Tag Archives: Washington

National Get Outdoors Day

Want an excuse to have an outdoor adventure? Well, to be honest, you really don’t need an excuse—if anything, you probably need a reason not to get out there instead! Whether you’re looking for a reason or an excuse, though, it is now here in the form of National Get Outdoors Day.

Saturday, June 11 is this year’s National Get Outdoors Day, and you can partake in some amazing outdoor adventures at a local state or national park. Here are just some of specific events that you can enjoy with your loved ones!

People outdoors.

It’s time to explore the great outdoors! [Image: http://theadventureblog.blogspot.com/]

Upper Kern Cleanup, California

The Sequoia Recreation, which is a division of the California Land Management within the U.S. Forest Service, meets every year on the second weekend of June (this year, they’ll be meeting on June 11) to join together and clean the Upper Kern area. The Kern River is a valuable resource as a clean and safe waterway, and volunteers work relentlessly each year to ensure that its remains as such.

Learn more information here.

Get Outdoors Family Fishing Picnic, Pennsylvania

Bring your whole family out for a relaxing fishing trip on Sunday, June 12 at the Tussey Mountain Pond. They’ll provide the tackle for anyone who wants to join in on this idyllic Sunday afternoon. So bring your rods and see what you can hook!

Learn more information here.

Kid in a log.

Peek-a-boo! [Image: http://www.getoutdoorscolorado.org/]

Loop Lake Shelbyville Bike Ride, Illinois

If you’re searching for an end of spring bike-venture, then look no further than Loop Lake Shelbyville ride! There are three options for cyclists of all levels: a short 22-mile ride, a medium length 46-miles, and a longer 65-mile trek. So whether this is your first time around the lake, so to speak, or you’re a seasoned bike tourer, this is a great way to get outside and enjoy yourself!

Learn more information here.

Family biking.

Nothing like a family bike ride! [Image: https://totalwomenscycling.com/]

Get Outdoors Adventure Awaits Expo, Washington

Looking to try a new outdoor activity? Then look no further than the National Get Outdoors Day Outdoor Expo at Millersylvania State Park on June 11! It’s a fun day for the whole family, filled with prizes, demos, kid activities, and the chance to learn about (or even try!) a new outdoor activity. It’s the perfect place to be if you’re looking to fill your summer up with outdoor fun.

Learn more information here.

This is just a sample of all the many parks that will be holding events this weekend for National Get Outdoors Day. You can find more participating areas here. And before you go, don’t forget to make sure you download your state’s Pocket Ranger® mobile app so you can make the best of your adventure. Happy travels!

Spring Whitewater Rafting

For many of us the arrival of spring brings with it blooming flowers, the year’s first warm rays of sunlight, and that ache to be outside. But for others the warmth in the air conjures images of mountain snowpack melt-off and engorged rivers coursing with fury and speed where at other times of the year they seem to merely trickle, tame and listless. Spring marks the start of whitewater rafting season across much of the U.S. Here are a few parks that offer adventures that range in difficulty but are all certain to delight thrill-seekers of all skill levels.

Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park, Tennessee

[Image: tnstateparks.com]

Kayakers and rafters should be watchful for each other while taking a trip on the river, though sometimes they can seem to be swallowed from view. [Image: tnstateparks.com/]

This park is a well-known site for whitewater rafting and for having been the site of the canoe and kayak slalom races during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The two rivers in the park’s name are scenic and rife with adventure, and there is access to whitewater that ranges from Class I to Class IV.

You can find out how to get on the water by contacting the park.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Colorado

[Image: wikipedia.org]

The Arkansas River is giving these recreationists a run for their money. [Image: wikipedia.org/]

This area spans a swath of the Arkansas River, the upper portion of which is one of the most popular whitewater runs in the U.S. In the spring and summer, hundreds of rafters take on the challenges of the Arkansas, which range from Class II to Class V in difficulty.

If you’re interested in taking on the river, the recreation area has compiled a list of outfitters for you to peruse.

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, Washington

[Image: www.raftingamerica.com]

Lush moss and seductive green hues can be a distraction from the dangers at hand. It’s probably best to make a week-long trip of it and take lots of hikes to get used to the mesmerizing scenery. [Image: www.raftingamerica.com/]

The whitewater at Green River Gorge is best usually during spring and fall and is for expert enthusiasts only, but the incredible sights and challenges are worthy of note and aspiration. If you’re equal to the risks in the gorge, you can embark or land your boat at the park by hand. If the gorge is a bit too risky for you, there are two miles of Green River shoreline to explore, and you can at least admire the daredevils in their rafts and kayaks while you take in a stunningly beautiful hike.

