What’s Your National Park?

Recently the National Park Service rolled out with a neat and informative campaign called Find Your Park, which focuses on redefining the traditional definition of “national park”. I agree with the campaign purpose and its aim to reduce typical stereotypes of what qualifies as a national park. I do it too. National recreation areas include much more than just the big parks. For instance, check out this list of national recreation sites and trails in Washington alone. It includes way more properties than the three big parks (Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades) that immediately come to my mind. Based on just this list, I have a lot more exploring to do in the state. The NPS campaign is expected to last until the organization’s Centennial in 2016. Lastly, the NPS campaign nicely incorporates social media – and who doesn’t love that :).

Also, Bill Nye:

Article: Record-low snow levels in Washington mean early hiking season

Seattle Times writer Walker Orenstein just posted an article on how Washington’s minimal snow season means an early hiking season for some. According to Orenstein, the national parks and other hiking areas in the state are receiving more traffic due to the record-low snow. The article offers some great suggestions for those seeking snow-less hikes in the state, including in the Columbia River Gorge area, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie NF, and Okanogan-Wenatchee NF. While I prefer hiking without a lot of snow, sometimes a lot of snowpack makes for an exciting hike. I recommend a trip up to Paradise in Rainier National Park for some easy snow hiking: the road to Paradise above Longmire just opened a few days ago. I was up at Paradise a few months ago and hiked up to Panorama Point. At the time, I didn’t need snowshoes because the snow was packed so well. If you go on a nice weekend day, expect some crowds at Paradise. Crowds and all, though, it’s amazing to hike up this close to Rainier on a clear day and see this magnificent and massive mountain up close and personal.

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Looking up towards Mount Rainier.

The Newly Reopened Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area

I got out and explored the Woodard Bay NRCA today and finally got to hike down to the pier area. I’ve been a few times to the Upper Overlook Trail (which closes March-August) but never to the opposite side of Woodard Bay because they were previously doing repairs there. The hike is only about two miles out and back but the Loop Trail goes through some pretty forested areas. The Loop Trail and the dirt road that parallel it both end at the Chapman Bay Pier, where timber companies use to unload logs for transport up the Puget Sound until about the 1980s. Up until February of this year, the state was removing sections of the old pier and sprucing up the place. It looks beautiful and is great for picnicking and for family hikes. I added some photos of it to my post. If you do go, definitely take the Loop Trail, ideally on the way out there. The road, which is closed to all both authorized NRCA employees, is handicapped accessible. Also, you’ll need a Washington State Discover Pass to park at the trailhead.

I know I’m behind a few trail review posts but hopefully this will tide you over until next week. I started this blog as part of a class assignment and decided to keep it going because it was fun and let me share some of my hikes. That said, blogging on a regular basis is a lot of work! Hats off to those writers who keep it going without fail. Anyways, my semester ends this week so next I can catch up with posts about Mima Mounds, Hugo Peak, and the beautiful Flapjack Lakes hike I did a few weekends ago. Until then, Happy Hiking!

Some Great Hikes in the Columbia River Gorge Area

I came across this article yesterday on the “Five best hikes on Washington side of Columbia River Gorge” and thought it did a good job of identifying some interesting sounding trails in the Columbia River Gorge region. While I haven’t been hiking in the Columbia River Gorge yet, I’ve determined that I must visit it this summer. If you’re looking for other hikes in that area, check out this article from The Oregonian’s Travels with Terry about the best wildflower hiking in the Columbia River Gorge area.

Climbing Mt. St. Helens? Do your prep work first

I came across this recent article about preparing for and hiking Mt St Helens and it offers an accurate description. I climbed Mt St Helens via Monitor Ridge Trail last October. It was an amazing experience and one of the more challenging hikes I’ve ever done (especially since I was hauling a nine-month-old baby!). That being said, I wish I knew about the permitting system in advance and what to expect. I purchased my permits in early summer, around May or early June, and was lucky to get permits for mid October.
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