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Explore NW
February 7  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Hike to Sares Head is short but filled with natural rewards
Hiking with kids is always a gamble. Will they actually hike? Will they have fun? Will they throw their entire body into a mud puddle? Will they refuse to move one step farther three minutes from the end of the trail?I recently took a hike with my daughter, my friend Suzanne and her three kids. The children ranged in age from 20 months to 10 years.

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January 31  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Bob Heirman park offers fishing, birdwatching on Snohomish River Just a few minutes off Highway 9, tucked away near the Snohomish River, is a county park that is easy to miss. Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas' Eddy is on a winding country road that, at first, seems to go nowhere.

The park, in a peaceful bend of the river about 3½ miles south of Snohomish, offers 3 miles of trails, birdwatching, fishing, a wide beach and a quiet spot to enjoy nature. For families, the trails are fun to explore with kids. Ultimately, the...

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January 29  |  
Treasure hunt: The Great Northwest Glass Quest is Feb. 12 to 21. The hunt takes place throughout Stanwood and Camano Island. Searchers look for plastic balls, using a treasure map. The balls can be exchanged for hand-blown glass balls by world-renowned local artists Mark and Marcus Ellinger. The plastic replicas are hidden each morning throughout the 10-day quest. For details or to download the map go to

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January 29  |  
Outdoor learning: See what spring courses the Everett branch of The Mountaineers has to offer at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Drewel East Administration building on the Snohomish County campus, 300 Rockefeller Ave., room F107. Learn about classes in alpine scrambling, first aid, hiking, navigation and sea kayaking;

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January 24  |  
Fly fishing show coming to Lynnwood

The Fly Fishing Show is at the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, on Feb. 13 and 14.

There will be a range of fly fishing events all weekend including casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying and book signings. Tackle and gear, targeted specifically for Washington, Oregon and British Columbia anglers, will be available for sale. The event also includes the Fly Fishing Film Festival.

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January 24  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Follow Mountain Loop Highway for winter fun in snow Over the years, I've visited the Mountain Loop Highway countless times. I've hiked and run the trails. I've jumped in the lakes and eaten a bounty of huckleberries. I've skied under the moon and had picnics with my 5-year-old daughter Hazel.

Yet for all the times I've been out there, there's so much I've missed.

For instance, until recently I'd never taken Hazel sledding at the snow-play area at Deer Creek.

So, we headed out there recently with a...

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January 19  |  By Jessi Loerch
Jennifer Karami, a journalism student at the University of Washington, created this video about hunting for wild mushrooms. The footage comes from various points along the Mountain Loop Highway. If you've spent any time out there, the scenery will look very familiar.

Give it a look. It's pretty amazing the diversity of mushrooms you can find, if you just know where to look.

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January 17  |  
Photos: Billy Hoppe, a Washington state park ranger, will show his wildlife photographs at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Camano Multipurpose Center, 141 N East Camano Drive. The presentation will include images from Camano Island and beyond. Hoppe is a winner of many awards for wildlife photography. He will offer tips for shooting photos while respecting wildlife. For details, call 360-387-2236, go to or email...

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January 15  |  By Jessi Loerch
State parks won’t require a Discover Pass for parking Sunday and Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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January 12  |  By Jessi Loerch
Our area features some pretty amazing climbing. 

But don't just think big walls. Think massive boulders.

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January 10  |  
Learn about pigeon guillemot research

Learn about pigeon guillemot and recent research at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Whidbey Audubon Society's regular meeting at Unitarian-Universalist Church, 20103 State Route 525, Freeland.

Govinda Rosling is the speaker. She will talk about the Pigeon Guillemot Research Survey, a program of Whidbey Audubon under the direction of the Pigeon Guillemot Research Group.

The survey began in 2002. During each...

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January 3  |  Herald staff
Take a ranger-guided snowshoe walk, learn cool stuff Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has released the schedule of snowshoe walks and winter ecology excursions. No experience is necessary for the snowshoe trips, and if you don't have them, the Forest Service provides snowshoes and poles.

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December 31  |  Herald staff
State park free days

No Discover Pass required to park your vehicle in state parks.

Jan. 1: State Parks' First Day HikesJan. 17-18: Martin Luther King Jr. DayMarch 19: State Parks' 103rd birthdayMarch 26: Saturday spring dayApril 22: Earth DayMay 8: Sunday spring dayJune 4: National Trails DayJune 11: National Get Outdoors Day

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December 29  |  
Pilchuck Audubon Society's Chrismas Count could use a few more volunteers to spend some time watching and recording what they see at their feeders or backyards on Jan. 2. To volunteer or for more information on the CBC, email

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December 27  |  Herald staff
Begin as you mean to go on.If you mean to go on a lot of hikes in 2016, perhaps you’d like to begin with a hike. You can of course enjoy a trip on your own, or you can join in on a guided event Washington State Parks.On New Year’s Day, First Day Hikes are planned at more than two dozen state parks around the state. Also that day, you won’t need a Discover Pass to park.