For more information you can contact the park here.

[Image: advgamer.blogspot.com]

Little did we know that this would become true, brought to you through the power of Google image search. [Image: advgamer.blogspot.com/]

Rivers have kept us connected since the advent of the boat, and for just as long it’s been true that there’s rarely a better bonding experience than a trip with your team in a watercraft and the nature that surrounds you. The important things to remember, as always with extreme sports, are to know your limits and to do your homework. And as always you’ll find plenty of rivers to tackle, take in, and appreciate with our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, even if a barbecue spatula is more your speed than an oar!

Cuddle Up with Your Valentine at a National Park

There’s so much pressure behind Valentine’s Day. Do you go out to dinner, cook a romantic meal, or dare to try something new? Should you buy chocolates, flowers, and cute stuffed animals for your love, or is it time to toss out the conventional ideas and strive for a more heartfelt gift? Or do you ditch the holiday entirely, head out with your closest friends, and toast to your everlasting friendships? Luckily with the aid of our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, a more unique Valentine’s Day is (literally) right at your fingertips.

Holding a heart outdoors.

Fall in love with the great outdoors—you can even bring your valentine if you want! [Image: http://www.projectinspired.com/]

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Singles Awareness Day, or Galentine’s Day with your closest buddies, it can be a day well-spent in a national park. Believe it or not, there are some pretty romantic parks out there, complete with entrancing sunsets, bubbling brooks, and fireworks (metaphorically, of course).

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska

February in Alaska might be a little chilly, but that’s just all the more reason to cuddle up close to your valentine! The park is made up of more than three million acres of sweeping, jaw-dropping vistas that’ll have you wondering why you haven’t done a national park-themed holiday sooner. You can take a romantic kayak ride for two along one of the icy fjords, hold hands while whale watching, and sip on creamy hot cocoa together. Icy blue is the new pink this year.

Kayaking in Alaska.

Imagine kayaking with your love, and THIS is the backdrop. [Image: http://travel.aarp.org/]

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

It’s hard to think of places that are more stunning in the United States than the Grand Canyon. You can either go the adventurous route and try for an inner canyon hike, or you can just hug your honey and take in the sights. Either way, it’s hard to mess up a trip to the Grand Canyon, especially when you’re in good company.

The Grand Canyon.

Oh, hey, look out—you dropped your jaw there. [Image: http://utah.com/]

Zion National Park, Utah

For active couples, Zion National Park is an ideal spot to break a sweat, make lasting memories, and see breathtaking sights. Maybe you’re opting toward hiking The Narrows, one of the most popular hiking areas in the park. Or perhaps climbing the coarse sandstone cliffs is more your style. And the action doesn’t have to end after just one day—Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year, so extend your trip and camp out under the stars after a day of exciting adventuring! The pink and red sandstone be sure to get you in a romantic mood.

Zion National Park.

It may be February, but those chills you’re feeling aren’t just from the weather. [Image: http://www.zionnationalpark.com/]

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachussetts

Maybe you’re more of the “relax on the beach and let your cares melt away in the sun” type instead, making Cape Code the right place for you. You can head out on a relaxing beachy bike ride for two, hit the cute shops, and admire the glistening waves (you probably won’t want to swim unless you’re a seasoned Polar Bear Plunger, though). The tickle of salty ocean air in your nose will give you butterflies for years to come!

Cape Cod.

We’re already kicking our shoes off and reaching for our flip flops, too. [Image: http://www.afterthe9to5.com/]

Olympic National Park, Washington

The almost one million acres that make up Olympic National Park are steeped in beauty—it’s an area where you can take a deep breath and practically watch the stress fall from your shoulders. Whether you want to kiss among snow-capped mountains, take a romantic walk along the shore, or admire the flora and fauna of the temperate rainforest, you’ll find all are possible at this amazing park. It’s another site where you’ll probably want to extend your trip just to try and see everything (spoiler: a weekend probably isn’t quite enough time, but we commend the effort!).

Olympic National Park.

Temperate rainforests, sandy shorelines, and icy mountaintops—oh my! [Image: https://www.youtube.com/]

Hopefully these serve as enough motivation to try something new this Valentine’s Day! These are just a few spots where you can connect with nature as well as your loved one. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up falling in love with a national park this year, too.

