Our favorite hikes
Herald writers and editors pick their favorite Puget Sound-area hikes
Photo courtesy Richard Vaughn
A vista looking out toward a prairie home on Ebey's Landing.
The Lady of the Lake ferry hauls up its gangplank and departs after leaving hikers at the Prince Creek trailhead. Photo taken 052609 Sports - Great Outdoors - Chelan Lakeshore Trail
Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times
Hikers walk from an overlook on a trail on the west side of Mount Si, near North Bend, Wash.
Laurie Matanich / The Seattle Times
Bill Brewster trains for his first marathon by running in Discovery Park in Seattle.
Jessi Loerch / The Herald
Jerry Weatherhogg hikes along Emerald Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park.
Kristi O'Harran / The Herald
A pair of campers enjoy the yurts at River Meadows Park outside of Arlington.
View Larger Map Mount Dickerman Mount Dickerman offers some of the finest scenery around for local hikers looking for a strenuous, but not epic, workout. Just 45 miles from Everett, this hike, 8.5-miles roundtrip, won't offer solitude, but it's not quite as busy as Mount Pilchuck, where you'll find yourself hiking with hundreds of your closest friends on most summer days. It's also a bit more taxing, climbing 3,900 feet in 4.25 miles to 5,723-foot summit, where 360-degree, 100-mile views abound on clear days. You'll see Baker and Shuksan to the north, Glacier to the east, Pilchuck and the Olympic Mountains to the west and, finally, to the south, just the top of Mount Rainier's dome. Numerous rocky outcroppings on the summit invite hiking parties to spread out for sack lunches instead of cramming close together on a single pinnacle or, as is the case with Pilchuck, a manmade lookout. On the way up, Dickerman presents a three-way-split personality, starting with old-growth woods reminiscent of a rain forest in the Olympic Mountains. Midway it opens up and flattens out slightly. On the final push, you shoot straight up with ever-better views of the summit and surrounding peaks. One warning: Over the years Dickerman has been deadly for winter climbers who have fallen while traveling on snow and ice. Wait until high summer, July or August, to make sure the snow is melted out for safe footing. -- Sarah Jackson, Herald Writer Vitals Open: Closed due to snow; expected to open in mid-June Directions: From I-5 follow U.S. 2 east across the trestle, take the left exit towards Lake Stevens and Highway 9 and take a left heading north. At the third stoplight go right on Highway 92 to Granite Falls. Turn left on the Mountain Loop Highway. Drive 16.6 miles and the trailhead is on the left (north) side of the highway. A large parking lot and restrooms are available. Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Online: Herald Hiking Guide, WTA, Attrition More information: Contact the Verlot Public Service Center at 360-691-7791.
View Larger Map Ebey's Landing The Washington Trail Association calls the bluff hike at Ebey's Landing one of Washington's finest coastal hikes. To me, it is the epitome of what makes the Northwest special. Of course, I'm biased: Whidbey Island is where I grew up and this is the place my parents took my sister and I on Sunday walks when we were young. We'd pack sandwiches and mugs of hot cocoa and eat our picnic on a blanket spread near the windswept bluff. We'd climb on the wind-bent evergreens above and the driftwood on the beach far below. The sandy, undulating bluff trail is located in the protected National Historic Preserve. Hikers can start their trek near a parking lot next to the beach or from the Prairie Overlook near historic Sunnyside Cemetery. The latter is my favorite place to start because it first takes hikers through picturesque farmland. That trail joins up with the bluff trail, which stretches for about a mile along the bluff and then heads straight down a steep route to the beach several hundred feet below. From the top of the bluff take in the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the islands beyond. On the beach below is a lagoon formed by a narrow spit. Wildlife, including bald eagles, is abundant. Once I came across a giant beached squid. The history of the area is rich. Ebey's Landing is named for Colonel Isaac Ebey, most famous for losing his head to some angry natives in 1857. The trail is easy enough and short enough at around 3-4 miles -- depending on the route you take -- to be manageable for nearly everyone, including sturdy children. If you go, don't forget the cocoa. -- Debra Smith, Everett Reporter Vitals Open: Year-round Directions: Take State Ferry from Mulkiteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island. Continue north on SR 525 for 19 miles to junction with SR 20. Bear right onto SR 20 continuing 6.3 miles. Turn left onto Sherman Road. Proceed for .3 mile turning right onto Cemetery Road reaching Prairie Overlook trailhead in 0.3 mile. Permit: None Online: Herald Hiking Guide, WTA More information: Contact Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve at 360-678-6084.
