Talapus and Olallie Lakes

This Saturday, the weather was 65° and sunny–much too beautiful to not go out hiking. We decided on Talapus and Olallie Lakes off Exit 45 in North Bend, which is an approximately 6 mile round-trip trek featuring very well-paved trails and a modest incline. To get to the trailhead, you have to drive up a relatively windy gravel road which could get slippery in the winter–drive carefully, as there are a couple switchbacks with steep dropoffs on the outside edges. At the trailhead, there is a parking lot big enough for at least 20 cars, a restroom, and a self-serve pay station for anyone who doesn’t have a Northwest Forest Pass.

The first couple miles of the hike are fairly easy, though there are a few steeper stretches. Be careful of the many roots along the trail, and of the muddy sections (at least this time of year)–there were parts where almost my entire boot sunk through. I would highly recommend waterproof boots and/or gaiters, but they’re not strictly necessary. There are several places where you can see running water Continue reading

Skyline Divide

After much too long a stretch of busy, non-hiking weekends, I was finally able to get outside. My dad and I drove about three hours north from Kent to the (tiny!) town of Glacier, WA where we had rented an Airbnb for the weekend. It was the perfect place to stay as a base camp for Skyline Divide, as we only had to drive about 1000 feet to the start of NF-37, the gravel road leading up to the trailhead. I had been anxious that the drive up would be icy or covered in snow, as the USDA Forest Service had reclassified the road conditions as “NOT CLEARED” on 10/12. However, in terms of ice and snow conditions, the road wasn’t bad, with only the last few miles seeing any snow–and it helped that we were driving a car with FWD. I would recommend taking the drive slow, though, as there were some potholes and fallen tree branches scattered along the road (it took us about an hour from the start of NF-37 to the parking lot).  At the trailhead, there’s room for quite a few cars, as well as a picnic bench and a restroom (Note: the restroom was running low on toilet paper when we arrived, so I recommend bringing your own–just in case!).

We started off on the trail at 8:45 AM, and I was surprised at how quickly we warmed up–I began taking off the warmer outer layers Continue reading

Teneriffe (Kamikaze) Falls

I did the hike to Teneriffe Falls back in March when it was much cooler, which I appreciated because the trail is uncovered for much of the way up to the falls. At the time, the parking lot at the Teneriffe trailhead was packed so we made our way from the Si lot instead–it added on an extra 3 miles round trip, but made for a nice warm-up/cooldown. You are required to hang a Discover Pass on your dashboard at both the Mount Si and Teneriffe parking lots, so prepare for that when you plan your hike. This hike is 6 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of almost 1500 feet. While not exactly Mailbox, Teneriffe boasts its fair share of rocky terrain, especially near then end towards the falls. It also has what feels like endless switchbacks, although the views along the way make up for it. The end of the trail is clearly less maintained than the first couple of miles, so watch where you step because it can be slippery (at least, it was in March!) and gets worse as you get closer to the waterfall. Teneriffe Falls is gorgeous–it makes the list of my Top 10 Favorite Waterfall Hikes! I looked up at crystal clear water cascading down a sheer rock wall and just felt utterly small–I would 100% recommend this hike to anyone, and am looking forward to going again in the future!

 

Heybrook Lookout

This past weekend was the hottest of the year thus far, so I decided to ease into hiking in heat by tackling Heybrook Lookout. Located off US Highway 2 in Index, this hike is a very short 1.25 miles up with nearly 900 feet of elevation gain to the lookout. The first half of the trail leading to the top is the steepest, but it’s mostly shaded by tall trees and then levels off after the initial trek uphill.The trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, and there was no litter on the hike (always a pleasant surprise!). There is a viewpoint near the top, where you have your first view of the mountains–we took pictures at this point but reached the lookout tower within minutes of continuing on the trail. The last stretch consists of climbing almost 100 stairs to the top of the tower, where we were rewarded with gorgeous 180° views of Mount Baring, Mount Index and Mount Persis. I would highly recommend this hike as a beginner’s alternative to Rattlesnake Ledge, as it has a great payoff for being easy/moderate difficulty.

Panoramic View from the Lookout

 

Rattlesnake Mountain

A few weekends back, I decided to take a solo sunrise hike to the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. As I noted in a previous post about this hike, Rattlesnake is an easy 2 mile hike up to the top, so I figured I could getting to the trailhead an hour before the estimated 5:15am sunrise would give me plenty of time. I brought a picnic blanket, lunch and a book, and set off from my apartment at 3:30–since there was almost no traffic to speak of, the drive was much shorter than usual. The main parking lot was gated, so I ended up parking in the limited space next to it. It wasn’t until I reached the map at the start of the trail that I realized I had driven to the Snoqualmie Point side of Rattlesnake, about a 10.5 mile trek from where I wanted to be by sunrise. Since I couldn’t possibly make it there in time, I decided to go for the new trail instead (unlike Rattlesnake Ledge, this side of the mountain requires a Discover Pass, so make sure to hang yours before starting your hike).