Hiking To Twin Falls in a Torrential Downpour

Contributed by Grant Thomas

A few days ago, my friend Andrew and I set out to explore Olallie State Park in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. We planned on hiking to Talapus and Olallie Lakes, located off Exit 48 on Highway I-90, but as we got closer to the trailhead, we quickly realized we would need to come up with a new plan—the snowstorm that was passing throughout Snoqualmie Pass and most of Western Washington hit harder than expected. We briefly pulled over to assess the situation, and as we watched the snow continue to come down harder and harder, we decided to turn around. Not wanting to get snowed in, Andrew and I opted for a lower elevation hike at Twin Falls in order to escape the foot of snow that was predicted to fall within the next few hours. Fortunately, Twin Falls is also located in Olallie State Park, and the trailhead was just a few miles away off Exit 38.

We arrived at the trailhead a little after 10:00 a.m. With the torrential downpour that was taking place (the snow had turned to rain now that we were no longer in Snoqualmie Pass), it wasn’t a surprise to us that there was only one other car in the parking lot. I placed my Discover Pass (if you do not already have one, you can pay the $10 fee for a single day pass) on my dash, and we set off.

The trail started out with very little elevation gain as it meandered along the South Fork Snoqualmie River. Oftentimes you can find people fishing this river during the spring and summer months, but being that it was winter, the river was empty. After hiking alongside the river for about a half mile, we began to gain some elevation. After another half mile of hiking, we reached a viewpoint of the falls. There are two benches where you can sit and rest your legs while taking in the beautiful waterfall.

Lower Twin Falls

Lower Twin Falls as viewed from the second viewing area. [Image: Grant Thomas]

After a brief rest on the benches, Andrew and I ventured the last half mile to the second viewing area of the Lower Twin Falls. This section of the trail is much steeper than the first, and one should take caution as it can be slippery during the rainy season.

Lower Twin Falls and the pool the waterfall feeds into

Lower Twin Falls and the pool the waterfall feeds into. [Image: Grant Thomas]

The second viewing area can be accessed via steps that lead down to a platform. This is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the incredible 150-foot waterfall and take pictures before hiking to the Upper Twin Falls. After taking a few shots of our own, Andrew and I walked a few hundred yards to a wooden footbridge that was perfect for viewing the Upper Twin Falls.

Upper Twin Falls as viewed from the bridge above the Lower Twin Falls

Upper Twin Falls as viewed from the bridge above the Lower Twin Falls. [Image: Grant Thomas]

After Andrew and I took in the sights and sounds of both the upper and lower falls, we began our descent back to the car. We proceeded carefully and made sure not to slip on roots and rocks along the trail. We only passed two groups of hikers on our way back.

Overall, despite the weather that caused us to change our plans at the last minute, we had a fantastic morning exploring Twin Falls and the South Fork Snoqualmie River. Hopefully I will be able to get to Olallie and Talapus Lakes in the next couple of weeks once the snow has melted and the road to the trailhead is clear.

Celebrate Earth Day at the State Parks!

Earth Day 2015 leaves poster [Image: kvbb945.com/tag/earth-day-2015 ]

Image: kvbb945.com/tag/earth-day-2015

Celebrate Earth Day at state parks across the country and join thousands of people who are getting outdoors and making a difference on April 22nd! First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to learn more about environmental issues and how you can help. Here are a few ways you can participate this Earth Day:

Take a Hike!

Hikers on a trail in Wisconsin [Image: www.travelwisconsin.com]

Image: www.travelwisconsin.com

Unearth your hiking boots, thick socks, and walking stick and hit the trails on Earth Day! Cumberland State Park in Tennessee is hosting a 3-mile, Earth Day hike on the Pioneer Trail along upper Byrd Creek. See fascinating geological features, smell the wildflowers, cross a swinging bridge, and pass through the trail’s “fat man’s squeeze.” The Earth Day hike in Pomme de Terre State Park, Missouri will strike out on the Cedar Bluff Trail in the Hermitage area of the park. During the hike, park rangers will help you identify local wildlife and wildflowers. All of Washington’s state parks are free admission for Earth Day. Take advantage of this special opportunity by joining other outdoor enthusiasts on the Wildflower Walk at Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center. This 3/4-mile walk along a wetland trail is a great way to learn more about native wildflower species.

If you’d rather celebrate on the water, head to Crooked River State Park in Georgia for an Earth Day River Paddle at High Tide. Paddle your way through a maze of marsh grass before the course opens into gorgeous scenic views of the park.

Volunteer!

