Pacific Northwest | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:01:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Pacific Northwest | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Thanksgiving Hikes: 6 Family-Friendly Trails Near Seattle https://moon.com/2017/11/thanksgiving-hikes-family-friendly-trails-near-seattle/ https://moon.com/2017/11/thanksgiving-hikes-family-friendly-trails-near-seattle/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 23:28:11 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61526 A Thanksgiving hike is a wonderful way to reflect and spend time with loved ones. Whether taking your pup for a breath of fresh air, enjoying the waterfront with the whole family, showing out-of-town guests Seattle's emerald forests, or conquering a peak with your uber-athletic sibling, Seattle has plenty to offer close to home.

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A Thanksgiving hike is a wonderful way to reflect and spend time with loved ones. Whether taking your pup for a breath of fresh air, enjoying the waterfront with the whole family, showing out-of-town guests Seattle’s emerald forests, or conquering a peak with your uber-athletic sibling, Seattle has plenty to offer close to home. Layer up, check the weather, and choose your own adventure. Now go outside and enjoy the crisp November air—I’ll see you on the trail!

Here are six family-friendly hikes within 40 miles of Seattle.

pedestrian bridge leading to Carkeek Park Beach

Need a beach break? Take a walk over the pedestrian bridge in Carkeek Park to get a bit of fresh salt air. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Carkeek Park

3.5 miles roundtrip, 800 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Located in northwest Seattle, Carkeek Park is a woodsy escape into a lush canyon, with breezy beachside views of Puget Sound and the Olympics from the western edge of the park. Get your heart pumping with a lollipop loop along Carkeek’s forested perimeter trails, or make a beeline to the beach via Piper’s Creek Trail. Visit historic Piper’s Orchard to learn about and wander among Andrew W. Piper’s apple trees.

brightly colored leaves littering the pavement on the Cedar River Trail

Cyclists and families with strollers will love the smooth Cedar River Trail. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Cedar River Trail

17.4 miles one way, 820 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

The Cedar River Trail, stretching from the southern end of Lake Washington to Landsburg Park, is a mostly paved, bicycle- and stroller-friendly hike to views of the Cedar River, spawning salmon, King County parks, and trestle bridges. Riverview Park, located 2.8 miles southeast of Lake Washington, makes a lovely turn-around point.

Fall on the Lincoln Park waterfront trail with a distant view of the Olympics

Take a waterfront hike in Lincoln Park to stare out at the Olympics. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Lincoln Park

1.85 miles roundtrip, 160 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Lincoln Park, located near the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle, is a refreshing hike to views of Puget Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympics. The wind-whipped waterfront is lined with a wide, ADA accessible trail, a rocky beach, and plentiful benches, while a playground and towering Douglas fir inhabit the interior trails. If you can nab a spot, the tiny south parking lot provides easy sidewalk access to the waterfront.

Little Si offers expansive views and a great way to work off the Thanksgiving feast. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Little Si

4.7 miles roundtrip, 1300 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map (PDF)

Little Si, located 35 miles east of Seattle in North Bend, is a great option for a Thanksgiving workout to panoramic views of Mount Washington, Cedar Butte, and Rattlesnake Mountain. A side trip on the Boulder Garden Loop offers a quiet detour as well as access to the Old Si Trail for a steeper, more challenging option. Consider an early start: the Little Si parking lot is popular and can fill quickly, especially on sunny days.

stairs on a path in Meadowdale Beach Park in Washington State

Head to Meadowdale Beach Park for a quiet, secluded wonderland escape. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Meadowdale Beach Park

2.5 miles roundtrip, 425 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Meadowdale Beach Park, located in Edmonds, is a tranquil trail of soft gravel surrounded by beautiful red alder, bigleaf maple, and western redcedar. Benches line the trail, and the sound of Lunds Gulch Creek makes it feel like you’re in a quiet, green, secluded wonderland. On the western edge of the picnic area, a seasonal aluminum walkway—removed each fall for spawning salmon—leads under the train tracks to Meadowdale Beach. Bring a book for the Little Library, and keep your eyes peeled for chum salmon in late November.

wooden bridge crossing a creek at O.O. Denny Park

Find some peace and quiet in the hidden gem of O.O. Denny Park. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

O.O. Denny Park

2.5 mile loop, 420 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

O.O. Denny Park located on the northeastern shore of Lake Washington in Kirkland, is a hidden gem. The large, green picnic area hosts a shallow, pebbly beach, picnic tables, and a playground. Across Holmes Point Drive, a short but sweet trail system winds along Denny Creek, past a 600-year-old tree trunk named Sylvia, and across three finely-crafted wooden bridges.


Work up an appetite, walk off that stuffing, or make a quick escape to solitude with these 6 Thanksgiving hikes in the Seattle area.

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Take a 10-Day Oregon Coast Road Trip https://moon.com/2017/07/10-day-oregon-coast-road-trip/ https://moon.com/2017/07/10-day-oregon-coast-road-trip/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 19:00:54 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=13614 For many travelers, following the coastal highway U.S. 101 along the rugged Oregon coast is the trip of a lifetime. Twisting roads, slow-moving traffic, and jaw-dropping vistas are sure to slow you down, so start out by planning flexibility into your schedule.

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For many travelers, following the coastal highway U.S. 101 along the rugged Oregon coast is the trip of a lifetime. Although the coast route counts just 360 miles, don’t try to rush this trip or squeeze it into anything less than three days. Twisting roads, slow-moving traffic, and jaw-dropping vistas are sure to slow you down, so start out by planning flexibility into your schedule.

If you’re not lucky enough to have time for a trip spanning the entire coast and need to sample just a section of the coast, it’s easy to use the I-5 freeway corridor (roughly 60-80 miles inland) as a quick north or south arterial, cutting over to the coast near your destination.

So feel free to tinker with this strict north-south itinerary. If you are flying in and out of Portland, it may make sense to leapfrog your way down the coast, catching the intervening towns on your way back north.

large rocks jutting out of the ocean on the Oregon coast

The rugged Oregon coast has a number of jaw-dropping sights. Pictured here is Seal Rock. Photo © Matt Alberts/iStock.

