Adventure guide: Five post-holiday hikes
November 25, 2015
Serious. Food. Coma.
If those three words are resonating with you on Friday and you’re pulling on the really roomy yoga pants, we know what you need. No! Put down the pie. Go for a hike!
Instead of getting your exercise battling the mall crowds, why not bound into the bounty of the outdoors this year and enjoy a Green Friday? Need some ideas for a great hike before getting on that scale? Here’s just a few…
The Beach Walk
Dosewallips State Park
Where it is: Just off Highway 101 on the western shores of the Hood Canal, near Brinnon.
What it’s got: All the beauty of coastal Washington and the protected climate of the inland Puget Sound. Dosewallips is a saltwater delta with all the trimmings of a classic northwest forest. The easy, 3.5-mile Steam Donkey Loop Trail winds you through conifers, alder and maple. Relax! There’re benches along the way just in case you brought a few leftovers for lunch.
Bring your boots – you’ll be skipping across creeks and along the rocky shore. And don’t forget your binoculars! Large herds of Roosevelt elk are frequently spotted grazing in the park (NEVER approach them!). Hungry for something other than turkey? Bring a bucket, shovel and your shellfishing license. Oyster and clam digs are open year round! Don’t forget to check the Department of Health website before you dig to make sure conditions are safe first, however!
The Summit Sally
Mount Pilchuck State Park
Where it is: Granite Falls on the western edge of the North Cascades Mountains.
What it’s got: Looking for a thigh-busting mountain hike with an unparalleled view at the top? Mount Pilchuck, with its signature fire lookout at the top, is just the ticket! The trail is relatively short – just three miles. But you gain 2,200 feet of elevation. That extra gravy will no longer be an issue!
You’ll be hiking over uneven trail through sun-dappled, old-growth forest. The weather, especially this time of year, is unpredictable. You may encounter snow, wind or other conditions so be prepared—and make sure to bring water! Check weather conditions before you go. You may even need snowshoes in addition to your hiking boots! Once you are at the top it’s all worthwhile. Panoramic views of the Cascades, Olympics and Puget Sound greet you at the summit.
The Riverside Romp
Centennial Trail State Park Where it is: Along the Spokane River from Nine Mile Falls to the Idaho border.
What it’s got: Nice and easy! If you live on the east side and are looking for a pleasant walk with the family, this is it! Built on the path of an old railroad line, this is a mostly-flat hike through sparse pine forests.
With current weather conditions, you might be sharing the trail with enthusiasts of myriad sports from mountain biking to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Walking and snow play are always popular, too! Drop in at any spot along the 37-mile trail, which begins at Nine Mile Falls. Bring good weather gear — the winds pick up pretty hard out here!
The Falls in the Forest
Wallace Falls State Park
Where it is: Near Gold Bar on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.
What it’s got: Moderate elevation gains, nine spectacular falls and picturesque treks through emerald forests. Wallace Falls is a hiker’s treasure trove! Meander through thick, fern and moss-rich undergrowth in hemlock forests and over bridges crossing rushing streams. This park packs plenty of wow-factor, especially for those out-of-town guests!
Many hikers call it a day at Middle Falls. In addition to a spectacular 265-foot water fall here, you’ll find views of the Olympic Mountains and the Skykomish River valley. But if you are feeling extra empowered by all that cranberry sauce, proceed on up a steep half mile of switchbacks where you’ll find even more photo ops!
The Island Exploration
Lime Kiln Point State Park
Where it is: Near Friday Harbor on the west side of San Juan Island
What it’s got: At just 1.25 miles and practically flat, this is certainly not a difficult hike. But it is fun!
At this time of year, it’s not likely you will spot orca, which frequent the area in summer. You can, however, get some great family photos (holiday cards people?) at the century-old (and still in use) lighthouse. Then follow the interpretive trail down the steep stairs to the old wood-fired lime kilns. Now abandoned, these kilns provided the island’s primary source of income a century ago.
Interested in a turkey shoot? With your camera of course…
Check out this blog from our friends at the Washington State Parks Foundation to find state parks where you just might spot some wild turkeys in their natural environment!
What do you do like to do on the day after Thanksgiving?
Tell us about it! Share your stories and photos here.