I made it to the first viewpoint, Stan’s Overlook, at 2.5 miles in and caught the sunrise–it was gorgeous! The trail was relatively easy and well-maintained, even throughout the forested area. I did get to walk through several spiderwebs on the way up to Grand Prospect, which is 5 miles in and served as my stopping point for the day. I put on sunscreen, set up my blanket and started reading. I didn’t see a soul until around 8am, when a trail runner who was planning on doing the entire 21 miles to and from the Ledge passed by. It was so peaceful here, and although I obviously can’t speak for the entire length of the trail, I would highly recommend Rattlesnake Mountain for an easy day hike, 6.5/10!

 

Mailbox Peak

Since my old housemate (Logan) is moving this week, I decided to send him off in the best way I know how–with a grueling hike through the woods to a ridiculously gorgeous viewpoint. Mailbox Peak (Old Trail) is one standard by which hikers in the PNW are measured, featuring an almost 4000 foot elevation gain in a short 2.5 miles. However, Logan hadn’t been hiking in a while, so we were planning on taking New Trail instead, which is half as steep and twice as long. We left from Kent at 8am sharp and arrived at the trailhead around 9–this hike requires the Discover Pass at the parking lot–and headed up to the trail. We somehow managed to completely misinterpret the map at the bottom and ended up taking Old Trail anyway.

Old Trail is everything they say about hiking Mailbox–it is a steep, poorly maintained (although there are reflective markers on trees along the way), relentless trail with few switchbacks. Despite it being the most challenging hike I’ve done to date, I found it to be much more enjoyable than I was anticipating. It helped that the day started off cool–we walked through a few clouds on the way up–and I can’t imagine doing this particular hike in mid-summer heat.

The majority of Old Trail takes you through a seemingly never-ending wooded area. We definitely got lost a couple of times, since the “trail” is pretty unclear at times, but luckily were eventually able to locate the reflective markers every time. There were quite a few other people taking Old Trail too, so we tried to keep an eye out for hikers who knew where they were going when possible. We played leapfrog with a group of hikers all the way up–in fact, we passed each other so often that we actually learned their names! Continue reading

An Afternoon Trek to Franklin Falls

One of my friends recently got into hiking and the outdoors, so we decided to plan a short, weekday trek to Franklin Falls after work. It was a rainy day, so we came prepared with raincoats, gaiters, hats and waterproof hiking boots. The drive to the trailhead was easy once we hopped on I-90, and after taking Exit 47 there was almost no traffic at all. We parked in the Denny Creek lot, but soon realized that there was no connecting trail that would allow us to get to Franklin Falls from that trailhead. Luckily, it was a short drive to the correct lot (the Franklin Falls lot is very well painted and is a quick walk to the start of the trail), where we hung our Northwest Forest pass and started trekking. The hike is very easy, coming in at 2 miles round-trip and a total elevation gain of only a few hundred feet. With its well-maintained path and consistent river views, the hike to Franklin Falls would be a great outdoors activity with children, although they may need some assistance navigating the slippery rocks near the end of the trail. Between the  raging waterfall and the waves from the river crashing up against the rocky shore, the view at the end was spectacular. I’m sure this hike would be just as beautiful on a sunny day, but there was something particularly Pacific Northwest about the fog hugging the trees and the looming gray skies. All in all, I would rate this hike a solid 7/10 if you want an easy jaunt to a gorgeous payoff.

Panoramic Views

The Meetup Mix-Up: Coal Creek Falls

In order to fully delve into the craziness that was today, I have to start at the beginning. I downloaded an app called Meetup a while back, which brings together all sorts of people with the same hobbies and interests. I immediately joined several hiking-related groups in the Seattle region, and quickly found a hike I was interested in–an 11.4 mile round-trip trek on Wright Mountain*. The hike is described on wta.com as being “a scramble up a peak near Snow Lake,” which is something I had never done before. The requirements to RSVP included traction (microspikes, crampons, snowshoes, etc.), trekking poles, pants that allow for glissading down snowy slopes, and being in good physical shape. Meeting all but one of these, I signed up and planned on buying snow pants, which I ended up purchasing the day before the hike from a nice lady on Offer Up (Burton DryRides for $80).

Fast-forward to this morning at the Bellevue Park and Ride where I found the crew ready to go. I confirmed it was the Meetup headed to Wright Mountain and we got into our carpool groups, but by the time we arrived at the trailhead, I was certain this group was not headed to Wright Mountain. The person I had asked at the Park and Ride must not have heard me correctly–I was on the wrong trip! I didn’t want to ask my driver to turn back, and I was definitely too late to join the Wright Mountain hike anyway, so I went with it (if you were on today’s SOA Coal Creek Falls Meetup, now you know the real reason my bag was so heavy!). So, if you ever do a hiking meetup, triple check that the hike you’re joining is the correct one. Continue reading