Day 1

From Portland, drive 95 miles northwest to Astoria, a city full of history and spunky do-it-yourself charm. Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum to learn about the area’s maritime past (and present), and check out the city’s many art galleries. Walk the hilly streets behind downtown to view resplendent Victorian homes. Spend the night at the Cannery Pier Hotel beneath the more than four-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge, which spans the mighty Columbia.

Day 2

Drive south about eight miles to Fort Clatsop National Memorial, which features a replica of the winter home Lewis and Clark used in 1805 and 1806. If the day is fair, drive another seven miles to Fort Stevens State Park to stroll along the shore and watch the Columbia River roll into the Pacific, or simply continue 22 miles to Cannon Beach, with its dramatic shoreline dominated by sea stacks. Stroll through the town’s attractive and mazelike downtown shopping district, and spend the night at the Stephanie Inn.

Day 3

From Cannon Beach, drive about 10 miles south to drop through the lush temperate rainforest in Oswald West State Park, stopping for a hike to the beach or a stunning view of the ocean from 700-foot-high cliffs on the flanks of Neahkahnie Mountain. Stop for lunch in the commercial fishing village of Garibaldi, 21 miles to the south, with some of the freshest and tastiest fish-and-chips you’re likely to eat. In Tillamook (10 miles), it’s almost mandatory for visitors to stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, both for the cheese (now made off-site) and the tasty ice cream cones. Continue another 44 miles south to Lincoln City via U.S. 101, staying at the Starfish Manor Hotel.

Day 4

From Lincoln City continue 12 miles south to Depoe Bay, worth a stop to admire the pocket harbor and scan for spouting whales, then take the Otter Crest scenic loop, cresting at the Cape Foulweather vista. It’s only another 12 miles to Newport, so you’ll get there before lunch—which is lucky, because you’ll want to have two meals’ worth of eating to explore the good food here. Spend the afternoon at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the night at the Elizabeth Street Inn.

The view from atop Cape Perpetua. Photo © W.C. McRae.

The view from atop Cape Perpetua. Photo © W.C. McRae.

Day 5

This is a short day of driving, because you’ll want to save time to hike. Proceed south to Yachats, one of the coast’s most charming towns and gateway to Cape Perpetua, a wonderful natural area where mountains meet the sea and acres of tidepools rise above the surf. Check in at the very comfortable Overleaf Lodge, and reward yourself for hiking along Cape Perpetua with dinner at one of Yachats’s excellent restaurants.

Day 6

Florence is set alongside the Siuslaw River 25 miles south of Yachats, and its riverside Old Town will briefly steal your attention away from the ocean. It’s a good base for exploring the Oregon Dunes, which start just south of town and rise up to 500 feet tall. Hike through this striking habitat, or go for the thrills of sandboarding or a dune buggy ride. Spend the night in Florence.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Day 7

Although Coos Bay doesn’t beckon the average traveler, this city 50 miles south of Florence is the gateway to some astoundingly beautiful headlands and beaches just west. Don’t miss blustery Cape Arago and the gardens of Shore Acres State Park. Head south about 25 miles along Seven Devils Road and spend the night in Bandon. With its Old Town, beaches, and golfing at the internationally acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, this town demands attention. Bandon is laid-back and easy to explore on foot, with more good restaurants than you’d expect.

Day 8

It’s tempting to shrug off Gold Beach’s jet-boat tours up the mighty Rogue River as hokey tourist schlock, but these rides are actually pretty great, with good commentary and the chance to see bald eagles and other wildlife. It’s 55 miles from Bandon to Gold Beach; be sure to get there in time to meet your boat.

Day 9

Between Gold Beach and Brookings (28 miles), the coastline is at its finest, with many pullouts offering paths down to secluded rocky beaches. Come prepared with a sweatshirt and a windbreaker and spend an afternoon exploring this stretch. In Brookings, it’s important to stop for a walk and some bird-watching at Harris Beach State Park, but it’s also worthwhile to get off the coastal strip and explore the Chetco River. Alfred A. Loeb State Park has good river access and a path through myrtle and redwood trees.

Day 10

If you’re heading back to the I-5 corridor after your tour of the coast, consider dropping down to Crescent City in California, and heading inland on U.S. 199. This highway, which you pick up 22 miles south of the state border, passes through the northern edge of the California redwoods on its way to I-5 at Grants Pass, Oregon (83 miles).


Travel Maps of the Oregon Coast

Color map of the north coast of Oregon

North Coast of Oregon

Color map of the central coast of Oregon

Central Coast of Oregon

Color map of the South Coast of Oregon

South Coast of Oregon



Plan your Oregon coast road trip along U.S. 101 with this flexible 10-day itinerary, featuring the area's most iconic coastal sights.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Coastal Oregon.

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San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip https://moon.com/2017/07/san-francisco-to-seattle-road-trip/ https://moon.com/2017/07/san-francisco-to-seattle-road-trip/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:51:04 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58287 Most people view the Golden Gate Bridge as the magnificent entrance to the beautiful and storied city of San Francisco, but after my road trip driving north out of San Francisco, I now see it the other way around. That iconic red bridge is not only your gateway to the magnificent northern California coast and the emerald-meets-indigo shores of the Pacific Northwest, but it’s also the perfect start to a San Francisco to Seattle road trip.

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Most people view the Golden Gate Bridge as the magnificent entrance to the beautiful and storied city of San Francisco, but after my road trip driving north out of San Francisco, I now see it the other way around. That iconic red bridge is not only your gateway to the magnificent northern California coast and the emerald-meets-indigo shores of the Pacific Northwest, but it’s also the perfect start to a San Francisco to Seattle road trip.

There are faster ways to do this road trip. You can take Interstate 80 east out of San Francisco to Interstate 5, making the 850 (1400 km) mile drive north to Seattle in about 12 hours—a ho hum day or two, if you’re in a hurry—and if you stay on Highway 101 north of Golden Gate, it’s only four hours cutting through agricultural country to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. But if you believe life is more about the journey and less about getting from point A to point B, keep the Pacific Ocean on your left and give yourself five days to a week to soak up beautiful scenery, picturesque towns, and giant trees.

