Elliott Bay Trail, Seattle

Elliott Bay Trail is a short walking/biking trail, twenty-minute walk from the touristy Pike Place Market. It is ideal for visitors of the Seattle area who wish to enjoy a great view without the crowd.

The trail starts from the Olympic Sculpture Park, goes through Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Park. There are interesting Pacific Northwest artifacts along the trail , such as a totem pole Continue reading “Elliott Bay Trail, Seattle”

Autumn in Mt. Rainier

People come to Mt. Rainier, in the summer for its myriad displays of wild flowers; in the winter for its endless opportunities of winter sports.

But on a beautiful sunny day in the autumn…

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The view could be equally astonishing.

14457564_974507629344890_7806518816704935320_n Continue reading “Autumn in Mt. Rainier”

Glacier Basin

Glacier Basin is a scenic hiking trail in the Mt Rainier National Park Sunrise Area.

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It offers a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier and Emmons Glacier.

The trail is in excellent condition (Thanks to WTA volunteers). It is relatively flat and shaded most of the the way to the top. Continue reading “Glacier Basin”

Ebey’s Landing

Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island is an easy, family-friendly loop trail with a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean.

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The trail starts either from the Prairie Overlook Trailhead or the seaside parking lot at the end of Ebey’s Landing Road. Washington State Discovery Pass is required to park in the parking lot.

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Looking at Penn Cove where the famous namesake mussels are farmed

Continue reading “Ebey’s Landing”

Crystal Lakes

Crystal Lakes Trail, in the Mount Rainier area, is a beautiful day hike best enjoyed in late spring (June) or early fall (October). With 2600 feet elevation gain in merely 3 miles, it may seem challenging, but the trail is very well maintained with mostly dirt path, and shaded most of the way to the top.

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Unless you are camping overnight, no pass or permit is required.

The only caveat is finding the trailhead. It is on the east side of Highway 410. While there are no signs visible from the road, parking is available on both sides of Highway 410. WTA website has a good description of how to get there.

Even if you drive past the trailhead, this view of Mt. Rainier, with rushing rapids of the White River snaking through verdant valley, is worth checking out.

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Back to the trailhead,  start the hike by crossing Crystal Creek on a rustic log bridge. Continue reading “Crystal Lakes”

Goat Lake

For those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, summer is finally upon us. Last weekend my friend and I hiked Goat Lake trail in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forrest.

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Located at the end of the Mountain Loop Highway, two hours drive from Seattle downtown, this is one of my favorite hikes in late spring/early summer. Thanks to volunteers from the Washington Trail Association, the trail is very well maintained and practically flat, making it a great destination for families with kids.

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The trail starts at the far end of the parking lot. In just a few minutes, come to a well signed junction for the Upper Elliot and Lower Elliot trails. They’ll rejoin in approximately three miles. Given that it was a 90°F day, under a cloudless blue sky, we picked the lower trail. It is mostly shaded and curves around a running creek that keeps the temperature down. Continue reading “Goat Lake”

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

I am taking a break from Japan posts
blue school bus

Because the sun is out, and it’s seventy degrees Fahrenheit outside!!!

red tulip in the field

If you know us Seattleleites, you’ll know that we are sun-deprived throughout the winter and as soon as the sun comes out, we drop whatever we do and head out. Continue reading “Skagit Valley Tulip Festival”

Winter in Mt. Rainier

There are three national parks in the state of Washington: Olympic, Mt. Rainier and North Cascade. Of the three, Mt. Rainier is the most popular among visitors. The best time to visit Mt. Rainier is summer, when days are long and wild flowers flourish the meadows in Sunrise and Paradise. Autumn can also be beautiful with colorful foliage, cool temperature and less visitors. Winter may be cold and harsh at Mt. Rainier National Park, but abundant snowfall creates spectacular scenery making it a popular place to enjoy winter activities.

Below are some tips I gathered from my visits this time of the year. Hopefully it will be helpful to other visitors.

Tip #1: Unless you arrive very early, avoid visiting the park on a fee-free day, or on the first sunny weekend after a long period of rain/snow. This is what you get, if you do:gate

Tip #2: Always check the weather forecast and follow the park’s twitter feed for road closures. For instance, the gate to Paradise is closed today due to avalanche danger. If you were planning to head to Paradise for any snow activities, you may be disappointed.

Tip #3: Dress for the weather. And don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen. Continue reading “Winter in Mt. Rainier”

Lake 22

I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow
-Emily Brontë

The day after Thanksgiving my friend and I took a hike to Lake 22. This was the first time we hiked to the Alpine Lakes so late in the season and it was truly a winter wonderland.

We started the hike in a typical Pacific Northwest rain forest, crossed wetland and several puncheon bridges, which were super icy and slippery. There were waterfalls and icicles along the way. It is true that you are never far from water on this trail. The last quarter of a mile descend to the lake, with snow on trail packed down by previous hikers was tricky. I am not sure microspike would work on the rocky surface, but yaktrax definitely helps. I didn’t bring either, talk about being unprepared. I managed by treading on powder snow along the side and did my best to avoid black(icy) rocks and tree roots.

Continue reading “Lake 22”