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    Golfing Around the Sound – Three Multi-Course Options

    Location: Western Washington USA

    I began golfing a little more than a year ago, when we settled into our new summer place on a golf course. I had dabbled in a golf a long time ago, but hadn’t picked up a club in twenty years. And so it has been like starting over. Our summers in Washington have given me a great opportunity to learn while golfing around the sound. And during the year we were stuck in the USA it was a great time to take up the sport.

    My home course of McCormick Woods

    Learning to Golf

    I’ve played A LOT since I decided to learn the game and I have also taken lessons and had a coach. Getting some coaching pointers and playing consistently (about once a week) has helped me learn and improve my game. I still have a long ways to go but I enjoy the game a great deal and especially enjoy having another activity to spend time with my husband.

    View from the 12th hole at McCormick Woods

    It might be surprising to some, but I feel one of the best ways to improve is to play at as many different courses as possible. I know many golfers like to play their “home” course only, but I find by moving around to new courses I don’t fall into a comfortable pattern and am therefore always challenged and learning new things.

    Gold Mountain

    Golfing Around the Sound

    Given that strategy we set out this summer to explore as many courses in the Pacific Northwest as we could. For Christmas my husband gave me a Golfing Around the Sound golf package, 11 courses included for $220. We created three golf “weekends” (we did them mid-week) and covered courses in Skagit and Snohomish County; Mason, Kitsap; Clallam and Jefferson County too.

    Glen Eagle Course

    Some courses are certainly better than others, but all the courses we played offered wonderful opportunities to learn and enjoy this crazy game. If you want to give this a try for yourself, here is our suggestions for three golf getaways in the Pacific Northwest. I imagine next summer we will try this again and expand to more courses including to the south and east.

    SKAGIT & SNOHOMISH

    La Conner Channel Lodge

    Using the lovely little town of La Conner (Skagit Valley) as our home base, we booked a fabulous room on the water at the La Conner Channel Lodge for two nights. This unique boutique style hotel sits right on the La Conner Channel and offers spectacular sunsets. While in La Conner we visited the Swinomish Indian Reservation, did a little boutique shopping and visited the local fresh markets where we purchased blueberries, raspberries and peaches to take home.

    Berries from La Conner
    Dinner at Nell Thorn
    Dinner at La Conner Brewery

    We played three courses in the Skagit/ Snohomish region. Each course was easy to get a tee time for our dates of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday;

    Burlington

    GLENEAGLE GOLF COURSE – This course in Burlington was nice, but some of the fairways are pretty tight and there are many houses, so it’s a bit stressful for an erratic golfer like me. Also, as first timers we wished for better signage between tees. Gleneagle has a restaurant on site.

    Gleneagle

    AVALON LINKS – I liked this course in Burlington; it was pretty while still being relatively easy for a beginner. Strangely this course has 27 holes…not sure why that is, but we played 18 and had a very enjoyable game. A small cafe is available on site.

    Avalon

    Snohomish

    THE GOLF CLUB AT ECHO FALLS – This is a beautiful course in Snohomish, and of the three the most challenging. We had a really fun game here. I had a cart but my husband was walking and he did wish the tees were not so far apart….sometimes a bit difficult to find. The clubhouse and restaurant and the entire grounds here are very beautiful.

    Echo Falls

    We recommend dining in La Conner at Nell Thorn for a delicious dinner made fresh with local ingredients. And for something a little less formal, try La Conner Brewing for excellent beer, burgers, tacos and salads.

    MASON & KITSAP

    Since we live in Kitsap County and near the border with Mason, we did not stay in a hotel while exploring these five courses listed below (three in our Around the Sound package and two not). But we can recommend from experience choosing to stay at the beautiful Alderbrook Resort & Spa on Hood Canal or the Silverdale Beach Hotel on the waterfront in Silverdale.

    View at Alderbrook

    We also recommend dining at Alderbook Resort, McCormick Woods Club House Restaurant and the Kingston Ale House near White Horse.