View of the coastline at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California.

Point Reyes National Seashore has miles of hiking trails. Photo © mtilghma/iStock.

Driving north across the Golden Gate, you’ll enter Point Reyes National Seashore after about an hour; nature lovers will marvel at the hundred square miles of unspoiled grasslands, forests, estuaries, and beaches. Another hour finds you driving along the 17-mile stretch of Sonoma Coast State Park, where every turn of the cliffside highway offers another majestic vista, showing off rocky headlands framing sandy coves below.

You’ll be tempted to think it doesn’t get any better, but the next 120 miles of remote and rugged California coast will prove you’ve only scratched the surface! Crossing from Sonoma into Mendocino county, you can spend an entire day simply stopping at viewpoints to marvel at the intense Pacific hues and endless craggy bluffs. Eventually, you’ll reach Mendocino, an artsy village presiding over a pristine bay, where every shop and gallery along Main Street boasts a million-dollar view.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway near Mendocino.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway near Mendocino. Photo © duha127/iStock.

Fifty miles ahead, Highway 1 rejoins Highway 101 and heads back inland, for your first taste of redwood forest. Parallel to the highway, the famous 30 mile stretch called the Avenue of the Giants cruises past centuries-old groves populated by trees taller than the Statue of Liberty. 

Next, Highway 101 returns to the coast, where the twin towns of Eureka and Arcata provide a last stop on the road to one of California’s greatest natural treasures, the Redwood National and State Parks—two million acres of old growth forest providing some of the best hiking and camping opportunities on the planet.

You may take Highway 199 out of the Redwoods to link to Interstate 5, the expressway to Portland and Seattle. But then you’d miss the entire Oregon coast, where winds have spent thousands of years carving rocky sea stacks that rise like monoliths out of flat sand beaches. The craggy, woodsy coast of Southern Oregon is interrupted only by forty miles of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where shifting sands form dunes as high as 500 feet over the ocean!

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Charming small towns populate Oregon’s coast, every one of them offering warm bowls of delicious local clam chowder, whether its small resort towns like Bandon and Cannon Beach, or more cosmopolitan destinations like Newport and Astoria.

From Astoria, you may easily shoot east to reach one-of-a-kind Portland, a truly creative city that wears its weirdness like a badge of honor. But for a more adventurous journey, continue north to reach Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Rising out of the state’s southern shores, the Olympic Peninsula is home to the awe-inspiring Olympic National Park, where temperate rainforests dotted by sparkling lakes and bisected by salmon-rich rivers climb slopes up into a breathtaking snowcapped mountain range.

The entire park is surrounded by coastline where Native American communities continue to fish the oceans as they have for generations, and where driftwood pieces the size of entire trees pile up on remote beaches that are often accessible only by enervating fresh air hikes.

The Pier in Port Townsend. Photo © Jeff Ferguson/123rf.

The Pier at Port Townsend. Photo © Jeff Ferguson/123rf.

As Highway 101 curls around the northeastern corner of the Olympic Peninsula, consider a side-trip to the elegant Victorian mariner town of Port Townsend, which is surrounded by water and boasts mountain views both to the east and west. From there you may descend in short order to Bainbridge Island, where a short ferry ride takes you across the Puget Sound—the gateway to America’s gleaming northwest metropolis, Seattle: home to a thriving cosmopolitan culture, and all the delicious oysters you can eat! 

 


San Francisco to Seattle Travel Maps

Travel map of San Francisco

San Francisco

Maps - Northern California 7e - San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area

Travel map of California's north coast.

California’s North Coast

Color map of the South Coast of Oregon

South Coast of Oregon

Color map of the central coast of Oregon

Central Coast of Oregon

Color map of the north coast of Oregon

North Coast of Oregon

Travel map of the Olympic Peninsula and the Coast of Washington

Olympic Peninsula

Travel map of Seattle, Washington

Seattle

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Q&A with Moon Seattle Author Allison Williams https://moon.com/2017/07/qa-with-moon-seattle-author-allison-williams/ https://moon.com/2017/07/qa-with-moon-seattle-author-allison-williams/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 22:58:24 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57654 Moon asked Allison Williams, author of Moon Seattle, to tell us all about her favorite city. Here's what she had to say.

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cover Moon Seattle 1e
Moon asked Allison Williams, author of Moon Seattle, to tell us all about her favorite city. Here’s what she had to say.

What is the biggest misconception people have about Seattle?

People think it rains all the time! But the city gets tons of sunny days, and it’s fun to explore even when it’s drizzling. Also, we’re not all tech nerds and outdoor fanatics—though we have plenty of both!

What is the first place you take visitors?

I love showing off our waterfront, either on a ferry ride in Elliott Bay or on Lake Union, where the funky Museum of History and Industry is a perfect place to watch float planes take off.

ferry boat on puget sound

See beautiful views of the Seattle area from a ferry ride on Elliott Bay. Photo © Michael Quirk/iStock.

What are the best local bites?

There’s amazing pho—a Vietnamese noodle soup—all around the city, and lots of great seafood joints like Rock Creek and Walrus and the Carpenter.

Where is the best place to take a selfie?

It takes some careful camerawork, but a selfie in the glasswork plants of Chihuly Garden and Glass can also include the Space Needle.

Where can you find the best view?

Head to the top of Smith Tower for amazing views and historic artifacts.

Which event is at the top of your list every year?

Bumbershoot is a music festival that also celebrates visual art and comedy, and it all takes place around Seattle Center.

How would you spend a normal day off?

I hike! Whether it’s a short walk through the old military homes of Discovery Park right in Seattle or a trip to the Cascades, I love being among the trees and with views of mountains.

If Seattle were an animal what would it be?

Probably a harbor seal, like the ones at Seattle Aquarium or spotted along Puget Sound. We love the water, but we’re always happy to bask on a rock when it’s sunny.

seal sitting on a buoy in Puget Sound with Seattle skyline in the background

A harbor seal basks in the sun on Puget Sound. Photo © Tummy_Rubb_Studio/iStock.

