Hikes of the Week 2011
These are hikes that have been featured on the WTA website in 2011. Be sure to follow the links to our Hiking Guide with more 1,000 full hike descriptions and driving directions, most courtesy of Mountaineers Books and its guidebook authors. You can also access our Hike of the Week archives for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Mount Spokane Snowshoe Trails
December 28, 2011
Mount Spokane State Park is a year-round recreational gem that boasts one of the inland Northwest's tallest peaks at 5,889 feet; it is also Washington's largest state park. While it is best known for its downhill and Nordic ski areas, Mount Spokane is also a great place to snowshoe. There are six official trails ranging from easy to difficult.
Old Sauk River
December 22, 2011
Meandering along the Old Sauk River near Darrington, hikers will be embraced by the old growth forest and everything that comes with it - moss carpeting, intriguing fungi, the sound of the river and much more. This is a great year-round destination and one that the whole family can enjoy.
Skyline Lake Snowshoe
December 15, 2011
Dramatic mounds of snow, a frozen lake and sweeping views into the Alpine Lakes and Glacier Peak Wildernesses await snowshoers at Skyline Lake. Easily accessed from the Stevens Pass ski area, this steep and rewarding ridge walk is a classic on a sunny day. What's more, no parking passes are required at the trailhead.
December 8, 2011
Usually accessible year-round, the hike along Boulder River is always a pleasure. A mostly level trail through huge trees takes hikers to not just one - but two - waterfalls cascading down the steep canyon walls. Do watch for ice on the trail and consider bringing trekking poles in winter.
Artist Point Snowshoe
December 1, 2011
The snow and the views are unparalleled at Mount Baker. Take advantage of a sunny day and head up from the ski area to Kulshan Ridge, where Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan seem close enough to touch. Snowshoes or skis - this is one of the best winter excursions around.
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
November 24, 2011
As the massive rains of Thanksgiving week subside, leaving behind mud and slushy snow, where can you take the in-laws, Grandma and the kids? Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge fits the bill, with its new mile-long boardwalk that juts into the Nisqually Estuary. Your feet will stay dry, and you are guaranteed to see wildlife. But probably no turkeys.
Slab Camp Creek to the Gray Wolf River
November 17, 2011
The first lowland snows of the season can transform lowland hikes like Slab Camp Creek into something special. On this trail start high and hike downhill to the Gray Wolf River, loudly cascading through an old growth stand of tall cedars. Look for thick moss and unusual mushrooms popping out of the forest floor.
November 11, 2011
Looking for a good November hike with decent elevation gain, little snow and awesome views of Seattle, Puget Sound and the Olympics? Look no further than Green Mountain, Kitsap Peninsula's second highest peak. This hike is a loop trip. Motors are allowed on the trail but are largely absent this time of year, leaving you to enjoy the peaceful views.
Camano Island State Park
November 3, 2011
If you're not yet ready to snowshoe or ski, opt for exploring Camano Island State Park this weekend. Enjoy its unspoiled beaches and family- friendly walks along the bluffs overlooking the water. On the Marsh Trail you may even catch a final glimpse of fall color as you wander through strands of mature maple.
October 27, 2011
Hurry for the final days of the fall color on Granite Mountain. It's a tough one - 3800 vertical feet in 4 miles - but the reward is an amazing 360-degree view at the lookout tower on the top. A dusting of snow greeted a hiker on the 25th, and those making the climb should bring gaiters and traction devices for safety. Winter is just around the corner.
October 20, 2011
Embrace the rainy forecast and hike along one of Washington's many fantastic rivers. The Lime Kiln trail combines history with a pleasant stroll along the South Fork Stillaguamish River. Focus on the small things here: rusty old relics from the mining days; colorful and abundant mushrooms and fungus; and a good chance to see spawning salmon.
October 13, 2011
Larch Alert! Head to the North Cascades for the final - and possibly best - week of fall color. At Cutthroat Pass, the larches are peaking and the vibrant red huckleberry bushes are none too shabby either. Hike this breathtaking section of the PCT to an alpine saddle that will overwhelm your senses with its sweeping mountain views and special autumn beauty.
Icicle Gorge Loop
October 6, 2011
The Upper Icicle Road reopened on October 8th, giving hikers access to trails off-limits since 2008. The Icicle Gorge loop makes for an enjoyable fall hike. This four mile loop starts at Chatter Creek and wanders through a narrow gorge along Icicle Creek. Enjoy the frothy rapids, the red vine maple and impressive bridge over the fast-moving creek.
