all seasons. This hike at Wallace Falls State Park in Gold Bar has become a popular trail after becoming tired of Rattle Snake Ledge.

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Happy hiking this summer!!

Hanging With Plants, Climbing The Water Tower & The Black Sun At Volunteer Park

There is something very peaceful about a conservatory full of plants. A place where all the cares can be left outside the glass structure and take a breather for an hour. An old Victorian Conservatory, a Victorian water tower and seeing Seattle from the black side of the sun. All of this done before noon on a quiet overcast day in Volunteer Park.

Volunteer Conservatory:

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Walking among the plants in a Victorian-era greenhouse structure is a step into a peaceful warm environment full of plants from all over. From one area to the other of the building was packed with flowers, trees, cactus, and other exotic plants blooming with color. I went right around the time the conservatory was opening for the day and I believe this is the best time of day to go when it is not crowded with people.

 

The Water Tower:


Walked all the way up to the top of this old Victorian water tower to great views of Seattle, Bellevue, and Lake Washington. From here through the tree top/branches there are glimpses of the old grand houses of Capital Hill. The very same houses that are well out of reach for anyone in this city unless you have a couple of million dollars extra sitting around. From the old style wrought iron bar windows you can see the landscape of the park below, and with the old pictures of the tower, some of the trees below have been growing since 1909!

 

Black Sun Of Seattle:

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If you stand just right on the top of the stairs with the SAM behind you, you can get the Space Needle framed in the middle of the sculpture. I do not remember why it is called the Black Sun, but it has been part of the park since 1987.

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I did not visit the Lake View Cemetery where famous Seattle people are buried (which is next door to the park) because there have been a people destroying grave sites in the Seattle area. So I could not see the final resting places of Bruce Lee. Maybe some other time.

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Hiking Rattlesnake Ledge

2017:

I have already done this hike before, but this time it seemed there was something different this time around. It might have been due to hiking in a small group of students at Northwest U, or I just knew the outcome of this hike. Either way, it was a better view this time. Last time I went it was in the middle of summer (the hottest on record), the lake was almost non-existent, and there were people doing stupid stuff up on the ledge. This time, there was none of this!

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The hike started out around 10am in the morning, and ended around 1:30pm. It took us two hours total to go up and down the trail; and hanging out on the ledge taking Instagram worthy pictures (most of the others are out-of-state people who never been, and so worth being a part of this for them).

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Then a few minutes hanging by the lake to cool off before heading back home.

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2015:

What to do when you don’t have a reason to be at Sea Fair? Beat the Interstate 90 bridge closure and go hike Rattlesnake Ledge trail with a friend. Early on Saturday morning a friend and I went on an adventure up Rattlesnake Ledge on a hot summer day (90 degrees!) to experience the view everyone talks about.

Boy was we in for a great view, just look at this view!

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The Ledge View

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Mt. Si View

We started our adventure with a forty-five-minute drive from Seattle towards the outskirts of North Bend. After a few minutes going around in circles in the small town of Tanner looking for the road leading up to the trail with a GPS that was having dumb movement, we finally got to the parking lot of the trailhead around 9am.

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Dry Lake Bed

Since the whole state is in a state of drought, there was a section of the lake bed that had dried up and you could trek across the lake bed to the head of the trail without going all around the lake. Starting up the trail at 9am is a good time because there was not a lot of people going up or down at this time. There were a lot of pauses along the trail for some water after the heat of the day started to come through the canopy of trees. The trail going up had switchbacks, steep inclines in areas, rocky and tree roots on the trail. There were times when my friend had to help me up with the steps made out of tree roots. Overall I made it up the trail without any incident.

I reached the ledge after an hour of hiking two miles up the trail. The view did not disappoint at all, and the sun made the perfect reason to bask on the rocks looking out over the valley below. The lake below was a beautiful bluish- green color with the banks very visible from the ledge showing how dry the summer has been. From the ledge, you could see Mt Si, North Bend, Tanner/Riverbend, Chester Morse Lake, Christmas Lake and Iron Horse State Park Trail.

11145235_10207759989504698_4474455020043415380_oAfter spending an hour on the ledge people watching and resting for the trip back down, I started to see groups of people starting to get crowded the ledge. We decided to start back down the trail after a few people started to push others out-of-the-way on the ledge. While coming down there were a lot of people starting up the trail to the ledge and a few people who were struggling with the heat as they hiked upward. I am so glad the both of us decided to go earlier because marching up the trail with people crowding behind you would not be a fun experience and the weather was getting warmer the longer I was on the trail. When we drove out of the area there were a lot of cars parked on the shoulder of the road and lots of people on or by Rattlesnake Lake.

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I hiked All The Way Up There!

After finishing the hike we stopped in North Bend to refuel ourselves and then head back home to cool off from the Ninety-degree weather.  Now I can check this one hike off my bucket list and try next time to hike up to Upper Ledge which is another 3.8 miles past the lower ledge.

 

Sweaty Hike Through Saint Edwards State Park

Seminary Building

Boy was it hot on the day I decided to go take an urban hike through Saint Edwards State Park! This solo adventure started off with me asking myself is this worth getting sweaty? Yes!