    Kingston Ale House

    Meanwhile we enjoyed these courses;

    Union

    ALDERBROOK GOLF CLUB – Our friend John invited us to enjoy nine holes with him at his home course of Alderbrook Golf Club in Union. This course is not part of the Around the Sound package. It was our first time playing here and I enjoyed it very much. This course has both homes and a lot of trees along the fairways, but it was just the right amount of challenge for me (and I only lost a couple of balls!).

    Alderbrook

    Bremerton

    GOLD MOUNTAIN GOLF COURSE – One of three courses within fifteen minutes of my house, Gold Mountain is an outstanding municipal course in Bremerton. I really love playing here, although I have only played the Cascade course. The Olympic course is more challenging…maybe next year. Anyway this is a beautiful rolling course with no houses…for me I need a cart as it has a lot of hills.

    Gold Mountain

    Port Orchard

    TROPHY LAKE GOLF & CASTING – Not on the Around the Sound package, Trophy Lake in Port Orchard is one of my favorite courses. It’s just right for my skill level and I enjoy the grounds and the fact there aren’t any houses. It’s very close to where I live so that’s a bonus too.

    Trophy Lake

    MCCORMICK WOODS GOLF CLUB – Well, you can’t get much closer for me, as I live on the 6th hole at McCormick Woods. I never imagined living on a golf course but we have quickly fallen in love with this beautiful community that surrounds this beautiful course. This public course in Port Orchard also has memberships as well as an excellent restaurant. It’s challenging though, with lots of houses and lots of underbrush and water too. It’s here I have taken my lessons and had my coaching with course Pro Kyle Larson.

    McCormick Woods

    Kingston

    WHITE HORSE GOLF CLUB – One of the more challenging courses I’ve played this summer, White Horse is in Kingston and is tough but a great learning course. I was in the sand A LOT. It’s a beautiful course with only a few houses. A very nice club house and restaurant too. Very close to the Kingston Ferry.

    White Horse

    JEFFERSON & CLALLAM

    The Resort at Port Ludlow

    We ventured across the Hood Canal Bridge for three days in Jefferson and Clallam Counties, one of our favorite areas in Washington, and a perfect golfing around the sound getaway. We spent two lovely nights at the The Resort at Port Ludlow. During our visit we had dinner at Port Ludlow (amazing), as well as breakfast at Stymies at the Cedars at Dungeness. We spent some time in Port Townsend checking out the shops and visiting Fort Worden State Park. We dined in Port Townsend at La Cocina Mexican.

    Breakfast at Stymies in Sequim
    Dinner at the Fireside at Port Ludlow
    Lunch at La Cocina in Port Townsend

    Our getaway included playing at these three fun courses (all included in our Around the Sound package).

    Sequim

    THE CEDARS AT DUNGENESS – I enjoyed this course a lot, even though my score didn’t reflect that! It’s a well maintained course with some beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains right in the heart of beautiful Sequim. We met friends for breakfast before we teed off and the restaurant Stymies was a great choice.

    Beautiful views at The Cedars at Dungenes

    SUNLAND GOLF COURSE – I had fun at this course, even though my cart was an antique. The course itself was well-maintained and fun. The fairways are really tight though, with houses and trees, but I managed to stay out of people’s yards (for the most part). It’s a great option in Sequim.

    Sunland Golf Course

    Port Ludlow

    PORT LUDLOW GOLF CLUB I struggled at this VERY hilly course…and lost a lot of balls too. When we arrived I asked the guy in the Pro Shop if the course was hilly, as I was trying to decide if I would walk or get a cart. He said there were a “couple of hills”. So I decided to walk. By the end of 18 I was ready to drop. There are way more than “couple of hills”. I recommend a cart. This course has a lot of water and also houses to avoid. We enjoyed our visit despite it all and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day we had on the greens.

    Port Ludlow Golf Resort

    GOLFING AROUND THE SOUND

    These are a few of our finds this summer as we spent time golfing around the sound. There are many more wonderful options to golf in the Puget Sound region…we hope to find those when we return from our winter travels next spring.

    Port Ludlow

    Meanwhile, it’s time to clean the clubs and get them ready for two months in Maui, where we love to golf. Stay tuned for our Maui adventures starting in September (we hope…unless the PanDamit shuts everything down again).