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December 27  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
I-90 area offers excellent hiking options in winter "It's dark. I'm kinda embarrassed to admit I didn't realize it would still be dark."

I was standing at the trailhead in the dark. I was meeting a friend for an early morning hike, the only thing we had time for in the rush of the holidays.

It was just before the solstice and, it turns out, still really dark at 7 a.m.

No matter, though, that's what headlamps are for.

We'd picked Margaret's Way to try for the first time. It's a...

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December 20  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Share your river photos for online map For the past six months, Snohomish County native Kristina Rose has been meticulously updating the government's geospatial data on special rivers around the nation.

It's a job that fascinates her, but on the surface, sounds a bit boring. The data is mostly used by government agencies.

"For the most part, the public doesn't care about geospatial data, because they're not using it," she said.

But people do care about rivers. And they do love...

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December 20  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
12 clutter-free gifts to help any outdoor enthusiast learn and explore Happy winter! It's the season of snow and cocoa and gift giving.

I'd like to offer a little help on the gift-giving front. If you have an outdoors enthusiast in your life, they likely enjoy experiences more than they enjoy things. (And the things they do enjoy? Like hiking gear? They probably have what they need if they're really into it.)

Here are 12 gifts that will help your outdoor fanatic learn and explore, but won't take up space better used for storing...

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December 17  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Winter hiking is more work, but the payoff is worth it Editor's note: The road to Lake Dorothy is currently inaccessible to most vehicles due to storm damage. I wrote this story before the storms hit. I'm sharing it now because, even though Dorothy isn't hikeable, many other winter trails are. And you should really go outside and enjoy the beauty of winter.

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December 8  |  
Where to see bald eagles up close right now The Skagit River and the surrounding watershed — or more specifically the salmon that thrive there — attract one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Each winter, the eagles arrive to feast on salmon.

A number of activities in December and January give you a chance to see the eagles and learn more about them.

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December 6  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Discover beautiful fish of the Salish Sea with colorful compilation Name a fish that lives in the Salish Sea. Salmon, of course. And some rockfish? And aren't there some sharks, too?

In fact, there are 253 species that have been observed in the Salish Sea, a region that includes the Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands. A new report documents all 253 fish, along with fabulous illustrations of some...

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November 27  |  Herald staff
Permits are now available to cut your own Christmas tree on Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest land.

For the first time this year, kids in the fourth grade can get a free permit. The free permits are part of the Every Kid in a Park program, an effort to encourage kids and families to visit public lands.

To get a free permit, kids need to print a paper voucher from the Every Kid in a Park website,

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November 25  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Edmonds endurance hiker went off trail to train for record-setting hike When Heather "Anish" Anderson was preparing for a record-setting attempt on the Appalachian Trail, the Cascades were a ready-made training ground.

Not the trails, though. They were too easy.

To prepare for the rugged Appalachian Trail, Anderson, who lives in Edmonds, climbed many of the highest peaks in Washington.

Her work paid off. In September, Anderson finished the...

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November 24  |  By Jessi Loerch
Stevens Pass purchases snow maker for base area Stevens Pass Mountain Resort has purchased a snow maker for use in the base area.

The chairlifts at the ski area are built for mid-season snow depths, not early season conditions. This has always been an issue*, said Alysa Hetze, communications and social media manager for Stevens Pass.

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November 20  |  Jessi Loerch
Winter is clearly here. After the recent storms, it seems like a good time to check in with some safety basics.

Don't let winter keep you indoors, but before you go out to play, make sure you're prepared to do it safely.


Leave your plan of travel with someone before you go. Give them a time to call 911 to report you missing if you don't return. WTA has a form at

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November 20  |  By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
Last week's storm with heavy rain, strong wind and snow caused widespread damage to roads and trails throughout Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, rangers say.

U.S. 2 is closed at Skykomish due to erosion under a bridge. That blocks access to some trails, including Necklace Valley and the East Fork Foss trails. U.S. 2 is unlikely to reopen before Wednesday.

Off U.S. 2, the road to Lake Dorothy is closed by blow-downs and a washout. Crews were working to...

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November 18  |  Jessi Loerch
Mount Baker Ski Area will open for the season on Thursday. 

The ski area reported that it had 37 inches of snow at the base and 60 inches at the top of Pan Dome. Check out the snow report. 

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November 18  |  By Gale Fiege
Author Greg Johnston will visit the Mountain Loop Books and Coffee shop from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 21 to talk about his new book, "Washington's Pacific Coast: A Guide to Hiking, Camping, Fishing and other Adventures."

The shop is located at 1085 Darrington St., Darrington.

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November 17  |  By Jessi Loerch
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest sent out a press release today reminding people to be prepared for severe weather.

The tips are, of course, relevant to the current storm system but they also are good advice for all winter travel in the forest. 

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November 16  |  
The Northwest Avalanche Center will present a session to help you make better decisions in the backcountry from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 19 at REI in Seattle.

Human factors lead to more than 90 percent of avalanche accidents. Lynne Wolfe, editor of The Avalanche Review and an avalanche class teacher, will talk about using a systems analysis approach to stay safe in the mountains.

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