I started out towards the beach (Lake Washington) for a glimpse of the lake from a different angle. I started off on the Perimeter trail, but somehow found myself on the Seminary trail which lead to the beach. The beach was peaceful with the water lapping at the shore, and a few people where swimming in the lake as Kenmore Air float planes came flying overhead.

Peek of Lake Washington

After taking in the view of the lake I headed towards the Orchard Loop. The trail that connects to Orchard Loop trail ended up being the part of the hike that felt like it was going to kill me! South Canyon trail ended up being one of those challenging trails because I had to hike it all uphill!! Here I was huffing, puffing, and sweating all the way to the connection for the loop trail. I now know for future hikes to go down this trail instead of up it. Once on the Orchard Loop trail, it was all easy, and I regained my breath. Unfortunately the “orchard” was nowhere to be found, or I miss something along the trail.  I must have because there was not an orchard to be found as I made the whole loop again. Very disappointed after huffing and puffing my way to it.

After finding my way back to where the seminary buildings are, I decided to find the famous Grotto seen in wedding pictures. Ha! I ended up reading the map wrong! I thought the Grotto trail lead to the Grotto, but nope. Apparently it by passes it from the bottom of the hill instead (palm to face). I hiked all the way back down to the lake, and then had to take Seminary trail back up!

Stone Steps On Trail

Eventually I found a map with the “you are here” circle to finally be steered in the correct direction for the Grotto. Dear reader, I made it harder than it should have been. The Perimeter trail going towards the playground in a corner of the field is where the entrance to the trail leading to the Grotto starts.

Behind Look of The Grotto

Once there I really found it peaceful and secluded. A little slice of magic in the middle of the woods. I joked on Instagram I had found the place where I was getting married….when the time comes….when I find someone first…..ok then.

Selfie with The Grotto

The structure is a small stone altar with stone steps and a path leading up to it. Stone walls border around the area to make it look like small outdoor church/sanctuary. A very beautiful spot for a small intimate wedding.

The Grotto

Leading Up To The Grotto

After hiking lost all around the area, I decided it was time to head back home and get out of the heat. While walking back to the car, I decided to check out around the Seminary building.

Seminary Building From The Lawn

Entrance To The Seminary Building

There is something about old church buildings and how they speak volumes without making a sound. Lots of stories being told in these hollow halls of this building, and judging by the land action notice sign, it seems the place will have a few more to share in the coming years.

Overall I hiked a total of 5.5 miles. Not bad for an urban hike.

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Hiking Adventure At Discovery Park

What to do on a nice warm sunny day in Seattle? Go on a mini hike through Discovery Park. On a warm sunny day Nana and I decided to go explore Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood. It has been a while since I last was here, and some memories came back-mostly at Fort Lawton’s Historical District.

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First I started off on the discovery trail loop toward the West Point Lighthouse at the tip of the park. Being at warm sunny day in the middle of the week, I saw a few trail runners, dog walkers, joggers and a few other day hikers along the trail. Along the North Beach trail, there were a few paddle boarders, sail and fishing boats in the bay, but a the beach was pretty much deserted. A beach to one’s self is rare moment to be treasured!

At the West Point Lighthouse there was hardly anyone around on the beach and a very peaceful quiet setting with a marvelous view of the Olympic Mountains across the bay. Here is where I ate my lunch in a shade of a tree in the backyard of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages. Two lighthouse keeper’s cottages look to be in sad disrepair compare to how the lighthouse looked. The lighthouse is not open to the public to tour because of automotive equipment takes up all the space in the small lighthouse. *note* be careful of lead paint around the lighthouse. After looking around I headed up the trail towards the Historical Fort Lawton area. One area I had to pass was the West Point Sewage Treatment Plant within the park. I forgot how nasty it is to walk pass this place on a hot summer day! I almost lost my lunch to putrid smell of untreated sewage waffling off the large tanks near the trail.

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Next stop on the hike was the Fort Lawton Historical District. Up until 2011 this part of the park was an Army base. There are a few structures left to signify the remains of an active military post.The last time I was here in 2014, most of the buildings looked very dilapidated. Now they look all cleaned up and restored to blend in with the renovated officer’s houses going on the market. Twenty two of the remaining base houses have been converted into privet residences for the public to buy at an asking price of $799,000 to over 1.2 million. Base on the Zillow photos, these are not the base housing you would be assigned in the military. Few people were about in this part of the park, and came across a few people sitting in the shade of the buildings enjoying the quietness of a hot summer day. On top of the hill is the church where a stunning view of the snow cap peaks of the Olympic Mountain range can be seen.

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On the way back to the car, I came upon the old Fort Lawton Military Cemetery with bone white head stones in neat rows. The cemetery is small compared to the national ones I have been to. A quiet secluded place of rest for the living and those who have passed on. One of the headstones I came across dated back to the 1908 era when a family (Robinson’s) were laid to rest after fighting in the American Civil, Spanish-American and Mexican wars. This like many others in the small section had Civil War to World War Two as the wars represented by those laid to rest here. For a few moments I sat and reflected in this peaceful place under the flag pole.

The hike in total was five miles all around the park. I am very glad to have seen all of the sights with relative peace and quiet. I have come to a point where it is getting too crowed in Seattle area, and having less crowds to enjoy the park was well worth the sweat.