What is the best way to get around?

The Light Rail system is growing and becoming a better way to get around the city, and our bus system covers the entire area. But downtown, it’s always great to walk.

What is the best thing to pack for a trip?

A rain jacket naturally, but also comfortable shoes and casual clothes. Seattle style is relaxed and it holds up to the elements.

What do locals wish visitors knew?

Locals know that Pike Place Market is crowded, but there really is great produce for sale. Also, we know that parts of movies like Sleepless in Seattle and Twilight were filmed here, but we’re most excited by Twin Peaks.

What is the most useful word or phrase to know?

A Seattle Dog at our outdoor hot dog stands comes with cream cheese. “The mountain is out” means that the sky is clear enough to see Mount Rainier. And it’s common to hear someone say “It’s not really raining, just drizzling” to describe the weather.


Want to experience the Emerald City for yourself? Start with this 3-4 day itinerary.

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The 10 Best Places to Camp on Oregon’s Coast https://moon.com/2017/06/the-10-best-places-to-camp-on-oregons-coast/ https://moon.com/2017/06/the-10-best-places-to-camp-on-oregons-coast/#comments Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:45:44 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=13615 From north to south, here are 10 great coastal camping spots for all interests—whether you're looking for something easily accessible or beautifully secluded.

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From north to south, here are the top Oregon coastal camping spots for all interests—whether you’re looking for something easily accessible or beautifully secluded.

Best Camping on Oregon’s North Coast

Tents set in a grassy clearing with late afternoon sun hitting nearby trees.

Camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. Photo © Judy Jewell.

  • Fort Stevens State Park: Bike trails, a shipwreck, an old military fort, and a long beach where the Columbia River crashes into the Pacific make this a family-friendly campground. It’s big, too, with over 500 sites, including yurts and cabins, so it’s usually easy to find accommodations.
  • Nehalem Bay State Park: This campground has beach access to the Pacific on one side and sandy Nehalem Bay on the other; bike and hiking trails make it easy to get around.
  • Cape Lookout State Park: At the base of a secluded sand spit, with easy access to hiking on Cape Lookout–one of the coast’s top hiking trails–this campground has popular yurts and cabins.

Best Camping on Oregon’s Central Coast

Two dogs at the crest of a sand dune in Oregon's Honeyman State Park.

The dunes at Honeyman State Park. Photo © ktkochan/Flickr, CC-BY.

  • South Beach State Park: Just south of Newport, this large campground has easy access to the beach. It’s a great base camp for a guided paddle trip up the nearby Beaver Creek estuary.
  • Carl G. Washburne State Park: On the central coast between Florence and Yachats, camp on the inland side of the highway in a thicket of huge salal bushes. Pile your gear into a wheelbarrow (provided) and trundle it to one of the great walk-in campsites, then hike along the Hobbit Trail. There are also plenty of standard spots for car and RV camping.
  • Honeyman State Park: A few miles south of Florence, this large campground is a playground for sandboarders and dune riders. Two miles of sand dunes separate the park from the ocean. The two freshwater lakes within the park’s boundaries are popular places to boat and swim.

Best Camping on Oregon’s South Coast

The lighthouse near Cape Blanco. Photo © Judy Jewell.

The lighthouse near Cape Blanco. Photo © Judy Jewell.

  • Sunset Bay State Park: Not only is this bay-fronting campground lovely, it’s home to the Oregon coast’s only real swimming beach and adjacent to several of the southern Oregon coast’s top sights: Shore Acres State Park, Cape Arago, and South Slough National Estuarian Research Reserve.
  • Cape Blanco State Park: A beautiful and often blustery campground at the state’s westernmost point, just north of Port Orford and Humbug Mountain. Campground trails lead down to the beach and to the nearby lighthouse.
  • Harris Beach State Park: Just north of Brookings, this magical campground sits in a grove of spruce and firs, and just off the beach are menhir-like sea stacks busy with seabirds.
  • Alfred A. Loeb State Park: On the north bank of the Chetco River, find aromatic old-growth myrtlewood and the nation’s northernmost naturally occurring redwood trees at Loeb State Park. The 1.2-mile nature trail winds through the redwoods, passing one tree with a 33-foot girth. When the south coast is foggy and cold on summer mornings, it’s often warm and dry here.

Travel Maps of Coastal Oregon

Topographical Map of Coastal Oregon

Coastal Oregon Topographical Map

Color map of the north coast of Oregon

North Coast of Oregon

Color map of the central coast of Oregon

Central Coast of Oregon

Color map of the South Coast of Oregon

South Coast of Oregon



Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Coastal Oregon .

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Day Trips from Seattle By Car https://moon.com/2017/06/day-trips-from-seattle-by-car/ https://moon.com/2017/06/day-trips-from-seattle-by-car/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 22:33:34 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57539 Mountains, ocean, rivers, cities, deserts—everything is just a few hours away in the Pacific Northwest. But don’t try to tackle it all in one trip; each of these day trips from Seattle has scenic splendor and tons to discover.

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Mountains, ocean, rivers, cities, deserts—everything is just a few hours away in the Pacific Northwest. But don’t try to tackle it all in one trip; each of these day trips from Seattle has scenic splendor and tons to discover.

The Olympic Peninsula

Even taking the ferry west from Seattle is breathtaking on a clear day, with the Olympic Mountains towering over the state’s greenest corner. As you drive, you’ll stick to the edges of the rectangular peninsula—those peaks crowd the middle—so be prepared to drive several hours to make it to the coastal side.

A two-lane road is featured in the foreground, with green mossy trees on all sides and over the road

You will encounter many scenic views driving through the Olympic Peninsula. Photo welcomia/123rf

Stops to Consider

  • Port Townsend, a historic Victorian seaport, has the region’s best dining and gallery shopping, and the state park at Fort Worden is crammed with hundred-year-old bunkers and other military installations to explore.
  • Farther west, the peninsula offers grand old national park lodges at Lake Crescent and Lake Quinault, lavender fields in Sequim, soaking tubs at Sol Duc Hot Springs, and the crashing waves of the Pacific on the coast.
  • Twilight fans will enjoy a stop in the tiny town of Forks, which still celebrates its literary fame.

