Hobbit Hikes Part 2: Washington's Middle-earth
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters at midnight tonight, and if you've ever hiked in Washington, the awe-inspiring scenery may look familiar. If you're feeling the need to seek out an epic adventure (or a dragon) after watching the movie, WTA's got you covered.
From Mirkwood's gloom to The Lonely Mountain's craggy peaks, we've found Washington versions of places in the first two films from Peter Jackson's vision of J. R. R. Tolkien's classic tale. Some of the trails you can hike or snowshoe right now; the others will have to wait until next spring and summer.
Can't get enough Hobbit Hikes? Check out last year's blog with hiker suggestions for more ideas. And if you have your own thoughts about which of Washington's mountains is the Loneliest (Mount St. Helens, maybe?), share your Hobbit moments on trail in the comments below.
Snowshoe Artist Point
You'll feel like you're approaching the Desolation of Smaug when you snowshoe under the lofty peaks Mount Baker and Mount Shuskan at Artist Point. >> Snowshoe Artist point.
Hike Oyster Dome
Channel the athleticism and grace of your inner elf as you scale the trail to the rocky top of Oyster Dome, which will give you ocean views not too far off from these in the new film (which we think must be the Long Lake). >> Hike Oyster Dome.
Hike Ape Caves
Mirkwood Forest is so dark you might need to head into Ape Caves (shown below) to get the same effect. On the other hand, venturing under the tree canopy of Rockport State Park or the Hoh River Trail on a gloomy day might offer a similar feeling.
>> Hike Ape Caves (snow may require a snowshoe from the gate, once it is closed for the season).
A late summer backpacking trip (for hobbits)
Take a journey worthy of Bilbo and head into the backcountry for two or five nights next summer. One way to feel like you're approaching the towering heights of Erabor (we think) is to climb up and over Granite Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail. From there, you'll take in the red rock views of Tower Mountain (shown below).
>> Backpacking 101
Hike Tiffany Mountain
Another hike to plan on for next summer. Take a trip to the Okanogan Highlands and you'll feel like you're stepping into a scene from the first film of The Lord of the Rings. The wide-open, high-elevation rocky grasslands of Tiffany Mountain will have you peeking under every other boulder for a secret passageway. >> Save Tiffany Mountain to your My Backpack.
Hike Horseshoe Basin
You can start to hike Horseshoe Basin in the Pasayten Wilderness as early as June, but you might as well make it a backpack. You'll want to spend time traveling the high plains and tundra that so resembles the high plains of Middle-earth. There are also a few spots, when Horseshoe Basin is particularly lush and full of wildflowers, where its rolling hills looks like nothing so much as The Shire. >> Save Horseshoe Basin to your My Backpack.
Hike Kamiak Butte (aka The Shire)
Hikers in Washington often have the delightful experience of feeling like they just stumbled into The Shire. In spring, the lush rolling hills of the Palouse as seen from the Kamiak Butte Trail in southeast Washington are a strong contender for Shire-status. The best time to tackle this trail is March-October. >> Save Kamiak Butte to your My Backpack.
Support our work in 2014 (and make Hobbit Hikes: Part 3 a reality)
Did you know that Washington Trails Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit that relies on community support to make our work possible? If you liked this post, use WTA's website to find hiking ideas information or want to support our volunteers on trail, please consider making a special year-end donation today. Your tax-deductible gift of $15, $40 or more will keep us going strong in 2014. Thank you!