This Saturday is the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day. Noted as the largest annual U.S. trails celebration, National Trails Day is a day for hikers of all ages to head out a explore their local hiking trails and destinations. According to the American Hiking Society website, National Trails Day events will take place in every state, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. These events won’t just include hiking too: they include horseback riding, bicycling, birdwatching, and geocaching activities as well. The focus is simply on getting outside and appreciating our natural and outdoor spaces. Here’s a complete list of the events in each state. Here’s some more information:
According to the American Hiking Society website, National Trails Day “evolved during the late ‘80s and ‘90s from a popular ethos among trail advocates, outdoor industry leaders and political bodies who wanted to unlock the vast potential in America’s National Trails System, transforming it from a collection of local paths into a true network of interconnected trails and vested trail organizations. This collective mindset hatched the idea of a singular day where the greater trail community could band together behind the NTD moniker to show their pride and dedication to the National Trails System”. Here’s a neat timeline that shows the establishment of NTD up to its 20th anniversary event in 2012.
I’ve never heard of National Trails Day before now. I really like the celebration focus and appreciate that communities in each state will hold special events honoring the outdoors and protected natural spaces. According to the AHS, there are some 200,000 miles of trails just in the U.S. Respecting and appreciating these foot- and multi-use paths is important to our physical and mental wellbeing and to the health of our communities.
If you like photography and social media, AHS encourages National Trails Day participants to email or upload their photos or post them to Instagram (tagged with @AmericanHiking and #NationalTrailsDay). Participants who post their photos can enter a contest – here’s some more information.
Finally, if you live in the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula area, there are several NTD events going on. Here’s a list of events in Tacoma-Olympia area. On the Olympic Peninsula, there are events in Sequim, Port Townsend, Quinault, Shelton, and near Aberdeen. Here’s where you can find a list of all the events in Washington. Lots of great hiking and exploring going on this Saturday!
This weekend, my family and I checked out Wynoochee Lake Shore Trail in Olympic National Forest. Beginning at Coho campground near Wynoochee Dam, we hiked around the entire lake (~16 miles) and saw Maidenhair Falls on the northern end. It was an interesting, sometimes fun, and sometimes really difficult hike given the poor condition of the trail. In some sections, the bushes were so overgrown that I felt like a jungle explorer (sans pith helmet and machete). Wynoochee Lake Shore Trail is a National Recreation Trail and probably was at one time a really great trail. However, I don’t think it’s received a whole lot of TLC since it was designated an NRT in 1979. All in all a decent hike and a fun experience. Maidenhair Falls were a beautiful find, however, if I ever do this trail again I will ford Wynoochee River just above the lake and save myself the trouble of trekking through the many campsites directly along the river. Check out my photos from the trip below and stay tuned (hopefully) next week for my review.
Thanks to arbyreed for the great photo.
Happy Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to all those who served or serve in our Armed Forces.
For many people around the country, Memorial Day weekend also marks the start of the summer camping season. If you do plan on camping or hiking this weekend, Washington Trails Association offers some excellent tips and advice on where to go in Washington and how to prepare. Some important takeaways from the WTA article: check the snow levels in the high country and prepare accordingly, especially if you plan on hiking or camping in the Northern Cascades/Mt. Rainier area, where snowpack often exists until mid summer. For finding a camping spot: don’t be afraid to wing-it and try dispersed camping (make your own camping spot) in National Forest lands. Just follow these Forest Service guidelines. If you plan on visiting Olympic Peninsula and find the Olympic NP sites all filled up, check out some of the lesser-known state and national forest campgrounds, such as Cottonwood and Hoh Oxbow (state land) on the west side or Hamma Hamma and Lena Creek (national forest) on the east side. Or try hiking into a wilderness camping site. The WTA article also identifies some great hikes around Washington, from the Columbia River Gorge and Olympic Peninsula to the Central and North Cascades and Washington’s Central and Eastern areas. If you have a to-do list of Washington hiking destinations, definitely check out some of these WTA suggestions.
For more news and information on Memorial Day hiking destinations and all things hiking and camping in the Pacific Northwest, check out Pacific Northwest Pathfinder’s PNW Trail News and Photos page. The news page features articles and photography from outdoor-oriented media outlets and blogs based in Washington and Oregon. Each week, the page offers new content to explore and share.
Mt. Rose in the Mt. Skokomish Wilderness presents a challenge for even the most seasoned hikers. Much of the only trail to its summit, Mt. Rose Trail #814, ascends rather steeply for most of the way. Within a mile of the summit, hikers take a loop path; here they can choose the steeper Summit Route to the left or the longer and slightly more gradual Ridge Route on the right. Along the summit ridge, the trail offers fantastic southern views of Lake Cushman and the Olympic NF peaks on the lake’s southern border. Looking northward on the trail presents glimpses of the popular Mt. Ellinor, as well as Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, and other major peaks in the Skokomish Wilderness. For all its difficulty and limited views though, Mt. Rose does beckon some and present opportunities for other hikers.
View from the top
Happy Mother’s Day! Take time to enjoy the day and get outside (if that’s what mom wishes, of course). Douglas Scott of GraysHarbor Talk offers some suggestions for great Mom’s Day hikes in Western Washington’s Grays Harbor area. I’ve explored a couple of the areas Scott mentions and each one delivers. The Maple Glade Trail and connector trails offer a beautiful stroll through moss-draped old-growth trees. Kalaloch and Ruby beaches are always fun to explore – and they are some of the few places in Olympic National Park where dogs can visit (on-leash). Not to leave out Oregon residents, I found this article on some of the top 20 hikes in the Beaver State. Either way, you can’t throw a rock in the Pacific Northwest without it landing on a stunning trail or hiking area. Take advantage of it!
Kestner-Higley Homestead, Kestner Homestead Trail, Quinault Rain Forest Ranger State, Olympic NP
Tolmie State Park in Olympia lets you hike, swim, and sunbath on the beach all in the same day. Tolmie encompasses some 1,800 feet of sand beach and coastline and a couple miles of inland hiking on trails that wind through old-growth forests. The main hiking trail is short at Tolmie (only a few miles long), but the scenery is pleasant and worth a trip. Also, the state park offers some great amenities, including beach access, picnicking areas and shelters, and boat moorage. The trails are short enough that you can easily bring the family to Tolmie for an afternoon or for a day at the beach and/or a hike.
Looking out towards the beach.
The Seattle Times’ Mark Yuasa writes about some exciting future developments for state parks and natural areas east of Seattle in his recent article “Project in Snoqualmie Corridor will mean more outdoor opportunities”. The state’s development plan will focus on Raging River State Forest, Tiger Mountain State Forest, West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), and the Mount Si NRCA, among other areas. According to the article:
“A 10- to 15-year vision outlined in a massive project plan by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) puts forth development and preservation of 120 miles of hiking trails, whitewater rapids, climbing areas, picnic and camping sites, and other recreational areas covering 53,500 acres.”
Over the next five years, the state will specifically focus on:
- Raging River (improving hiking and mountain biking accessibility)
- Mount Si (expanding trailhead parking and developing Mt. Teneriffe trail)
- Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA (expanding Mailbox Peak trailhead parking, adding new trailhead area for Granite Creek trail, adding several day-use areas)