Old Wagon Road
September 29, 2011
Seek out the sun this weekend by hiking in Eastern Washington. The Old Wagon Road trail in Steamboat Rock State Park offers a bird's eye view of Northrup Canyon and the Grand Coulee area. Views are expansive, wildlife abounds and hunters are not allowed in the park. Time for more than one hike? Also check out Steamboat Rock and Northrup Canyon.
September 22, 2011
This completely revamped trail to Beckler Peak was officially dedicated last weekend, offering hikers an awesome new choice for hiking on the west side of Stevens Pass. Hike through pleasant forest to the summit and 360 views into the Wild Sky Wilderness and the mountains all around.
September 14, 2011
One of the grandest hikes in Olympic National Park, this high elevation trail along Grand Ridge surely won’t disappoint. At 6,600 feet, Grand Ridge won’t be snow-free for long, so take advantage of it while you can. Keep an eye out for marmots and maybe even an elusive bear while enjoying mountain peaks as far as the eye can see.
Evergreen Mountain Lookout
September 8, 2011
Sometimes you need to stop to smell (and identify and photograph) the flowers. On this short sweet hike in the Wild Sky Wilderness, you'll have plenty of time to do just that. You can linger again once you reach the lookout, taking time to identify peak after peak after peak. Little perks include the fact that WTA's been here recently to do fix-up work, and the road has just been regraded, too. Read more.
Snowy Lakes - Golden Horn
September 1, 2011
Wind your way through the North Cascades to camp near Upper or Lower Snowy Lakes. You'll leave most folks at Cutthroat Pass and likely have whole stretches of the PCT to yourself after Granite Pass, with only verdant valleys and burnished mountains as your companions. (Just be sure to pack your bug spray and a camera with plenty of juice.)
August 25, 2011
While crowds are headed to Spider Meadows on the Phelps Creek Trail, turn off and head to lush Carne Basin and the Carne Mountain summit through brilliant green larches. The trail is now clear, and snow-free, and the summit views of Clark Mountain and the Entiat Mountains can't be beat. You'll definitely want to plan a return trip in October.
August 18, 2011
We know you want to get high up at Mount Rainier, and you can. Head to Sunrise and take the trail to Fremont Lookout. Dizzying heights. Rocky alpine wildflowers. Spot-on views of The Mountain, and as far as Mount Baker. All in less than 6 miles roundtrip and 800 feet elevation gain. Your price: lots of company.
August 11, 2011
The snow is finally melting in the North Cascades, allowing access to one of its most distinctive and popular trails. The wildflowers are blooming and only patches of snow remain. You’ll be glad you made the trip as you pass by waterfall after waterfall in some of the most beautiful alpine landscapes that the Northwest has to offer. Continuing on to the Sahale Arm is possible, but more snow might be encountered. Read more.
Silver Star Mountain
August 3, 2011
You won't be sorry you took a long drive to reach the trail to Silver Star Mountain. Last weekend a hiker counted 40 different species of wildflowers along the ridgeline trail. And when it is clear, hello volcanoes! Mounts Hood, Rainier and St. Helens stand tall along the horizon. Oh, and did we mention the natural stone arch?
July 28, 2011
The hike to little Lake Caroline showcases all of the flowers and fabulous views, but few of the Enchantments-area crowds. The section between Little Eightmile Lake and Lake Caroline is reported to be in peak bloom, with lupine throughout and washes of paintbrush, yarrow, balsamroot and more. Those with camping permits can reap more views by heading to Windy Pass and beyond.
July 21, 2011
As a day hike or overnight destination - or as a pass-through stop on the way to the High Divide, sweet Deer Lake will greet you. Hikers will enjoy the picturesque, but crowded, Sol Doc Falls, and then shed the swarms as they climb to this green, forested lake. With the snow melting, soon hikers will be able to easily explore beyond the lake to one of the prettiest places in the state.
Kachess Ridge & Beacon
July 14, 2011
Looking for a steep, snow-free trail off of Snoqualmie Pass? Try Kachess Ridge. It's on the east side of the pass (so it's sunnier), it's challenging (2200 feet in 3 miles), the flowers are blooming, and the views from the Beacon are pretty fabulous. If you can fend off the mosquitoes and a sometimes rough trail, you'll be a happy hiker.
