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Recommend Seattle-area hikes?
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Will Webster
Recommend Seattle-area hikes? on 06/29/2013 09:58:16 MDT Print View

Hi, my wife and I will be vacationing in the Seattle area in 3 weeks. We want to dayhike for 3 or 4 days as part of the trip, using a motel or campsite as basecamp. Can anyone recommend a location where we would have a good selection of nearby day hikes, and any hikes that would be particularly good for someone not familiar with the area (and/or reference books)? We are in our mid-50s, frequent hikers who backpack several times a year, but since we live in PA our "mountains" top out about 1000' above their bases (although we haven't had significant problems with 3K' climbs when traveling). Looking to do around 8 - 10 miles a day. If basecamp is a campsite it shouldn't be too high; we will be starting the trip with a 4-day guided kayak outing so our sleep systems will be geared toward sea level temperatures. Thanks in advance.

Slugsworth .
mountains on 06/30/2013 23:18:27 MDT Print View

There are just a ton of options for you. I suggest looking at for trip reports of whatever area you find of interest.

I do caution you about i-90, the hikes off it get a ton of traffic in their first 5 miles or so, especially on weekends.

There are a ton of great guidebooks, as well as the national geographic maps which I like.

My first thought would be to consider using the Leavenworth area as a base camp, if proximity to the city is a priority.

Edited by slugsworth on 06/30/2013 23:19:19 MDT.

Will Webster
Mountaineer books? on 07/01/2013 06:57:41 MDT Print View

Thanks Max; great to have that local insight. It looks like we could spend a lifetime hiking in Washington, but unfortunately on this (first) trip we'll only have Friday through Monday, and that includes travel from Friday Harbor at the start (kayak trip ends Thursday afternoon) and to SEA-TAC at the end (6:00 AM flight Tuesday).

Looking at the WTA site I'm a bit overwhelmed by the embarrassment of riches you have there. WTA links to the Mountaineer books; was thinking about getting one or two of those. Any thoughts on that?

The kayak outfitter recommended the North Cascades and specifically mentioned Mt Pilchuck (would that be the south North Cascades? I'm not up on WA geography); that area is about midway between the Friday Harbor and the airport (I'd rather be hiking than driving) but I'm concerned it might be too convenient to the city on a weekend.

Which guidebook would I choose for dayhiking in the Leavenworth area?

I guess I'm hoping for some spectacular dayhiking in late July, without weekend crowds, and without too much driving. Does such a thing exist?

Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
Re: Mountaineer books? on 07/01/2013 07:56:43 MDT Print View

Will, I agree that the Leavenworth area as a base is a great option. This gives you the Icicle valley, and Enchantment areas to wander as well as many great hikes in the Lake Wenatchee and Chelan areas to explore within a relatively short driving distance. If you decide to make that area your temp home I suggest checking out the Mountaineer books 100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and 100 Hikes in the Glacier Peak Region.

If you decide to stay closer to the city and use Seattle as your base I suggest sticking with the 100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and also 50 Hikes In Mount Rainier NP and heading up in to the park.

Another Mountaineer book that covers a bit of everything is 100 Classic Hikes in Washington.


Will Webster
Leavenworth on 07/01/2013 16:08:39 MDT Print View

Kris, thanks for the book suggestions. I took a look at Leavenworth online - that Bavarian thing isn't exactly your typical trail town. And they sure seem proud of their motels. Anyway, some good info to start with.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Recommend Seattle-area hikes? on 07/01/2013 17:08:10 MDT Print View

When will you be here Will? If you have time, travel up to Granite Falls, WA and day hike Goat Lake, Monte Cristo (mining ghost town), and the Ice Caves. All are in low enough elevation that the trails should be clear of snow. All of them togehter can be done in a day if you drive to all three trailheads (all within 10 miles of each other).

If the snow is gone (not yet), drive up to Chinook Pass and hike southbound to Dewey Lake. You can incorporate the Tipsoo loop into this hike. This is higher in elevation but if you are here in late August the temperatures shouldn't drop below 40*.

As mentioned, Leavenworth is a dayhikers/backpacker's paradise. Besides the charming Bavarian town, there are white water rafting trips, fishing guides, etc.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 07/01/2013 17:22:01 MDT.

