I’ve spent ten weeks in the beautiful state of Washington in the north-western United States. This is where I grew up and where my family is. It was fun being back, if only for a little while. There were so many things I wanted to do and see, and I didn’t get it all done. But I did manage to spend time enjoying my favorite hiking and cycling trails in Puget Sound.
I absolutely love cycling, and even though I started this sport rather late in life (48), I have embraced it. I ride a road bike (‘Specialized’ brand) but prefer to ride on paved trails rather than out in traffic. And there are two of my favorite trails less than an hour from where I have been staying;
- The Chehalis Western Trail is a fantastic trail on an old railroad bed, well maintained and very beautiful. It is located south of Tacoma Washington beginning in Lacey. You can start or stop at several locations along this 50-plus mile trail. You can make the ride even longer by continuing
on the Yelm-Tenino Trail. If you do the entire length of both these trails it’s more than 80 miles of paved bike path (with the small exception of about 100 yards of gravel). The trail includes views of Mount Rainier, bucolic farmland, the city of Olympia, and the Deschutes River. I was able to ride the Chehalis Western Trail three times while I was in Washington.
- The Olympic Discovery Trail is a spectacular trail on the Olympic Peninsula. You can ride more than fifty miles round trip on this trial, including a newly added section to Discovery Bay. There are a few sections of the trail that take you out to
ride short distances on the highway, but for the most part the trail runs along the old highway and well maintained paved trails and bridges. Highlights of this trail include crossing Dungeness River at the historic Railroad Bridge Park, riding through beautiful lavender fields in Sequim, enjoying views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and more bucolic farmland. Simply spectacular and my favorite by far. Unfortunately I only made it up to ride this trail once, but it was a beautiful day and I loved it.
Both of these trails are for non-motorized vehicles only, and walkers are also encouraged.
Speaking of walking, that is another of my favorite pastimes. Last year when we walked the 486 mile Camino de Santiago from France to Spain we trained for more than a year. Three months from now we plan to walk the 250 mile Camino de Santiago from Portugal to Spain and we have barely started our training! So during these ten weeks here in
Washington we have tried to get out and do urban hikes as well as two beautiful hikes on two of my favorite trails in the Olympic Mountains;
- Upper Big Quilcene / Marmot Pass Trail has a lot of elevation gain, but if you take it slow most anyone can do it. And what does elevation gain mean? Well of course it means spectacular views when you get to the top. It’s about five miles to Marmot Pass and another steep scramble if you want to reach Buckhorn Ridge. On a clear day you can see Seattle, all the Cascade mountains and for miles of the Olympic range as well. The trail is well maintained, although you will need to walk through a rocky section where a slide has taken place. This hike round trip if you go all the way to Buckhorn Ridge is 14 miles. Or to Marmot Pass about 11 miles. Be sure to have a Northwest Forest Pass (purchase ahead of time at many area locations).
- Lower Skokomish River Trail is one of my favorites. We usually do a ten-mile round trip on this trail, but you can go further. This well maintained trail takes you through
beautiful old growth forests and then along the Skokomish River for miles upstream. There are a couple of places where you can get down to the river bed for a picnic or to camp. The start of this trail is pretty steep, but once you get through the first mile it flattens out into a beautiful meandering trail where you hike through forests and cross creeks. There is another climb but its easy and then again a flat and enjoyable walk from there. This trail is rarely busy and I feel safe enough to walk this trail alone.
So there you go, some of my favorite active pastimes in the Pacific Northwest where I have been since May. We are now just days away from parting the USA again. We will return to Washington for another visit next June. Hopefully I’ll have more free time then, to cycle and hike around this spectacular state.
Departing in T minus 11 days.