View Larger Map Discovery Park When friends come from out of town, one of my favorite places to hike is Discovery Park in Seattle. Located on the bluffs of Magnolia, the park sticks its nose into Puget Sound offering breathtaking views of the city, Mount Rainer and the Olympics. A well-worn trail makes a 2.5-mile loop around the park. You can make it a longer walk by taking steps that lead down to a beach and out to the lighthouse, before returning to the trail. If you take the diversion, be prepared to go way down and then hike back up. Also, know that the hike skirts around a sewage-treatment plant, but it's doesn't distract too much (really). It's a great choice for younger hikers and folks that aren't too comfortable venturing deep into the wild. There are plenty of restrooms along the way, and places to cut shortcuts. Another nice aspect is that the hike is fine year round. It's spectacular even when the weather isn't great. -- Jackson Holtz, Herald Writer Vitals Open: Year-round Directions: From I-5 south, take exit 172 to merge onto N 85th St. Turn left onto 15th Ave NW. Turn right onto W Emerson St. Turn right onto Gilman Ave W. Continue onto W Government Way. Turn left onto 34th Ave W. Take the 3rd right onto W Emerson St. Turn right onto Oregon Ave. Slight left at Washington Ave and destination will be on the left. Permit: None Online: Herald Hiking Guide, WTA More information: Contact the visitor center at 206-386-4236
View Larger Map Lake Chelan Lakeshore Trail For one of the best spring/early summer hikes in Washington, head east to Lake Chelan for a stroll along the Lakeshore Trail. The trail is a multi-day, 17.5-mile hike along the north side of Lake Chelan starting at Prince Creek and ending at Stehekin at the west terminus of the lake. You must take a ferry to get to the trailhead, so plan accordingly. From the Field's Point Landing, take the Lady of the Lake ferry up Lake Chelan 20 miles to Prince Creek. The ferry comes in landing craft style, dropping a gangplank from the nose of the boat onto the steep rocky shore. From the Prince Creek drainage, we started down the trail angling west by northwest up the lake. Be heads-up for rattlesnakes in the drainage. We took an easy first day and stopped for the night at near the Meadow Creek shelter. It was less then ideal with a ton of mosquitoes and no views of the lake. Given the choice now, I would have pushed on to Moore Point for an established camp on the lake. The next day was short and we arrived at Moore Point early afternoon. We made camp down near the lake and then took a short hike around the point. After having lunch, we took a chilly swim in the lake and chucked in some sticks for Ana, the ever-fetching dog. After a gorgeous, star-filled night, we hoofed it the remaining 6.8 miles into Stehekin where we had a snack and picked up the ferry for the long ride home. -- Jennifer Buchanan, Herald Photographer Vitals Open: Spring-Fall Directions: Travel north from Wenatchee on US 97A for 38 miles to the Lake Chelan Boat Company in Chelan, located about 1 mile west of the city center. Or drive to Field's Point Landing, located about 17 miles northwest of Chelan via State Route 971 and the South Lakeshore Road. Take the Lady of the Lake to Stehekin. Disembark at Stehekin Landing and walk 0.25 mile to the Golden West Visitor Center. The trail begins just to the right of the center (elev. 1150 ft). Permit: No permit needed, but you do have to make reservations with a ferry service to drop you at your desired spot. Online: Herald Hiking Guide, WTA More information: Contact the Golden West Vistor Center at 206 386-4495 ext.11.