Will Webster
Granite Falls on 07/01/2013 19:29:42 MDT Print View

Hi Ian, we will be there at the end of July - Friday the 26th through Monday the 29th. It looks like Granite Falls is very convenient for us since we'll be leaving Friday Harbor on the morning of the 26th, and have to get to the airport the night of the 29th. I looked up Goat Lake on WTA and it sounds great. How crowded do you think it would be on a weekend at the end of July?

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Granite Falls on 07/01/2013 19:57:36 MDT Print View

The only time I was there was in October (off season) and the rain was coming down in buckets. It's a pretty easy day hike there and back. We took the high route up and the low route back for a change of scenery. There are campsites near the lake but I don't believe stealth camping is prohibited. Even if you couldn't find a camping site up there, there are a number of opportunities for dispersed/stealth camping along the road en route to the trail head.

We weren't able to visit Monte Cristo due to the water level being so high that it was running over the log bridge. My understanding is that is a pretty short hike. Rumor has it that local water near Monte Cristo is still contaminated with arsenic so bring enough water for your there and back.

Ice caves is a super short but enjoyable hike. The caves and the cliffs behind them are gorgeous.

I may have exaggerated earlier by suggesting that you could do it all in one day (which you could) but definitely in two very relaxed days.

Slugsworth .
Leavenworth area on 07/04/2013 15:00:15 MDT Print View

I can guarantee you won't be disappointed with Lake Stuart or Colchuck lake. There are very close camp grounds and they are both super close to the town of Leavenworth if you chose to hotel it. You also won't go wrong with the Snow Lakes Trail- I believe that it is a ~13mile day hike.

I would also highly recommend heading on the PCT south starting at Stevens Pass (free parking across HWY 2 if you need it). Once you clear the ski area you start to come across a ton of really nice lakes as well. All of these hikes will really blow you away coming from PA.

I would seriously just get the Nat'l geographic map and use the WTA trail descriptions, the detailed descriptions aren't too necessary.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
Olympics? on 07/04/2013 15:06:39 MDT Print View

If you haven't considered it you might think about staying in Port Angeles and hiking in the Olympics. One thing to consider is that temps on east side of Cascades are often much higher than on western side.

For example, average July high for Leavenworth is 87, for Seattle it's 78, for Port Angeles it's high 60's. The heat on eastern Cascades isn't bad because it's more like dry desert weather, but if you'd like respite from some PA summer heat Olympics might be a good choice. (No guarantees, of course, they get heat waves over there, too.)

Plus you get the beautiful ferry ride across Puget Sound. Lots of good trails close to Port Angeles.

Edited by hes on 07/04/2013 15:08:35 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Leavenworth area on 07/04/2013 15:37:10 MDT Print View

What's better, South on PCT from Steven's Pass or North from Cle Elum River, like Marmot Lake or Tuck and Robin Lakes? I think the latter might be more crowded? I'm thinking a weekend in August.

Or maybe South along Deception Creek?

Will Webster
Re: Leavenworth area on 07/06/2013 16:43:52 MDT Print View

Thanks Max. Those look like some tough but rewarding hikes. Regarding going south on the PCT from Stevens Pass: I was actually considering going north from there to Lake Valhalla. We probably won't be able to do both (N & S); if you had to pick which would you recommend?

Will Webster
Re: Olympics? on 07/06/2013 16:59:27 MDT Print View

Thanks Herbert. Dry heat will be a big improvement over what we're experiencing now. We will be spending 4 days kayaking in the San Juans before we start hiking, so we may be ready to warm up a bit! On the other hand some cooler weather would definitely be welcome. It's nice to have so many choices, but it's also a bit overwhelming. I assume that cooler weather further west correlates with more chance of rain?

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Winthrop on 07/06/2013 17:22:35 MDT Print View

I suggest you stay in Winthrop. There are some great day hikes both to the West towards North Cascades NP, and East in the Pasayten Wilderness. It is a farther from Seattle then Leavenworth, but I like it better. Still, you can't go wrong staying in Leavenworth if it is better logistically.