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review America’s First Daughter by Dray and Kamoie

    In our neighborhood we have one of those little free lending libraries. You know the kind mean…take a book, leave a book. I stop by the little library from time to time, just to see what’s available, even though I do most my reading on Kindle. A few weeks ago I found this book…and I am really glad I did. I hope you enjoy my book review America’s First Daughter by Dray and Kamoie

    History and Legend

    Using the 18,000 letters Thomas Jefferson wrote in his lifetime as the core research of this book, we are transported to Revolutionary America, Jefferson’s Monticello, Paris France and the White House through the eyes and ears of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph.

    Meticulously researched but presented in a novel of fiction, America’s First Daughter takes the known facts, exact words and language and sprinkles in assumption and fictional intrigue to develop a book I could not put down. Patsy Jefferson was a witness to history that formed and transformed our country…during a time where women silently yielded power and council. And Patsy Jefferson did it brilliantly.

    America’s Greatest?

    As time has shown the tarnish of Jefferson as a man, Patsy spent her life time as his companion and protector of his vast secrets and faults. Even while she battled her own love loss, and difficult marriage, she never faltered in holding up her father as the greatest American, even in her knowledge of his many lies and ambiguities. Despite his unwillingness to grant her her own happiness, she dedicated her entire life to him. Jefferson always put his country before his family and she accepted and embraced that man and the myth.

    I learned a lot from this book…expanding on knowledge I already had of both Thomas Jefferson and this period in American history. This work was very enjoyable and I am glad I picked it up at the little library. I hope you enjoyed my book review America’s First Daughter by Dray and Kamoie.

    *****Five stars for America’s First Daughter

    Read last week’s review of Washington Black

    My current read Run by Ann Patchett

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    At Home  --  Inspire

    A Passion For Creating In Wood

    Finding a Post- Retirement Purpose

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    I can really identify with Joel Burkhardt. It’s easy to identify with the emotions you encounter when you first retire and are struggling to find what’s next. Retirement can have you looking for focus and passion in a new unknown period of life. Neither of us are the first to step into retirement and feel a bit lost. But for lifelong Gig Harbor resident Joel, he is finding some solace in a passion for creating in wood.

    Chief Petty Officer Joel Burkhardt at his retirement last April

    Post Retirement Focus

    After 32 years in the Coast Guard, when Joel retired in April he foundered…his entire identity was wrapped up in being a Chief Petty Officer in the Coast Guard. One day he was. The next day he wasn’t. He admittedly felt “weird” while he searched to settle into his new identity. A cancer diagnosis didn’t help, and so Joel found some comfort in working with his hands and a passion for creating in wood.

    Joel in his Gig Harbor shop

    “People don’t realize what’s going to happen when they retire,” Joel said. “After 32 years in the military, it’s hard to justify in my head that career is over.” Joel wondered who he was now that he wasn’t in the Coast Guard. He turned to friends and the VA to help keep him focused. And he turned to a new hobby of woodworking.

    This cutting board is coming together with walnut, mahogany and black palm

    A New Hobby

    Joel had dabbled in woodworking a little before retiring, making a bell for his unit (see photos) to use for ceremonies and call to assembly. But when his mom needed a cutting board, he told her he would make her one. His wife Kelly posted pictures of the cutting board and then someone else wanted one. I saw the pictures and I wanted one too. And now, Joel creates beautiful, one of a kind trays and cutting boards in his shop near Wollochet Bay where he is finding his passion for creating in wood.

    Joel’s early work, the bell
    Resin display on the bell

    Every piece Joel makes is unique. Clients can choose the wood (his favorites are walnut, mahogany and purple heart) as well as the design and the size. Joel has a distinctive process of doing fractal burning on some pieces and can add color to the burn. It makes the wood look like it’s been touched by the hand of Zeus himself.

    Joel also loves to work with resin, and depending on what the wood piece is going to be used for, a resin finish is often added. Resin can also be used in many artistic ways and he is enjoying getting creative with this substance.