July 7, 2011
The west side of Mount St. Helens is ready for hikers! From the Hummucks Trail to the South Coldwater Lake Trail, there are places to go hiking and let your imagination go wild. This weekend, hike the 8-mile roundtrip to Harry's Ridge for great views of the volcano and a peak at how the blast zone has recovered since 1980.
Fourth of July Pass
June 30, 2011
Snow-free hiking in the North Cascades? Yes! A and Fourth of July Pass hike (or backpack) is just the ticket. Start out in cool forest along raging Thunder Creek. Then make the steep ascent to Fourth of July camp. Hikers report that the views from there are just as good as at the pass, and we think this photo attests to the great beauty awaiting hikers here.
Iron Bear - Teanaway Ridge
June 22, 2011
If you're looking for a snow-free hike, featuring profuse flowers and clear skies, look no further than Blewett Pass and the hike up to the Teanaway Ridge from Iron Creek (a.k.a. Iron Bear). Flower hounds flock to this trail every year for its stunning variety of species. Photographers love the trail for its views of Mount Stuart, Mount Rainier and more. There's only one downside: motorbikes. But it's still worth it. Read more.
June 16, 2011
Where should you go hiking for Father's Day? Heybrook Lookout has the goods for a winning hike with your father or your kids. It's a tad bit steep, but short. It's easy to get to off of Highway 2, allowing time for a family brunch along the way. It's snow-free. And on a clear day the views from the 67-foot lookout tower are sublime.
East Fork Foss River
June 8, 2011
As Trip Reporter Robert Michelson says, this hike provides "Solitude with a capital S." East Fork Foss River also offers a delightful snow-free valley hike, with lots of spring wildflowers, roaring water, croaking frogs, views and several stream crossings. The five-mile mark makes for a good day hike, or later in the year hikers can tackle the challenging next four miles and ascend into the gorgeous Necklace Valley.
Weldon Wagon Road
June 2, 2011
Amazing stands of Oregon white oak. Undulating hills of wildflowers and green. Spot-on views of Mount Hood. Rusty old farm equipment. All are part of the Weldon Wagon Road trail, built at the turn of the last century and long abandoned for its original purpose. Come to this quiet northeastern corner of the Columbia River Gorge for some excellent hiking on this and other nearby trails.
May 26, 2011
Memorial Day is upon us! Time to dust off that backpack and hit the trail - or the beach. You can day hike to Hole-in-the-Wall, an incredibly picturesque natural arch north of Rialto Beach, or camp at a number of sites along the Northwest Wilderness Beach between Rialto Beach and Sand Point. The surf is soothing, the views are sublime and the tidepools are waiting. Remember to bring a tide table!
May 19, 2011
With the North Cascades Highway still closed, this hike will deliver not only tranquility as it meanders along Thunder Creek but also solitude. The way is reported to be snow-free to McAllister Camp, an excellent early season backpacking destination. Or simply take a day hike to admire the vast stand of old growth and the swiftly moving creek. .
May 12, 2011
You won't find any rattlesnakes on the ledges, but you will find great views of Mount Si, the Snoqualmie River Valley and the Cascades. The two-mile trail to the top is a testament to the handiwork of WTA volunteers and others who carved it out several years go. Admire their work and enjoy the hike! Read more.
Deception Pass State Park
May 5, 2011
The weather looks rainy - everywhere - for Mother's Day weekend. But did you know that the tulips are still in bloom in Skagit County, and that the colors are more vivid on grey days? Pair the tulip fields with a short hike at Deception Pass State Park. There are more than 40 miles of trails to choose from, but a short jaunt out to Rosario Head or Lighthouse Point just might be the ticket.
Bridal Veil Falls
April 28, 2011
It's the start of waterfall season in Washington. As the snow melts, the cascades increase in volume and show. This trail to pretty Bridal Veil Falls has mostly melted out, and offers hikers a great 5 mile hike. But if you wish to proceed further to Lake Serene, you'll want to bring traction devices and/or snowshoes.
Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area
April 20, 2011
You might need a whiskey if you stepped on a spiky (but pretty) hedgehog cactus. Hikers are reporting that the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area is currently coming alive with wildflowers. Bring your camera and your field guide. For those hikers who prefer vistas to flora, there's plenty of that to go around too.
