2-3 nights in the PNW in March
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Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
2-3 nights in the PNW in March on 03/08/2013 19:45:44 MST Print View

Hi all! I'm currently attending university in Bellingham, WA, and I have no plans for our spring break (last week of March). I'm thinking of taking a few days and hiking somewhere, since I haven't had much chance to do that so far. I need some recommendations :)

I'm looking for a trail I can do (15-20 miles) in late March without encountering too much snow/ice (or at least nothing that'll need special gear to traverse). I'm thinking somewhere in the cascades. The west Olympic beaches are a bit too far.

I have a 32 degree bag, but can probably rent a warmer one if needed. TT Rainbow and a cuben :D Bear Paw Cub Den 1.5 are my shelters, and a heavy old Eureka 2P tent :p I've been snow camping before, but I'm from Michigan. I'm not too familiar with mountains yet, especially in the shoulder season.

Thanks! :D

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 2-3 nights in the PNW in March on 03/08/2013 21:03:20 MST Print View

Hittin' the books in B'ham, eh? My daughter is a student there and my wife was too.

Check wta.org and nwhikers.net. WTA has all the major trails listed and most have current trail reports. nwhikers.net has the best trip reports out there.

I send you there as trailhead access and snow levels are tricky at this time of year, and can change in a heartbeat. My avatar is at Heather Lake on the north side of Mt. Pilchuck in February 2010. The lack of snow was a fluke and there was 2'-3' feet of snow in that spot a few weeks later.

You have Mt. Baker close at hand and there are lots of hikes off the Mountain Loop Highway. Check out the Baker Lake East Bank trail: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/baker-lake. The Monte Cristo trail is an old road and if the weather is good and thr trails are clear, you can hike above the old ghost town. If not, there is a campground near the town site. http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report.2011-09-06.7574393167

They have been working on the Suiattle River Road which takes you from the town of Darrington close to the foot of Glacier Peak. It is evidently still closed at MP 11.5, but if you have a mountain bike, you could do a hybrid hike and ride the road and hike from there, or just walk the road. The road was closed due to washouts and then politics, so there hasn't been regular road traffic for years.

If you can get to the Coast, it is great. Take ALL your rain gear and a shelter that can handle wind. You will need a bear can--- really a raccoon can there :)

The Mountaineers have several books with collections of winter hikes in Western Washington. Check the library on those.

Edited by dwambaugh on 03/08/2013 21:06:36 MST.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
Late March on 03/10/2013 09:30:59 MDT Print View

Dale is spot on on this one. I'll just add a couple of things.

If you want a little more room to wander without postholing around, try to swing a trip to the olympic coast. It does get a little pricey with the ferry.

Suiattle River road is a great option for a night or two, and has some great use-to-be-car campgrounds, but I would say is limited as far as scenery and leg-stretching.

The Chelan Lakeshore Trail is great in March, but again, the ferry ride ($45?) is kinda pricey. Excellent views and plenty of side trips out of Stehekin, although the bakery won't open til June!

East Bank of Baker Lake might be just the ticket. Very close (<2hrs from bham), good campgrounds, a view or two if the weather cooperates.

Thunder Creek off of hwy20 from Colonial Creek Campground is a nice wandering in March, and will ensure some solitude (and probably a hint of snow).

If you want real snow camping and the avalanche forecast is stellar, consider Herman Saddle near the Mt. Baker ski area. Short hike, great views, and it isn't Artist Point.

For quick overnights near Bham we go up to Lizard Lake or Pine Lake in the Chuckanuts. Certainly not "out there", but if it is windy you can't even hear I5! (haha)

Hopefully this gets the wheels turning. It's hard to get the hiker blood going when you can feel spring coming on but everything is still buried.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
+2 on 03/10/2013 09:36:49 MDT Print View

I lived in Tacoma for 5 years and I must agree- you can't plan this far out this time of year for anything in the mountains if you want to be sure of avoiding snow and ice. You have to check forums closer to the go-date for trail conditions.

If you want some certainty then even though you ruled it out the Olympic peninsula at low elevations is the way to go. (I'd retire to Sequim if my wife would let me.)

Edited by acrosome on 03/10/2013 09:37:20 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 2-3 nights in the PNW in March on 03/10/2013 18:52:23 MDT Print View

Here is a blog on access to the Dosiwallips area and a perfect example of what spring road and trail conditions can be like-- and what "local knowledge" can do to save your trip plans:

Walks with Moss, "Dosewallips is a mess!"
http://mosswalks.blogspot.com/2013/02/dosewallips-is-mess.html

Herbert Sitz
(hes)

Locale: Pacific NW
Check at nwhikers.net on 03/10/2013 20:07:15 MDT Print View

If you haven't already you might want to check for suggestions at the forum at nwhikers.net message board. It's a western Washington-centric board and people should have some ideas for you. Also perhaps check 'Trip Reports' section for reports on recent trips. Wta.org is another good resource, where you can check recent trip reports. [EDIT: whoops, see that Dale already recommended those sites, didn't notice in my first scan of the thread. . .]