    Work in progress

    “Wood prices are finally coming down,” Joel told me this week from his shop. “We can get exotic wood like zebra, black palm, leopard and highly marbled walnut.” Joel finds his wood at shops in Tacoma and Everett and sometimes even from Amazon.

    Dancing Ghost Woodworks

    Joel named his new wood working business Dancing Ghost Woodworks and you can find him on Facebook. He looks forward to working with clients to pick out the wood and design. He then gets busy matching the grains, planing and finishing. If you want a design or logo he can do that too, free hand with his palm router.

    My board in my kitchen

    The cutting board Joel made me was made from end cuts and it is so clever and beautiful. It looks awesome in my kitchen and I love it. Not to mention I use it daily and it is solid and sturdy.

    Want to shop local, thank a dedicated veteran AND have a one-of-a-kind piece of art? Contact my friend Joel. You’ll be glad you did.

    See our blog about Re-Wirement – Finding Your Midlife Passion

    Want to support other local businesses? See our blog about A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor, and our recent post Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One)

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

    I both loved and didn’t love this book. Mostly I loved it. It’s a very unique look at the life of a slave, who, without trying became a world traveler and brilliant marine biologist. I hope you enjoy by book review Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

    A Slave

    Washington Black was born a slave in Barbados on a sugar plantation. He both loves and fears Big Kit, the slave women who watches over him. From a very young age “Wash” is in the fields working alongside Big Kit. When the “Master” dies and his son arrives from London to take over the plantation, Wash and the other slaves lives change to a life of fear.

    Unexpected

    The new Master’s brother Christopher arrives for an unexpected visit when Wash is eleven and nothing will ever be the same. Christophe is an eccentric “scientist” fascinated with flight and chooses Wash as his personal assistant to both live with him and help him with his scientific work.

    This relationship will define who Washington Black will become. Working next to Christopher Wild Wash will learn to read and write, will fly through the air in a hot air balloon contraption, will crash land and sail on from Barbados to the Arctic. Wash will also be the only witness to a suicide, and the resulting blame for the death will haunt him for his entire life. But Christopher takes him under his wing to protect him,

    When Christopher abandons Wash, a third life will begin for the teen.

    Love

    As Wash “survives”, his travels will continue from the Arctic to London where he will discover two things he loves; marine biology and a girl named Tanna. But always Wash can’t stop thinking about Christopher abandoning him when he was just a boy. And so Wash will search out his friend in the far reaches of Morocco.

    Adventure

    More adventures than one boy could ever imagine make up the life of Washington Black…an unexpected life of a slave child from Barbados. Sometimes parts of this story seemed so far-fetched to me a scoffed at it, and yet Edugyan writing kept me wondering how this wild ride for this boy/man would end.

    I hope you enjoyed my book review of Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

    ****Four stars for Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

    See last week’s review of A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling

    See our Reading Year in Review 2020-2021 here

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    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault

    A Review

    Location: Lake Quinault, Washington State, USA

    A couple of weeks ago my family had the pleasure of staying in a rustic lakeside cabin at the Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault. Don’t be confused, this is not the Lake Quinault Lodge. It is a smaller and much more affordable option just down the road. Here is my review of Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault.

    Rain Forest Park Lodge, Lake Quinault

    Just the Boys

    My husband and grown sons planned a summer through-hike in the Olympic National Park, starting at the Dosewallips River in Brinnon and hiking 40 miles to Lake Quinault. This four day hike was a great father-son activity, while I stayed home and attended the wedding of my friend’s daughter. The hike was a huge success, with great weather and even greater views and a lifelong goal for my husband. I’m so glad they went.

    My sons on the hike

    Then There Were Four

    After four days I drove to the Lake Quinault trailhead to meet them. They arrived dirty, smelly and happy. We then proceeded to the Rain Forest Lodge, an old rustic lodge right on the shores of beautiful glacier-fed Lake Quinault. We chose to stay in one of the lakeside cabins here instead at the much more expensive Lake Quinault Lodge a mile down the road. The Rain Forest Lodge has a spectacular location that includes lake view fireplace cabins (ours, #6, was the best), a small motel style roadside inn, and RV camping. Our two bedroom cabin had a big bathroom, a well equipped kitchen, a nice living area and a very large deck for $360 a night for four people.

