Hobbit Hikes: Washington's Middle-earth
When you come out of the movie theater after seeing The Hobbit, which opens in theaters at midnight tonight, you may have the urge to go on an epic adventure of your very own. Let WTA help you bring out your inner Bilbo Baggins with a few seasonal hikes that bring the book and movie to life.
Nice hobbit-sized hikes
Federation Forest State Park
Green, mossy old growth trees, miles of level hiking and a special Gnome Village along an historic pioneer trail are the main attractions at Federation Forest State Park. More than 12 miles of trails wind through the forest and hikers can put together loops to fit their hiking needs. It started several years ago with a single gnome and a small house, but it has bloomed into a full-on village today. Wee tables and chairs, a tiny hammock, a miniature outhouse, micro gardens and much more inhabit this forest village.
Support your hiking habit
It is not an easy place to find. It's small, after all. It's also a couple of miles down a lonely trail that isn't maintained very well. Your best chance to locate the Hobbit Village is to go when the visitor center is open for a map and directions. It's on the main Naches Trail that heads west from the center, but even hikers who have found it before are unable to locate it on return visits. Make a treasure hunt of it and enjoy your success if you do indeed find the forest gnomes.
Rockport State Park
There are places at Rockport State Park on Highway 20 where a steady rain barely penetrates the tree canopy. Some areas are as dark as it gets, courtesy of some of the biggest firs, cedars and hemlocks you've ever seen. The moss is thick, growing everywhere - even on the picnic tables! Bring your copy of The Hobbit on this trail, and you'll see the type of place that provided Tolkien his inspiration.
What better place to go all J.R.R. Tolkien than the otherworldly temperate rainforest of the Hoh River Valley in Olympic National Park. Walk the short interpretive Hall of Mosses loop or any number of miles along the Hoh River. Massive trees, enormous ferns and a good chance of encountering elk (especially in winter) will make you feel very Hobbitish. And going in wintertime will practically guarantee solitude.
A Lord of the Rings adventure
Feeling more like Frodo than Bilbo? Head into the North Cascades for an epic snowshoe among the jagged peaks surrounding Artist Point or, in the spring, check out the Iron Horse Tunnel trail (not open in winter) to see how you'd do in the Mines of Moria.
Where is your go-to Middle-earth hike?
Have a trail that makes you feel like you're heading out of the Shire and towards the Misty Mountains? What reminds you of Rivendell? The plains of Rohan? Share it with us in the comments below.