Edited by hes on 03/10/2013 20:19:52 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Check at nwhikers.net on 03/10/2013 20:59:15 MDT Print View

Great minds think alike :)

Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
great advice on 03/19/2013 14:44:59 MDT Print View

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for the advice. I've been busy writing my thesis, hence the long absence. I'll certainly check trail reports and websites mentioned for conditions as the date approaches. Given all the recommendations though, I'm temped to head for the Olympic beaches. It's a bit of a drive, but I think it might be worth it. What would you say to a TT Rainbow there in this season? I've seen them take some tough winds.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: great advice on 03/19/2013 16:55:45 MDT Print View

Starting March 23 the weather looks pretty good.

Olympic beach is very rainy but not too windy. Windier up in the mountains. I know nothing about TT Rainbow but I'm sure it would be fine.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: great advice on 03/19/2013 17:28:26 MDT Print View

Some of the beach campsites are nestled in the trees, which helps a lot. You will need a bear can-- if the Port Angeles ranger station is open and they are still loaning cans, that is a real money saver. The ravens and raccoons will steal you blind too.

Watch the weather reports before you head out there! It is the *definition* of wet and windy.

We have a storm coming in Wednesday with 2+ feet of snow expected in the Cascades and light snow and hail down to 500'. That should move the clear trails back a ways.

Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
later in the week on 03/21/2013 02:07:49 MDT Print View

Good to know! I think that my trip will be more around the 27-29 (sometime in there). I have wanted to get to the coast, and I think the lower elevations will probably let me use my own sleeping bag. I'll have to check the forecast closer to the departure date though.

Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
north beach on 03/24/2013 23:57:04 MDT Print View

SO! I've decided (since part of the south coast trail is closed) to hike the north coast trail from near Shi-Shi beach to Rialto. The only problem is, I need a ride to the trailhead after I park! I've been trying to find a shuttle service but it's tricky. Does anyone have any suggestions of where/how I might find a way to hike the beach without backtracking the whole thing? Thanks!!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: north beach on 03/25/2013 00:04:16 MDT Print View

Get a cheap bike at Goodwill, ride it to the trailhead and hide it? I backtracked. You're facing the other way, so it's a whole new hike ;)

Tommy Franzen
(Tomlike) - F

Locale: Pacific Wonderland
Olympic NP shuttle on 03/25/2013 09:50:21 MDT Print View

For a shuttle try contacting All Points Charters & Tours

Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
shuttle on 03/25/2013 12:19:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for the link Tommy! I called them, but it's $160 for the shuttle which is too much going solo. I posted on craigslist to find a ride, but if that doesn't work Willie (shuttle owner) suggested just hiking out-and-back around Ozette, which I think I'll do if it comes to it.

Any BPL members want to drive me between Ozette and Rialto for $40 this thursday? :)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: shuttle on 03/25/2013 13:13:23 MDT Print View

I've done out and back from Ozette many times - excellent hike

Like Dale said, you see one thing walking one way and something else walking the other way

I sort of don't like shuttle trips because then you're committed - out and back you can adjust the length of your hike as you feel, if the route is blocked for some reason you can just turn around at that point

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
One way hikes on 03/25/2013 14:03:16 MDT Print View

I tried a "trade car keys" for an end-to-end hiking trip one year but ended out having to abort my hike and leave the way I came due to my dog's getting sick. (Turned out not to be serious, but I wasn't about to risk him 3-4 days' hike from a veterinarian in case he did get worse.) Unfortunately, the other folks finished a lot sooner than they had planned and got past me without my seeing them. When I got back to the trailhead, their car was gone while mine was about 50 road miles away. I had no luck bumming a ride to town, either. Fortunately, some nice folks offered to call the local shuttle service for me when they got back into cell phone range. It cost me $160 to get reunited with my car.

Since then, it has been either in-and-out or loop trips for me, none of this one-way stuff. I agree, the landscape looks quite different when seen from the other direction!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ozette Loop on 03/25/2013 17:14:39 MDT Print View

I've done the Ozette Loop, but it's only 10 miles or so. You hike out to Cape Alava, south to Sand Point and back the Ozette trailhead parking lot. The way to make it more interesting is to camp at Sand Point the second day and just do a loop day hike to the south back. It' a good trip for exploring rock reefs and tide pools and lots of bird watching.

http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/ozette-loop.htm#CP_JUMP_150237

If you have a good set of aluminum poles and a less good set, take the latter. The salt can pit them. At least rinse them off in fresh water once in a while. Carbon fiber is better for this. It's not a tough hike, so you barely need them, unless your shelter does.

Look around in the driftwood piles on the high side of the beach-- that's where you find glass floats and other interesting flotsam.

Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
thanks the beach was great! on 04/02/2013 19:33:42 MDT Print View

Hello again! Thanks for all the suggestions. I ended up doing the Ozette loop with day hikes at each site. It was quite fun! I went south first, then heading north, and back on Saturday. Unfortunately Friday (the day I walked the beach) was foggy, so no vistas, but still saw some cool things. The other days were really nice though (much nicer than the midwest springs I'm used to, if wetter)! I had never seen big boulder-like island like that, covered in trees. Lots of eagles calling and flying over, and interesting flotsam on the beaches. Exploring the tide pools was interesting as well. Heard lots of seals at Alava beach, too, though I couldn't spot them from the shore. Plenty of people out enjoying the nice weather, too.

If I find some time I'll try to provide a full trip report sometime. Though, with spring quarter starting that might take a while =/

Oh! And there was a while carcass on the beach just south of Alava. It stank something fierce, but was still interesting.