    Rustic but comfy

    Lake Quinault

    Beautiful Lake Quinault is a glacial carved lake at the end of the Quinault River, located on the southern edge of the Olympic National Park in the Quinault Rainforest. The temperate rainforest and area around Lake Quinault receives an average of 333 centimeters (131 inches) of precipitation per year! Long before logging arrived or the Lake Quinault Lodge was built (1926) or Olympic National Park was created (1938), Lake Quinault was home to the Quinault people, a Coast Salish Tribe.

    Beautiful Lake Quinault

    The Salmon House

    The Rain Forest Lodge has a general store, laundromat, post office and one of the best restaurants for miles around. No contest. The affordable menu at The Salmon House is amazing. We got our dinner to go and took it back to our cabin and we enjoyed it so much. They offer the most delicious salmon you will ever have, as well as lots of other options too. Even if you aren’t staying over you might consider eating here. Check out the menu here.

    Take out salmon and burgers was so amazing

    World’s Largest Spruce Tree

    Now this isn’t like the largest ball of yarn, or the Corn Palace. This is truly the world’s largest Spruce Tree and it’s right on the property at The Rain Forest Lodge. Here is what their website says about it;

    Lake Quinault is the “Valley of the Rain Forest Giants©” and the Big Spruce Tree at the Resort is one of them. The tree is the World’s Largest Spruce with a circumference of 58 feet, 11 inches, diameter of 18 feet, 9 inches and 191 feet tall for a total of 922 AFA points. A very large tree near Seaside, Oregon claimed to be the United States largest spruce tree, it has 902 AFA points. The American Forestry Association declared them close enough to be CO-champions. But sadly the Seaside tree fall to a winter storm in 2007, but another large Spruce tree has been found up the Queets Valley and again it has a few less AFA pionts then the Quinault tree but is larger in wood volume. it is about a 45 minute drive from the resort.

    World’s Largest Spruce Tree

    Free to visit and you should.

    So that is my review of The Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault. You should definitely visit. I’m sure we will go back again.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling

    Clever. Heart Warming. Brutal. This new English translation of Zhang Ling’s unforgettable novel will have you on the edge of your seat. Here is my book review A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling.

    When Emperor Hirohito announces Japan’s surrender to the Allies, three men make a pact, agreeing that after thier deaths their souls will return to this Chinese village each year. The village is where they have met, fought and befriended each other.

    But it takes seventy years before all three will find themselves together again, their souls converging on the tiny Chinese village where their story began. An American missionary, a gunner and a local Chinese soldier. How these three men from very different backgrounds will touch each other’s lives is a remarkable journey.

    And of course there is a girl. Her name is Ah Yan also called Swallow. Her profound impression on the three men in unique and very different ways will change her life, and the lives of each man.

    The best part of this remarkable book for me is the telling. Ling’s beautiful writing narrates in the voice of each man from beyond the grave…a unique telling of the story as each man looks back on his life and the impact Ah Yan has on it. I hope you enjoyed my book review A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling.

    Remarkable book and beautifully written and translated.

    *****Five stars for A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling

    Read last week’s review of Unsettled Ground.

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    North America Travel

    Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest

    Summer and Fall a Great Time to Hike

    Location: Pacific Northwest

    Hiking is one of our most favorite activities and it is so good for you too. We love everything from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain (almost 500 miles) to short day hikes close to home. Spending our summers in the Pacific Northwest where we grew up, we are spoiled by so many great day hikes close by. So I thought I would put together a list of my favorite day hikes in the Pacific Northwest.

    Olympic Peninsula

    Definitely one of the most beautiful places to hike anywhere in the world, the Olympic Peninsula is the closest to my home of the regions I’ve listed here. Located in Washington State’s upper Northwest region, it offers both day and overnight hiking options for the novice to the advanced. Listed here are a handful of my favorite day hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

    South Fork Skokomish RiverMap it

    South Fork Skokomish River

    Beautiful and relatively easy with minimal incline (there is some but nothing too strenuous) this well-maintained trail skirts the South Fork of the Skokomish River in a region just Southwest of the lower Hood Canal. To walk the entire out and back it can be eleven miles or a bit more, or turn around at any point. Keep your eyes open for some beautiful and massive old cedar and Douglas fir trees. There are a handful of areas to access the river for your picnic or a place to rest and enjoy this peaceful location.