View Larger Map River Meadows Park Several summers ago my brother was visiting from New York and we got this idea to go on as many Snohomish County hikes as we could during his two-week vacation. Well, we got in six. Not too shabby. One of our favorites from the list was River Meadows near Arlington that includes a 200-acre park next to the south fork of the Stillaguamish River. The park is perfect for that after-hike picnic. We did the hike in July and covered 3.7 miles of the 6-mile trail. We used the book "Hiking Snohomish County" as our guide and author Ken Wilcox did not steer us wrong when he wrote "silt and sand trails follow a long bend in the river and connect with mowed paths among grass and wildflowers." We hiked mostly along the river and in my notes in the back of the book wrote "great trails." I've gone back with my husband and young son several times. River Meadows is an easy, year-round hike that is family friendly and can introduce young ones to lots of Pacific Northwest nature including hemlock, birch, cottonwood, fir and cedar along with native shrubs and ferns. The trail also offers occasional access to sandy beaches but, as Wilcox reminds, don't forget to pop out of the woods every so often to check out the lush meadows. -- Theresa Goffredo, Herald Writer Vitals Open: Year-round Directions: From I-5 take SR530 east through Arlington; turn right onto Arlington Heights Road for 2 miles; bear right onto the Jordan Road. Follow Jordan Road for approximately 3 miles to park entrance on the right. Permit: None Online: Herald Hiking Guide More information: Contact the park at 360-435-3441.
View Larger Map The Wonderland Trail Summerland and Indian Bar are just a portion of the 17-mile Wonderland Trail. Summerland is one of the classic hikes of Mount Rainier and the whole Northwest. On the east side of Mount Rainier, it makes an enjoyable day trip. If you want to do it right, though, you need a backpack. Summerland has all the glory of the best high-mountain meadows. Its lush plants and gurgling streams are a piece of heaven. There are several campsites (you need a permit). Be sure to climb up past the meadow to look at the crazy moonscape and to look for mountain goats. To really make the most of the trip, continue over Panhandle Gap and to Indian Bar. Before you go, check trail reports, snow lingers late this high. The descent to Indian Bar is long, but the view distracts you from your sore knees. Indian Bar is an ideal camping spot. It feels delightfully remote, the valley is gorgeous and you might see bears. The climb out of Indian Bar is, again, pretty. When you reach the top, you can see all the way to Mount Adams. The trail follows the ridge for a few miles, and when it starts to descend, you'll be sad to be heading home. -- Jessi Loerch, Herald Copy Editor Vitals Open: Late summer to early fall Directions: To Summerland trailhead, from Enumclaw, take Highway 410 east 43 miles to the White River Entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. Veer right on Sunride Road, follow this 4 miles to the trailhead near Fryingpan Creek. Permit: Entrance fee of $15. Online: Herald Hiking Guide, WTA, Attrition-Indian Bar, Attrition-Summerland More information: Contact the park at 360-569-2211
View Larger Map Lake Serene Waterfalls and wildflowers, a remote lake and a towering mountain -- Lake Serene has it all. And you don't have to drive far -- just past Gold Bar -- to see it. Don't let the name fool you, though. The journey up -- elevation gain is 2,000 feet -- Mount Index is demanding. The mountain will lure you in, starting out easily enough on an old logging road through the forest. About halfway up, you'll hear the roar of Bridal Veil Falls, which is a half-mile side hike to see. Don't linger too long at the falls. The trail has saved the toughest climb, the last 1,300 feet of elevation gain, for the last 1.5 miles. Wildflowers and breath-taking views of the valley below are only part of the reward. At the top, Lake Serene, surrounded by mountain walls awaits. Hike here weekend mornings or during the week to avoid crowds. -- MIchelle Dunlop, Business Writer Vitals Open: Snow on trail until July Directions: From Everett, follow US 2 east to the hamlet of Gold Bar. Continue on US 2 for 7 more miles to just before it crosses the Skykomish River (near milepost 35), and turn right onto Mount Index Road. Proceed on this dirt road 0.4 mile, turning right on the spur road signed "Lake Serene Trail 1068." The trailhead and large parking area are 500 feet farther (elev. 600 ft.). Permit: Northwest Forest Pass Online: Herald Hiking Guide, WTA, Attrition More information: Contact the Skykomish Ranger District at 360-677-2414.
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