Volunteers help with trail maintenance [Image: news.outdoors.org/2013/07/enjoy-outdoors-learn-new-skills-give.html]

Image: news.outdoors.org/2013/07/enjoy-outdoors-learn-new-skills-give.html

After a long, hard winter, there’s so much to do at the state parks to get them ready for the summer season. How can you help? It’s easy! Just give back to your favorite outdoor space by volunteering your time on Earth Day!

Wisconsin state parks are holding a series of volunteer days with their month-long Work*Play*Earth Day events. On any of these designated days, lend a hand at the parks by helping with repairs, trailwork, gardening, and painting. Refreshments and gifts of appreciation will be provided by Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. Of course, these volunteer days are also about fun! Once you’ve completed a volunteer project, join the park staff on a hike, bike ride or by touring a nature center.

Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania also has Earth Day projects for volunteers. These projects include trail maintenance, litter pickup, leaf removal, and native plant gardening. As an added incentive, Earth Day volunteers can camp for free at the state park’s campground!

The Earth Day Hike & Volunteer Project at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Tennessee is the best of both worlds. Help park staff complete small projects before taking a leisurely hike through the park’s beautiful meadow trails.

Bring the Kids!

Participants at Earth Day Celebration at Liberty State Park, NJ [Image: photos.nj.com/jersey-journal/2012/04/hudson_county_earth_day_at_lib_6.html]

View the NYC skyline while celebrating Earth Day at Liberty State Park! [Image: photos.nj.com/jersey-journal/2012/04/hudson_county_earth_day_at_lib_6.html]

There are plenty of family-friendly Earth Day events happening at parks across the country. At Liberty State Park in New Jersey, the annual Earth Day Celebration will have free arts & crafts activities and giveaways for kids. There will be kite-flying, live music and entertainers, and also fun inflatable rides. At the celebration’s 5K Run and 5K Walk, participants will receive a free t-shirt and also have the chance to win trophies and medals. While you’re at the park, don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the picturesque view of the New York City skyline!

There will be a full day of family fun at the Earth Day Celebration at Bear Mountain State Park in New York. Student Conservation Association’s Hudson Valley Corps and Trailside Museums and Zoo have a stellar line-up of activities aimed at fostering environmental awareness. These activities will be happening at stations along the trails, rain or shine.

Let your friends, family or the whole world know about your Earth Day adventures and achievements by sharing your waypoints on any of our free Pocket Ranger® apps! With just the click of a button, easily share your marked waypoints with others through Facebook, Twitter and email. 

Say “I Do” to a Wedding at the State Parks!

Maudslay State Park [www.aestelzerphotoblog.com/do-it-yourself-forest-wedding]

Maudslay State Park [www.aestelzerphotoblog.com/do-it-yourself-forest-wedding]

Celebrate your love for the outdoors by having your wedding at a state park! We are not lying when we say there are hundreds of breathtaking wedding venues offered at state parks across the country. In addition to getting incredible views and unbeatable wilderness ambiance, holding your wedding at a state park may be the best way to keep your budget in check. Below is just a taste of the kind of unique venues you can reserve.

Oceanside Wedding

If sandy beaches and open ocean are must-haves for your wedding day, here a few venues from both coasts that we think will fit the bill.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park [Image: fildakonecphotography.com]

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park [Image: fildakonecphotography.com]

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park, Florida

Arguably Key West’s best beach, Fort Zachary Taylor is the place for couples looking for a tropical wedding. Hold your wedding on the beach at sundown for the most epic sunset photos.

Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington

Looking for lighthouses? Cape Disappointment State Park has two! If you have a small wedding party, hold your ceremony in the lantern room at the top of the park’s North Head Lighthouse. In addition to lighthouses, this park has an ocean-facing beach, which also makes for a spectacular ceremony location.

Big Sur Wedding [Image: vagabond3.com/woohoo-were-getting-hitched]

Big Sur Wedding [Image: vagabond3.com/woohoo-were-getting-hitched]

Big Sur Wedding, California

For a show-stopping scenic vista, go big with a wedding at Big Sur. Choose from one of the three Big Sur state parks (Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Andrew Molera State Park), and contact California State Parks weddings/special events coordinator at 831-525-5060 for more information.

Odiorne State Park, New Hampshire

With immense views of the Atlantic Ocean, Odiorne State Park is the perfect place for a warm-weather wedding. Hold your ceremony outdoors by the water, and then mosey across the lawn to a reception under the park’s large, sleek tent. During cocktail hour, your guests can pop into Odiorne’s Science Center to check out aquariums of lobster and native fish. There’s even a touch tank with starfish! This is a popular wedding location, so reserve early.