    Parking is available

    Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass Required

    Learn more about Lower Skokomish trail here.

    Storm KingMap it

    Storm King view of Crescent Lake

    We hiked this for the first time this past July and it is a climb! If you don’t want incline this one is not for you. But boy do you get some beautiful views from the top. The trail is steep and in places rocky as you traverse the 2 miles to the top. It’s popular on weekends so consider off season or mid-week. The last part to the peak requires use of ropes to conquer the top. Or just sit on the rocks and eat your lunch and let the young kids do that last part.

    Parking is available at the Crescent Lake parking area

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Storm King and Crescent Lake here.

    Lena LakeMap it

    Lena Lake

    I have hiked this trail all my life, since I was a little child and we used to hike overnight for our summer vacation. Some elevation to lower Lena, but it’s a perfect day hike at about 7 miles round trip. The incline is gentle and most anyone can do it. The trail does have some rocky areas and lots of roots but you will marvel at the beautiful old growth Douglas Firs. The turquoise blue lake is perfect for your lunch and then head back down. Overnight hikers can consider continuing on to upper Lena another xx miles.

    Parking available

    Northwest Forest pass or America the Beautiful Pass required

    Learn more about Lena Lake here.

    See more Olympic Peninsula Hikes here.

    Close to Seattle

    Visitors and locals in the Seattle area are lucky to have great day hikes a short drive or even a walk away. We often urban hike around Seattle and Ballard or head east of the city into the Cascade foothills for easy, accessible hikes.

    Discovery ParkMap it

    Discovery Park

    A hidden gem in the City of Seattle, Discovery Park is just that – a surprising discovery! Suddenly you find yourself in a beautiful wooded park, on a bluff high above the Puget Sound or on the shore of a driftwood-littered beach. If you are in Seattle and are looking for the perfect day hike close to the city, this is it. Multiple hiking options through out this beautiful 534 acre city oasis. Who knew day hikes in the Pacific Northwest would include one in the heart of a city?

    Parking is available.

    Free

    Learn more here about Discovery Park.

    Franklin FallsMap it

    Franklin Falls

    Less than an hour East of Seattle just off Interstate 90 is an easy little 2 mile hike to Franklin Falls on Denny Creek. This popular day trip from Seattle can get really crowded on a summer weekend. But check it out in the fall for a beautiful getaway with fall color, or in the spring when the falls are crashing from the winter melt. It’s a great multi-season destination and perfect for the whole family.

    Limited Parking

    Washington State Discover Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Franklin Falls and the Denny Creek campground here

    See more close to Seattle hikes here.

    North Side of Mount Rainier

    The North side of Mount Rainier is easily accessed from central and south Puget Sound and is one of my most favorite places to hike. There are many choices but the ones listed below are some of my favorite.

    Tolmie PeakMap it

    Tolmie Peak

    I love this hike, even though the road getting to the trailhead can be rough. Start at the Mowich Lake campground and hike the 7 miles round trip to one of the best views in all of Washington State. Passing by Eunice Lake and continuing up to an abandoned fire look out where you will not only enjoy a stunning Mount Rainier view but on a clear day you will also see Mount Baker, Glacier Peak and Mount Saint Helens.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Tolmie Peak here.

    Spray ParkMap it

    Spray Park

    This trail also begins at Mowich Lake on the south end. The first quarter mile your are walking on the Wonderland trail before the Spray Park trail branches off. This trail (6 miles RT) takes you through a beautiful and delicate sub-alpine meadows and along to Spray Falls. In late summer an abundance of wildflowers make the trail popular especially on the weekend. Gentle incline and this is easy for most anyone.

    Parking available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Spray Park trail here.

    Summit LakeMap it

    Summit Lake

    On a clear day you can see forever. No joke. This hike is worth the elevation gain of about 1300 feet over about 3 miles. It’s just gorgeous. The road to get there is not so gorgeous though so be sure to have a all-wheel drive if possible. The road often has snow into June. The best time to hike here is June through October.