April 15, 2011
National parks are free this week, so why not visit the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park? A WTA Volunteer Vacation spent last week on the trail and report the usual great stuff: a gorgeous river, huge trees, lots of moss, every shade of green and elk. Oh, and rain too. But that's part of the appeal.
April 7, 2011
You may encounter some snow on this oft-overlooked mountain near North Bend, but not too much. Cedar Butte is an excellent alternative to Mount Si and Rattlesnake Ledges. With all of the views and few of the people, it may be one of the best kept secrets on the west side of Snoqualmie Pass.
Lower Lena Lake
March 31, 2011
Lower Lena Lake is overused during the summer but is delightfully peaceful in the spring. Pass through tall trees to one of the most easily-reached backcountry lakes in the Olympics. Be sure to bring many layers. The hike may start out warm, but there is lingering snow and a cool wind at the lake.
March 23, 2011
Get a workout and enjoy the stunning scenery on Hamilton Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. There's a nine mile loop climbing 2000 vertical feet that will take you past waterfalls and emerging wildflowers to the ridge and summit where Mount Hood is only spitting distance away.
Rockport State Park
March 15, 2011
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! What a fine weekend to celebrate the color green, and Rockport State Park certainly delivers. Lush fern understory, draping moss, towering firs and impressive cedars make this a place where you just might encounter a leprechaun.
March 10, 2011
Visit the San Juan Islands in the off-season, and you may just have the place to yourself. San Juan Island offers long beaches, rich history and rewarding hiking. The hike up Mount Finlayson and the views from the top are spectacular and can be combined with any number of other fun activities on the island.
Gazzam Lake & Close Beach
March 3, 2011
Looking to avoid snowy and slippery hiking conditions? Stick to coastlines this week. One of many great options on Bainbridge Island is Gazzam Lake and Close Beach - 400 acres of undeveloped forest and beach. Stretch your legs, revel in the peaceful forest and enjoy some fine views from the beach.
Blewett Pass is one of the best areas in the state for skiing and snowshoeing, and this week's snow should make for some best conditions of the year. Of the many options, try the Wenatchee Crest. It's easy-going, with fabulous views Tronsen Ridge and beyond all along the way.
February 17, 2011
Oyster Dome is the pearl of the Chuckanuts - where Blanchard Mountain emerges directly from Puget Sound. Hikers will be rewarded with fabulous views over Puget Sound and out to the Olympics, big boulders to play on, and a great workout, It's a place that fuels the imagination and can refuel you on a winter's day.
February 10, 2011
Winter is an excellent season to hike in Central Washington. It may be too early for wildflowers, but plenty of opportunities to appreciate the power of massive and repeated floods that shaped this area during the Ice Age. Hiking Frenchman Coulee has the added enticement of a towering seasonal waterfall.
Steam Donkey Trail
February 2, 2011
This week head to the Steam Donkey Trail, where mushrooms are the stars of the show, not donkeys. This easy 3.5 mile loop trail located just off Highway 101 at Dosewallips State Park also features views of the Dosewallips River, serene forest and even the chance to see wildlife.
January 26, 2011
Twin Falls is always an impressive sight, but recent warmer weather has this 150-foot cascade running at full throttle. It's an easy 3 mile roundtrip hike along the South Fork Snoqualmie River that provides spectacular views of the falls from a bridge and viewing platform.
January 20, 2011
Take a hike that promises great views! Mount Walker won't disappoint. You'll see Hood Canal, the Seattle skyline, Mt. Constance, Mt. Jupiter and east to Mt. Baker and more. Plus no crowds. In winter the road to the summit is gated, so you'll encounter only those willing to hoof it to the top.
Kendall Peak Lakes
January 13, 2011
From the Gold Creek Sno-Park atop Snoqualmie Pass, a winter playground is yours to explore. Beginners can tromp around Mardee Lake and the Lower Gold Creek Basin, and more experienced folks can opt to press up to Kendall Peak Lakes for some awesome views.
January 5, 2011
This little preserve, tucked away in a rainshadow on Whidbey Island, has a blustery bluff with amazing panoramic views of the Olympics and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a long beach and a rare saltwater lagoon. Go in any season, and especially a clear day, and you'll understand why folks rave about this hike. Read more.