The San Juan Islands

Located northwest of Seattle in the middle of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands are a cluster of tiny to mid-sized retreats, accessible only by ferry or airplane. Make reservations in advance to guarantee passage for automobiles, or take a scenic floatplane that lands in one of the island bays or coves.

A lighthouse stands on a grassy hill with a sandy path leading up to it and a blue sky with clouds in the background

San Juan Lighthouse. Photo: ScottMeis/Flickr

Stops to Consider

  • The biggest of the islands, San Juan, is home to the charming town of Friday Harbor and a number of whale-watching companies. Drive across the island to take in the rolling hills of rural island life, complete with farm stands and small, casual resorts.
  • Mount Constitution towers over Orcas Island, also home to a brewery and a network of trails.
  • Lopez, one of the flatter islands, is popular for cyclists—especially because bikes are easy to take on the ferry.

The Cascades

Driving east from Seattle, you’ll see that the Cascade Mountains form a wall as long as the state. A number of highways wind their way through passes, the two most traveled being Interstate 90 and Highway 2. The latter takes longer but is a little more scenic, inching through tiny mountain towns and by churning rivers.

Stops to Consider

  • Located among the eastern peaks, Leavenworth is a small slice of Bavaria in a Washington town—by town ordinance, buildings must have German-looking exteriors. The Oktoberfest celebrations are, appropriately, epic.
  • Farther northeast, the town of Chelan sits on the south end of a lake with the same name, a 50-mile body of water that stretches from the peaks of the North Cascade National Park to dry, sunny Central Washington.

Rainier and Mount St. Helens

The state’s two most famous mountains sit a few hours apart, both with iconic shapes. Rainier, the tallest, is closer to Seattle, ringed with lush wildflower meadows and a playground for extreme mountaineers. Its biggest visitor center at Paradise has exhibits and an eatery, and the historic Paradise Inn next door is a classic example of National Park style.

Further south, Mount St. Helens has a lopped-off top from where it erupted in 1980. Today the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center is perched at the perfect vantage point to see in the massive crater, and trails snake around the reshaped volcano.

View overlooking Mount Saint Helens, with trees in the foreground followed by a river and the mountain range. Photo by William Perry

Gorgeous views of Mount St. Helens. Photo: William Perry/123rf

The Columbia River Gorge

Washington state’s biggest river winds from one corner of the state to the other, partially forming the border with Oregon. It’s that section of the river, a few hours south of Seattle, that makes for an ideal road trip, driving up one side and down the other.

Each small town has its own character, with the most services in The Dalles and the most fun eateries, breweries, and riverside parks in Hood River. Keep driving east to reach the dramatic views of Maryhill, where a stately old home holds an art museum and a reproduction of Stonehenge sits on a bluff.

Vista of the Columbia River Gorge and its river.

One of the many stunning vistas at the Columbia River Gorge. Photo: Sarah McDevitt/Flickr

Vancouver

The Canadian border runs just two hours north of Seattle, so it’s easy enough to take an overnight to Canada’s west coast city. With its tall, glassy skyscrapers and overwhelming dining options, Vancouver is a solidly international city that pulls from around the globe. The museums and art performances are top-notch, and there’s even a ski resort on the north side of the city. Leave time to wander Stanley Park or to walk the cobbled streets of Gastown.

At dawn, waterfront buildings are illuminated, forming an impressive skyline with mountains and clouds lurking in the background

Stunning Vancouver Skyline. Photo: Lijuan Guo/123rf

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Family-Friendly Hiking Near Seattle https://moon.com/2017/05/family-friendly-hiking-near-seattle/ https://moon.com/2017/05/family-friendly-hiking-near-seattle/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 23:19:46 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57222 Can’t decide where to go hiking with the family this weekend? Try these five unique kid-friendly hikes near Seattle.

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Can’t decide where to go hiking with the family this weekend? Try these five unique kid-friendly hikes near Seattle.

Padilla Bay Shore Trail

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Puget Sound

Hike along an embankment with windswept views of Padilla Bay, San Juan Islands, and Cascades.

The Padilla Bay Shore Trail may seem like a simple walk along the water, but it has much more to offer. The wide, mostly flat trail includes lovely views of Padilla Bay, but what makes this hike a treat are the wildlife-watching opportunities and habitat variety—from farmland to sloughs and mudflats. The trail crosses the top of a dike, and the slightly perched view means that you can spy great blue herons, the peaks of the Cascades, and the San Juan Islands in the distance, and enjoy the ever-changing shoreline as it ebbs and flows with the tide.

The exposed trail can get quite windy; plan to bring sun and wind protection, especially on clear days. While the trail is a great year-round destination, it’s particularly scenic on a clear winter day when you can walk along the water with views of distant snowcapped mountains.

Hiking trail at Padilla Bay

Hike along an embankment with windswept views of Padilla Bay, San Juan Islands, and Cascades. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Foster and Marsh Islands

Washington Park Arboretum, Puget Sound

This urban hike includes floating walkways and views of Union Bay, the Montlake Bridge, and the Cascades.

This trail through Foster and Marsh Islands can be hiked year-round, but a visit in spring and summer means the flowers are blooming, the birds are plentiful, and there’s less chance of the trails being muddy and mucky from wet weather. While you will hear some traffic noise from the 520 bridge, it will not ruin the nature experience. Bring binoculars for up-close views of birds and waterfowl, and pick up a free trail brochure from the visitors center to help identify plants and sights along the walk.

Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Puget Sound

This family-friendly hike along the Nisqually Delta has plentiful wildlife and water views.

On the southern edge of the Puget Sound sits the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area of freshwater marshes, saltmarshes, grasslands, woodlands, and forest that supports the habitats of more than 300 species of wildlife. Check the tides before you come: Visiting during high tide gives you a walk-on-water feel on the boardwalk trail, while a visit during low tide provides views of the expansive mudflats where birds and waterfowl forage for food.