Woodsy Wedding

Custer State Park [Image: www.tomkphoto.com/kristi-troy-custer-state-park-wedding]

Custer State Park [Image: www.tomkphoto.com/kristi-troy-custer-state-park-wedding]

These wilderness venues have plenty of rustic chic ambiance plus great hiking trails. Don’t forget those hiking boots!

Custer State Park, North Dakota

One of the premiere destinations for wedding venues in the Black Hills, Custer State Park offers beautiful countryside and Sylvan Lake as a backdrop for your ceremony. Hold your nuptials outdoors and then bring the party indoors to the banquet hall at the park’s resort. If you’re lucky, maybe the park’s herd of wild buffalo will amble by, giving your wedding photos extra pizzazz.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Nebraska

Located just outside of Omaha, Mahoney State Park is the place for sweeping views of picturesque Platte River. With its many fireplaces and log-cabin atmosphere, board your wedding party at the Peter Kiewit Lodge or have guests stay over in the park’s lakeside cabins. Summer wedding? Cool off at the park’s Family Aquatic Center, which has pools and water slides. In the winter, the park is home to an exciting toboggan run, which may be the best way to warm up before taking the plunge into matrimony!

Maudslay State Park is perfect for woodsy- and garden-themed weddings, too! [Image: www.thewestchesterweddingplanner.com/fall-foliage-wedding]

Maudslay State Park is perfect for woodsy- and garden-themed weddings, too! [Image: www.thewestchesterweddingplanner.com/fall-foliage-wedding]

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

Waterfalls, bluffs, caves, forests, and lake: There are so many ceremony options at this park! Get married by Fall Creek Falls, a 256-foot waterfall or at the base of the 95-foot tall Piney Creek Falls. Or exchange vows at bluffs like Rocky Point Overlook, which has an exposed cliff that looks northward across the Cane Creek Gorge. Hold your reception at the Fall Creek Falls Inn, which offers panoramic views of Fall Creek Falls Lake. Staying the weekend? Tee off at the park’s 18-hole golf course! For information about planning your wedding at a state park in Tennessee, submit an Event Information Request Form or call Cassie Rapert (Group Sales Manager) at 615-920-3432.

Palmetto Island State Park, Louisiana

Palmetto Island State Park is perfect for those couples looking for a true southern Louisiana wedding. Located on the Vermillion River, the park’s beauty comes from its interior lagoons and coastal forestland that is abundant with palmettos. A great location for larger wedding parties, reserve the park’s visitor center to host your reception.

Garden Wedding

Holding your wedding at one of these state parks means you won’t need to fuss about floral arrangements. And don’t worry about elaborate décor! The historic estates found at these parks will give your wedding all romantic, vintage flair it needs.

Vaughan Woods State Park, Maine

Once the summer retreat for New England’s poets, writers, and artists, the historic Hamilton House and gardens at Vaughan Woods State Park are a fully-realized romantic vision. The estate and perennial gardens are found atop a hillock that overlooks the Salmon River. Different flowers bloom throughout the spring and summer. Vaughan Woods State Park is perfect for engagement photos, too!

Say “I do” at the picturesque Hamilton House & Gardens [Image: www.historicnewengland.org]

Say “I do” at the picturesque Hamilton House & Gardens in Maine. [Image: www.historicnewengland.org]

Ridley Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

If you’re looking for a grand entrance, look no further than Ridley Creek State Park’s magnificent Hunting Hill Mansion. Originally, a stone farmhouse built in the late 1700s, the Jeffords family modified the estate into an English Tudor-style mansion-house in 1914, adding a ballroom and grand staircase room. The grounds are just as stately as the stone façade mansion, including several formal gardens, horse stables, tennis yard and scenic overlook. We recommend getting hitched in the formal gardens and then kicking up your heels in the ballroom.

Saint Edward State Park, Washington

Once a Catholic seminary, the stately architecture and beautiful shoreline make Saint Edward State Park an immensely popular wedding venue. The Grotto is a charming garden alcove surrounded by woods, just the place for an intimate wedding ceremony. Hold your reception at the park’s Grand Dining Hall. This beautiful space has floor-to-ceiling arched windows, dance floor, and glass chandeliers, a perfect balance of elegance and function.

Eclectic Wedding

An outdoor wedding is one thing. An outdoor wedding with mermaids, that’s a whole other thing! Give your wedding that much more character by having it at one of these three parks.

