When I was growing up, my family had lots of traditions involving outdoor activities. For instance, every year around Labor Day we would camp for a week at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod. I remember always having to touch the U.S. Geological Survey marker at the top of every mountain we climbed for it to officially count – at least according to my dad. Also, for as long as I can remember growing up (and even today), my dad never bought a Christmas tree. We always hiked a mile or more into the White Mountain National Forest to procure the “perfect” tree from what I think was a swamp outside of snow season. It was sort of like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – except without the station wagon. Anyways, another tradition I remember clearly was almost always taking a hike on Christmas and Easter days. On Christmas Day, we would commonly hike across the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as they are right next to my grandparent’s house. However, on Easter, we usually went hiking in New Hampshire. Last weekend on Easter, I continued that tradition with my son and wife. We visited Little Mashel River Falls at the Charles Lathrop Pack Forest in Eatonville, Wa. It was a nice family hike (albeit muddy) and a tradition I hope to keep. Check out my review below and see the short video I put together.
The Lena Lake Trail in the Hamma Hamma River watershed offers a spectacular hike up to a scenic alpine lake and easy access to other trails, including the Upper Lena Lake Trail in the Olympic NP and the path into the Valley of Silent Men in the Brothers Wilderness area. I hiked to Lena Lake (the lower one) with my son in early April. The hike up wasn’t too difficult, though it included lots of switchbacks in the first mile. At the end of this approx. 2.5-mile-long trail (5 miles out and back), I was greeted with amazing views of Lena Lake and the surrounding peaks. Many campsites line the western and northern sides of Lena Lake. I expect that this is a popular hike, especially during the summer season.
Back in early March my family and I hiked up Hugo Peak at the Charles Lathrop Pack Experimental and Demonstration Forest in Eatonville, Wa. The hike was easy (about 5 miles round trip) and the trail climbed gradually up through some clear cuts and older growth forests. All in all, it was a nice outing, though there wasn’t much in the way of a view except for about halfway when the trail traverses a clear cut and you can see northwards fairly well. The plusses: you don’t need to pay to access Pack Forest. The minuses: the facilities at the trailhead of the Hugo Peak Trail are in rough shape. The bathroom was out of order (because of vandalism) the last few times I visited.
Alright, time for an overdue review! A few weeks ago I took an amazing hike up to Flapjack Lakes in Olympic National Park. This was my first major hike in Olympic NP and I got to the trailhead really late in the day (1 p.m.). That said, I was blessed with some great weather the entire hike and made it out just as the sun was setting. All told, the hike was 15 miles out and back, plus I think I hiked around the lakes for at least a mile. The scenery at the top was amazing with the Sawtooth Mountains rising up behind these alpine lakes and creating a gigantic natural amphitheater.
Check out my new video review of the Charles Lathrop Pack Experimental and Demonstration Forest in Eatonville, Washington.
I spent a few days filming some of my hikes there and had a blast. I recommend checking out the Hugo Peak and Falls trails if you visit (make sure to download a trail map if you do go). Watch the video to learn more.
= While the entire route is approximately 12 miles, the trails themselves don’t gain or lose much elevation. If you can hike 10 miles, then you can hike this. The route does get a little wet in spots, especially on the upper part of the Lost Valley trail and down near the Mima Falls area.
Disclaimer: The following review was based off my first-ever visit to the Charles Lathrop Pack Experimental and Demonstration Forest. During my trip, I explored only a mile or two of trails (Nelder Trail, SFI, and Gessel Memorial Arboretum) until coming across a map that gave me some idea of the much larger trail system there. Up until then, I was utterly confused by the trails. If you do go, either download the Pack Forest trail map beforehand or see a large print version of the map at the Forest’s entrance station. The most accessible trail, the Hugo Peak Trail, begins right at the entrance station and goes for more than two miles while also connecting with other trails.