Stop by the visitors center (9am-4pm Wed.-Sun.) to learn more about the history of the Nisqually Delta and to check out a pair of binoculars before heading out, enabling up-close views of wildlife. Plan to arrive early on sunny weekends, as this is a popular place for photographers, naturalists, and families.

boardwalk trail at Nisqually Estuary

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area of freshwater marshes, saltmarshes, grasslands, woodlands, and forest that supports the habitats of more than 300 species of wildlife. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Denny Creek Trail to Melakwa Lake

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, I-90

Less than an hour’s drive east of Seattle, the Denny Creek Trail to Melakwa Lake is a scenic, family-friendly romp with the option to visit waterfalls.

This popular trail is a Seattle family favorite for picnicking and frolicking at the natural waterslide. Plan to arrive early (the small parking lot can fill quickly), and visit in summer when water levels for Denny Creek are safe to cross, or come in early fall for a cool outing among fall foliage. Bring bug spray to ward off the persistent mosquitoes in early summer.

Franklin Falls

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, I-90

A gentle hike through a partially canopied forest along the South Fork Snoqualmie River leads to a gorgeous waterfall.

Franklin Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Snoqualmie Pass area. This gentle, shady trail along the South Fork Snoqualmie River ends at beautiful, 70-foot Franklin Falls. The short distance, mild elevation gain, and spectacular falls make this a great option for families and beginner hikers. Visit in late spring when the trail has shed its winter coat and the falls are raging, or in early fall when the water flow has quieted and you can get close to the falls without getting doused in a misty shower.

The trail is very popular. Avoid holiday weekends and visit midweek or early in the day on weekends to get a head start on the foot traffic. It’s possible to easily extend your day with a visit to Annette Lake or the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail; both start from the same trailhead, less than a 4-mile drive from the Franklin Falls Trailhead.

Franklin Falls in the mist

Misty view at Franklin Falls. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.


Excerpted From the First Edition of Moon 75 Great Hikes Seattle.

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Hop on the Ferry for Four Great Day Hikes Near Seattle https://moon.com/2017/05/hop-on-the-ferry-four-great-day-hikes-near-seattle/ https://moon.com/2017/05/hop-on-the-ferry-four-great-day-hikes-near-seattle/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 19:47:57 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=56799 Soak in the views of the mountains, nearby islands, passing ferries, and the Seattle cityscape as you cross the water to these great day hikes near Seattle.

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Hopping on a ferry and coasting through the Salish Sea is a quintessential Seattle experience. Along with the wind in your hair, fresh air in your lungs, and soothing water views, ferries offer the chance to explore intimate island communities and take a break after a day of hiking and sightseeing.

Much like our roadways, ferries see heavy traffic—especially during holiday weekends and peak season (May 1–Sept. 30). Before you head out, review the sailing schedule and real-time traffic cameras on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s ferry page. According to WSDOT, the busiest sailings are Thursday and Friday evening westbound ferries and Sunday afternoon eastbound ferries.

Soak in the wind-whipped views of the Cascades, Olympics, nearby islands, passing ferries, and the Seattle cityscape. Consider timing your ferry ride to coincide with sunrise or sunset for a luminous bookend to your day. Budget extra time to explore quirky landmarks, community haunts, and local craftwork at your destination.

Here are four hikes near Seattle that make great day trips:

view of Puget Sound framed by trees

Scenic view from the trail at Baker Preserve. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Baker Preserve

3.3 miles round-trip, 1,060 feet elevation gain, Lummi Island Heritage Trust

Baker Preserve, located on Lummi Island, is a shady hike along lush green moss, dancing sword ferns, and pockets of musical streams and birds. Although it starts steep, the dirt trail gentles after 0.5 mile, leading to a serene overlook of Rosario Strait, the Olympics, and San Juan Islands. Make it a day trip with a breezy picnic at the Congregational Church Beach or lunch with Mount Baker views at the family-friendly Beach Store Café (hours vary seasonally). The ferry for Lummi Island is operated by Whatcom County.

Ferry: Gooseberry Point-Lummi Island / Crossing time: 8 minutes

forested hiking trail in Bloedel Reserve

Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Bloedel Reserve

2.0 mile round-trip, 100 feet elevation gain, Bloedel Reserve, Tues.-Sun. 10am-4pm

The Bloedel Reserve, located on Bainbridge Island, is a tranquil loop trail on the former estate of Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Head south on a soft bark trail, weaving through a “living museum” of bird marshes, reflecting ponds, a Japanese garden, and moss-draped forest. An admission fee applies; pick up a brochure on the Bainbridge ferry for a discount. Make it a day trip with a waterfront stroll in downtown Winslow, a picnic lunch at Waterfront Park, and an ice cream from Mora Iced Creamery.

Ferry: Seattle–Bainbridge Island / Crossing time: 35 minutes

large red farmhouse with a pond

Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Greenbank Farm

4.4 miles of trails, less than 300 feet elevation gain, Greenbank Farm

Greenbank Farm, located on Whidbey Island, is a sprawling family-friendly farm featuring grassy trails, great blue herons, and on-site artisan shops. Hike northwest to the ridgeline for panoramic views of Saratoga Passage and the Cascades to the east and the Olympics to the west. Then create your own zig-zag loop through the maze of trails in the large meadow. Stop in for a sandwich, espresso, or homemade pie at Whidbey Pies and Café (hours vary seasonally).

Ferry: Mukilteo-Clinton / Crossing time: 20 minutes

hiking trail through thick forest

The trail at Shinglemill Creek. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Shinglemill Creek-Fern Cove

3.2 miles roundtrip, 400 feet elevation gain, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust

Shinglemill Creek-Fern Cove, located on Vashon Island, is a beautiful trail that steeply descends into a rainforest-like ravine, crosses Cedarhurst Road, and emerges at the Fern Cove estuary. Enjoy hopscotching along the tidelands at low tide, spotting bald eagles, and watching ferries shuttle to and from the Kitsap Peninsula. Take care crossing Cedarhurst Road (there is no pedestrian crosswalk) and watch for sizeable potholes near the trailhead. Make it a day trip with a visit to The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, the pint-sized Lavender Hill Farm (open seasonally) and Point Robinson Lighthouse.