Mermaids at a wedding [Image: marrymetampabay.com]

Image: marrymetampabay.com

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida

Complete your tropical wedding with a few special guests: the world famous Weeki Wachee mermaids! For more than 60 years, the mermaid show has enchanted thousands of visitors to the park. Exchange vows at the Mermaid Theater, which dips 16 feet below the surface of the park’s legendary spring. Occasionally, native wildlife, such as turtles, fish, manatees, otters, and every now and then an alligator swim alongside the mermaids in the spring!

Bannack State Park, Montana

Dreaming of a gold rush wedding? The Old West lives on at Bannack State Park, the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery in 1862. This historical landmark includes 50 well-preserved buildings that line Main Street of the ghost town. At different times of the year, the park hosts historical re-enactments. In stark relief next to Montana’s open countryside, this ghost town makes for some stunner wedding photography.

Get hitched in Bannack State Park’s ghost town [Image: somethingblue22.blogspot.com]

Get hitched in a ghost town! [Image: somethingblue22.blogspot.com]

Maudslay State Park, Massachusetts

With its plethora of gardens, Maudslay State Park is an excellent late spring and summer venue. However, Maudslay’s haunted-look in the fall is perfect for couples planning a Halloween-themed wedding. In addition to the pet cemetery and remains of the estate’s original mansion, there are rumors that the park is haunted by a few spirits. Fall foliage combined with looming pines that line the paths of the once grand estate hit just the right gothic note in September and October. Hold your ceremony outdoors in the gardens and then move the party indoors to the park’s historic barn, which boasts high ceilings, large windows and rustic charm.

Share your outdoor wedding pics with us on Instagram and Facebook!

The Middle Fork Of The Snoqualmie River

Contributed by Michael Restivo of Mike off the Map

A river runs through a misty coniferous forest

The Snoqualmie River [Image: Michael Restivo]

Fog lingers between the pines of this pristine Northwestern Forest. The Snoqualmie River snakes through the landscape with a gentle roar, slicing through towering granite walls, snowcapped mountains, and marshes of spindly trees, which hang limply on an early-winters day. The Middle Fork isn’t about the difficulty of the trail, or even the scenery, which is nonetheless spectacular. It’s about the atmosphere. It’s about displaying what is so loved about the Pacific Northwest. Not just a trail that leads to breathtaking vistas, wide-open panoramas, or endless miles of mountains, this trail is about mystery, cold setting in through the branches, and everything that is iconic about Washington hiking.

A-frame bridge over the Snoqualmie River

Image: Michael Restivo

Just over 40 minutes east of Seattle, the pockmarked road that leads to the trailhead is crowned by a long row of shedding Douglas firs, pines, and evergreens, their needles turning to shades of brown. From the parking lot, the trail immediately enters a dense old growth forest, and crosses one of the most iconic footbridges in Washington. The A-frame shaped bridge perches over the Snoqualmie River, the brown-gray water rushing towards the Alps of North Bend and Issaquah. Here, the mountains near Snoqualmie Pass, their tips blasted in white, give the sensation of being in the jagged Cascades.

Foggy view of jagged peaks in the Pacific Northwest

Image: Michael Restivo

The trail follows along the river, both its ends shrouded in a deep fog, a blue and copper-colored haze that rolls over stony barrier islands in the middle of the waterway. The trail grade is easy, only lifting slightly, weaving in and out of the pine forest, and traversing under imposing walls where thin, long, waterfalls cascade down granite steps.

A verdant rainforest in the Pacific Northwest

On the trail [Image: Michael Restivo]

Curving away from the river, the muddy path cuts deeper into the forest, where pine needles fall in showers, and a large bend in the trail rises over a vantage point above the river. While this leads to the supposed end of the road, experienced hikers know where to find hidden surprises in these deep woods. By tracking just slightly off course, a short bushwhacking jaunt through sharp branches leads to a secluded beach. On the beach, you will find the remnants of a well-worn fire pit and a pile of musty logs. Tracing a line upriver leads to one of the barrier islands, stacked with polished stones and boulders, set in the dramatic scenery between the mountains.

Hiker photographs the foggy Snoqualie River

Image: Michael Restivo

As the river steadily groans and rushes through the North Bend and Snoqualmie Valley, we’re subtly reminded of what makes Northwestern hiking unlike anywhere else. These are trails veiled in mist, under gray, evergreen-lined mountains, setting off an ambiance of mystery that you can’t feel in the high mountains. So, while the high-mountain season has seen their last trails tread for the year, the shorter trails leading through these forests, scented of pine and old wood, are what make these winter jaunts extraordinary.