    Parking Available

    Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required.

    Learn more about Summit Lake here.

    Crystal MountainMap-it

    Crystal Mountain

    The Mount Rainier gondola at Crystal Mountain ski resort is open in the summer and zips you up 2400 feet to the top of the ski area for a spectacular view. On a clear day you can see a succession of mountains including Rainier, Saint Helens, Adams and Baker through out the Cascade range. Hikers can hike down the mountain enjoying the wildlife and subalpine meadows, small lakes and creeks along the way or you can ride the gondola back down.

    Parking Available

    Gondola price ranges from $19-34. Online reservations are available.

    Learn more about the gondola here.

    South Side of Mount Rainier

    More remote than the North side of Mount Rainier, the Southside, including the Sunrise Visitor Center, has fewer visitors so is a good choice during peak season. But it does take longer to get there. Overnight in the Ashford or Packwood area makes for a nice multi-day visit.

    Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap Map it

    Sheep Lake

    We just did this hike for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. The weather was not very cooperative however, so we did only about five miles. This trail, part of the Pacific Coast Trail, goes on and on, and I really would like to return and see more of it next summer. The first part up to Sheep Lake is very easy as the trail wanders along the ridge and then inland to the lake. Continuing on you have several options to Sourdough Gap as well as Crystal Lake. This hike skirts Mount Rainier National Park and falls within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

    We had the place to ourselves on a fairly stormy fall day, but this hike can be very busy on a nice summer weekend. Consider midweek or fall. The fall colors were excellent.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful or Northwest Forest Pass Required

    Learn more about Sheep Lake here.

    Burroughs MountainMap it

    Burroughs Mountain

    On this five mile hike that leaves from the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park you will get as close as possible to Mount Rainier without actually climbing the mountain. There are three Burroughs peaks on this hike, and snow is often on or near the trail well into the summer months so come prepared. It feels like a moonscape, and yet a few flowers and plants flourish as do several small mammals.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass Required

    Learn more about Burroughs Mountain here

    Silver FallsMap it

    Silver Falls

    This very easy 3 mile round trip hike starts at the Ohanapekosh campground and leads you to one of the prettiest waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park. Easy meandering trail through beautiful forest, offers a great option for families or those looking for less incline with a big impact. Spectacular hike.

    Parking Available although limited

    America the Beautiful or Day Pass Required

    Learn more about Silver Falls here.

    Grove of the PatriarchsMap it

    Grove of the Patriarchs

    One of the most magical hikes in Mount Rainier, Grove of the Patriarchs is a wonderland of old growth trees, some as old as 1000 years. This easy 1.5 mile round trip hike can be done by anyone, including children. It’s a remarkable oasis of nature’s beauty and a reminder of the importance of preservation and care of our natural wonders.

    Parking available but limited

    Learn more about Grove of the Patriarchs here.

    Summerland TrailMap it

    Summerland Trail

    This beautiful alpine trail is 8.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2100 feet as you traverse from wildflower meadows up into subalpine tundra admiring views of Mount Rainier along the way. Steady incline and occasional rough trail make this better for more experienced hikers. Snow can be present into early summer. Very popular on weekends and parking is limited so come midweek, fall or early in the day.

    Parking available on the road but limited

    America the Beautiful or Day Pass required

    Learn more about the Summerland Trail here.

    Learn more about all hikes in Mount Rainier National Park here

    And Many More

    mount rainier
    Hiking with the family Summit Lake

    There are many more hiking options both for day and overnight that I have not listed here including trails North and farther South. Two great websites to learn more about day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are Alltrails.com and Washington Trails Association wta.org.

    Be sure to check the weather before setting off on any hike in the Pacific Northwest, as even in the summer it can be unpredictable. Be prepared to encounter wildlife, bring bug spray and sunscreen and plenty of water. And always make sure someone knows where you are going.

    With a little preparation, day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are rewarding, invigorating and always stunningly beautiful. Go outside!

    See our blog about My Favorite Things in Washington State here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

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