Ferry: Fauntleroy-West Seattle / Crossing time: 20 minutes


For more trails and day hikes near Seattle, order a copy of Moon 75 Great Hikes Seattle!

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Best of Seattle Itinerary: 3 to 4 Days in the City https://moon.com/2017/05/best-of-seattle-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2017/05/best-of-seattle-itinerary/#respond Thu, 11 May 2017 20:57:55 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=55549 Experience all the best of Seattle with this 3 to 4 day travel itinerary, focused on exploring the arts, food, science, and outdoors.

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Seattle is an international city with arts, food, science, and outdoors the explore. With 3 to 4 days in the city, it’s easy to experience the best of Seattle: you focus first on the city’s core, and then venture out onto the water or to one of the city’s parks. Stay in a hotel in the downtown core, like Hotel Max, for the easiest travel around the city.

This itinerary assumes you won’t need a car for the first three days and includes information on using public transportation to get around.

Seattle waterfront at sundown

Head to the Seattle waterfront to get on the water. Photo © Albert Pego.

Day 1: Downtown and Queen Anne

Start the day like any other day—at Starbucks. The location in Pike Place Market isn’t quite as “original” as the T-shirts and mugs would have you believe, but it’s an interesting reminder that the chain used to be just another local coffee stand. Java in hand, explore Pike Place Market and its long rows of craft and food stands. Watch fish fly at Pike Place Fish Market, and venture past the Gum Wall.

Walk south along 1st Avenue to the Hammering Man at Seattle Art Museum, and venture inside to view one of the West Coast’s best art collections. From there it’s only a few blocks down University Street to the waterfront—just aim for the Seattle Great Wheel. Take a boat ride on Argosy Cruises—it would be a shame to leave Seattle without getting on the water at least once.

Once you’re back on dry land, walk to Westlake Center. From here take the Seattle Center Monorail to Seattle Center. You’re probably starving, so make a stop just west of the monorail terminal at the Seattle Center Armory, which hosts small outlets of some of the city’s best cheap eateries. Seattle Center alone contains enough entertainment for a week, so pick your poison: science at the Pacific Science Center or rock and roll and pop culture at the Museum of Pop Culture.

Topping either one will take something big—like, say, the Space Needle. Travel to the top to the observation deck and leave time to take in the full 360-degree view. The heights-averse will enjoy the on-the-ground delights of the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

For dinner, head to Belltown. From the Seattle Center, take the Route 4 bus from 5th Ave. N and Broad St. to 3rd Ave. and Vine St. Hit up one of the city’s memorable restaurants: El Gaucho is known for steak, while Six Seven earns acclaim for both seafood and its waterfront location.

If you still have energy, return downtown to see the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall or a rock band at the Showbox. To get downtown from Belltown, hop on a southbound Route 1, 2, 3, or 4 bus from the intersection of 3rd Ave. and Vine St. Exit at 3rd Ave. and Union St.

aerial view of the Ballard Locks

The Ballard neighborhood has great food and drink options, not to mention scenic views. Photo © seastock.

Day 2: South Lake Union and Ballard

Start the day with tres leches French toast at Cactus in South Lake Union. Walk to Yale Avenue for some quick shopping at REI or follow Terry Avenue north to Lake Union Park and the Museum of History and Industry to learn the story of Seattle and its high-flying, computer-inventing ways. Look for the seaplanes taking off and landing on Lake Union just outside.

It’s time to head north into Ballard to try some of the neighborhood’s best cuisine. Have lunch at Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen or go for the pasta at Volterra. To get to Ballard from Lake Union Park, pick up a northbound Route 40 bus from Westlake Ave. N and Mercer St. Disembark at NW Leary Way and 15th Ave. NW.

Next, walk west on Northwest Market Street to reach the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. It’s fun to watch the gates open and the locks fill as boats move in and out, and there’s also a fish ladder with underground viewing windows. When you’re ready for dinner, retrace your steps to Ballard Avenue and wait in line for the city’s best oyster bar at the superb The Walrus and the Carpenter.

Bars in Ballard are among the city’s best, so take a tipple at Noble Fir or King’s Hardware, and drink as the anglers once did on these very streets.

Head back downtown to finish the night with music at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley. To return downtown from Ballard, take a southbound D Line bus from 15th Ave. NW and NW Leary Way to 3rd Ave. and Virginia St.

flowering tree framing steps in Seattles Volunteer Park

Volunteer Park manages to pack a museum, a conservatory, historic buildings, ponds, a playground, lawns, and a stage into a small urban space. Photo © Tim Tribble/Dreamstime.

Day 3: Capitol Hill and West Seattle

If something exciting is happening in Seattle, it’ll either start or end in Capitol Hill. Begin the day at one of the neighborhood’s many indulgent breakfast spots, like The Wandering Goose, where the biscuits are so good they’ve inspired a children’s storybook.

Then it’s time to visit Volunteer Park, one of the city’s prettiest green spaces. Climb to the top of the brick water tower for a workout with a view, or gaze at the Space Needle through the middle of the circular Black Sun sculpture. Venture inside the Seattle Asian Art Museum, guarded by twin camel statues, or enter an urban botanical jungle inside the glassy walls of the conservatory. Kids will be drawn to the playground, but Lake View Cemetery next door attracts fans of the late Bruce Lee, buried here.

Capitol Hill is bursting with restaurants, so the options for lunch are endless. Try the upgraded diner fare at Skillet Diner, or wander down the hill to the options at Melrose Market, a collection of eateries selling everything from oysters to burgers.

After all that culture and fine dining, it’s time to hit the beach. Make your way to West Seattle via water taxi to the sands of Alki Beach, the spot where the city’s founders first arrived. To get to the water taxi pier, take a westbound Route 106 or 550 bus to Pioneer Square Station, then walk to the waterfront. Once in West Seattle, hop on a westbound Route 37 or 775 bus to Alki Ave. SW and 61st Ave. SW.

Today there’s a miniature Statue of Liberty, volleyball courts, and a long stretch of waterfront for strolling. Before hopping the water taxi back to Seattle, grab a snack or a beer at Marination Ma Kai.

Finish the night back in Capitol Hill—dancing at Q and drinks at the bustling Quinn’s Pub will have you up late. To return to Capitol Hill from the water taxi pier, take an eastbound Route 12 bus from the intersection of Marion St. and 1st Ave. Disembark at E Madison St. and Broadway.

cherry blossom trees and green lawn at the University of Washington

In spring the University of Washington campus is awash in cherry blossoms. Photo © july7th.

Day 4: University and International Districts

When the cherry trees are in bloom, the campus of the University of Washington becomes a grove of brilliant blossoms bursting in pink and white. The rest of the time there are plenty of classic quads, plus repositories for the best in science and culture: the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and the Henry Art Gallery. Shop at one of the many bookstores near campus, like the comfy Third Place Books.

Save pennies by eating as the college students do, popping into a bustling lunch spot on the street known as simply “the Ave.” Leftovers are practically a guarantee at Thai Tom, while Mexican Agua Verde Cafe is best enjoyed after renting kayaks from the paddle club next door. Pop into The Blue Moon Tavern to see where some of Seattle’s literary rock stars once hung out.

Next, head to the International District to burn off all that food with several rounds at the Seattle Pinball Museum, where admission includes unlimited play. Sports fans should take a tour at CenturyLink Field or Safeco Field. Once you’ve worked up an appetite again, go for a casual meal at Canton Wonton House or take your time at Red Lantern.

After dinner, wander the aisles at Asian market Uwajimaya, a kind of international crossroads in the middle of Seattle.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Seattle.

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7 Great Vista Hikes Near Seattle https://moon.com/2017/05/7-great-vista-hikes-near-seattle/ https://moon.com/2017/05/7-great-vista-hikes-near-seattle/#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 17:22:01 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=56815 Vistas leave us breathless and reverent, feeling serene as we perch above a rippling coastline or stand eye-level with mountaintops. Here are seven hiking trails to spectacular vistas in the Seattle area from local Melissa Ozbek.

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Vistas leave us breathless and reverent, feeling serene as we perch above a rippling coastline or stand eye-level with mountaintops. In Washington, we have our pick of mesmerizing views, though it’s arguably the Olympics and Cascades that make our vistas special.

Washington’s fickle weather can make vista-hunting tricky. Weather and aviation websites, such as The National Weather Service and Air Sports Net, offer a way to identify the best times for views. For example, if I see the cloud base forecast for the airport closest to my hike is above 12,000 feet from 8:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m., I know I’ll have a decent chance at a Mount Rainier view. I adjust my hike time to get to the vista within that window.

Here are my favorite hikes near Seattle for spectacular vistas:

Buckhorn Mountain (Southwest Peak)

13 miles roundtrip, 4,400 feet elevation gain, Hood Canal Ranger District-Quilcene

Located northeast of Marmot Pass, Buckhorn Mountain is a test of endurance and mental fortitude after an already blustery hike to Marmot Pass. The views, however, are worth it: a skyline of Olympic peaks stretch along the horizon, with the five major volcanoes in Washington State visible on a clear day. Proceed carefully on the short scramble to the peak.

hiker taking in the scenic view from Buckhorn Mountain

From atop Buckhorn Mountain, five major volcanoes in Washington State are visible on a clear day. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Mileage and elevation gain vary; see the resort’s hiking trail map for more information.

Located on the northeastern side of Mount Rainier off Highway 410, Crystal Mountain Resort is a fantastic place to soak in mountain and wildflower views. Take a summertime gondola ride (dogs allowed) to the summit, where you can walk the ridge line, hike back down, or have a picnic lunch.

Ebey’s Landing

5.2 miles roundtrip, 300 feet elevation gain, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

Southwest of Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Ebey’s Landing boasts a sprawling vista of Admiralty Inlet, a breezy, walkable stretch of beach, and views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and the Olympics from the trail. Less than three miles away, the town of Coupeville is a worthwhile side trip for a bite to eat or window shopping

Iron Peak

7.3 miles roundtrip, 2700 feet elevation gain, Cle Elum Ranger District

About 30 miles north of Cle Elum is a rewarding hike on a cobbled trail to a sharp-edged panorama of slate-gray Mount Stuart and the Stuart Range. Pick up Iron Peak Trail 1399 from Forest Road 9737, heading east. Reach a saddle after 3.0 miles, then turn right (south) to follow an unsigned boot path to the summit.

the peak of Mount Stuart on a sunny day

Hike up Iron Peak for a panoramic view of Mount Stuart and the Stuart Range. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Lila Lake

10.5 miles roundtrip, 3,000 feet elevation gain, Cle Elum Ranger District

Commonly accessed via the Rachel Lake Trailhead, Lila Lake is an exquisite alpine lake surrounded by meadows and tucked among peaks of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Visit in fall to bypass the summer crowds and enjoy the dusky red, orange, and yellow vegetation encircling the lake.

Silver Forest Trail

2.0 miles roundtrip, 250 feet elevation gain, Mount Rainier National Park-White River Ranger Station

In the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park is a short, family-friendly hike near the Sunrise Visitor Center to show-stopping views of Mount Rainier and Emmons Glacier. Pick up a trail map and check out informative exhibits at Sunrise Visitor Center.

view of snowy mountain from Silver Forest Trail

Hike the Silver Forest Trail for a family-friendly trek. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Summit Lake Peak

6.2 miles roundtrip, 1500 feet elevation gain, Snoqualmie Ranger District-Enumclaw

North of Mount Rainier is a rewarding two-for-one adventure, combining a visit to cool, sparkling, Summit Lake with a dead-on view of Mount Rainier from Summit Lake Peak. If you’ve already explored Summit Lake, head to nearby Bearhead Mountain for a slightly steeper but comparably gratifying hike.

Head outdoors in the Pacific Northwest with these 7 beautiful vista hikes near Seattle.

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