Jul 30, 2006

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

Ok, not a good hiking trail in the traditional sense, the Snoqualmie Valley Trail runs along the Snoqualmie Valley from the Pass to "past Carnation" (I'm not sure where it ends). It's a converted rail-to-trail, that serves as a great trail for biking and horses. And based on the amount of horse scat littering the trail its clear this trail gets a lot of horse traffic.

I've traversed this from a number of access points between Carnation and North Bend, and each has its own character and charm. I really like between Fall City and Snoqualmie. It runs along a ridgeline and crosses some deep crevases. To the South, great views of Snoqualmie Ridge and the Cascades. It's flat with no elevation gains (so far as I can tell), making it kid-friendly for hiking and biking.

No pictures, just a recommendation for those that are into biking and horseback riding. Not as picturesque as the Iron Horse / John Wayne trail, but not as crowded, either.

Jul 23, 2006

Mount Margaret

Ok, we didn't hike Mt. Margaret today. But, after our fun at Denny Creek, we drove up into the pass and found a road that gave us access to some spectacular views of Mount Rainier. I'm going to post the raw images now, but I am going to try and clean them up later and repost.

Mount Margaret is on the east side of I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass. Due to its elevation (we were probably 5000 ft up), it provides a magnificent view of Mount Rainer over top of the Cascades (normally the Cascades block any view of Mount Rainier from almost anywhere in Snoqualmie Valley and Pass.

Pictures are below. Those are the Cascades in the foreground!

Denny Creek Slippery Slab

Wow, what a blast! The Denny Creek Slippery Slab is a natural water slide - a sheer rock formation covering a tenth of a mile or so with water flowing through it that creates an amazing water slide for kids (apparently adults too). At this time of year, the water is so shallow it doesn't pose a danger, and the rock is surprisingly comfortable - I damn near fell asleep after lunch.

Listed in both 55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie and Best Hikes for Kids in Western Washington, the water slide is located about 1.25 miles from the trailhead, which is just past the Denny Creek Campground off I-90 exit 47. It's listed as a 500 foot elevation gain, but frankly it feels steeper than that. Although it doesn't feel like a full mile and a quarter... more like just under a mile.

The trail is interesting. It's well groomed, well travelled (the parking was packed today, and runs under I-90 which is an interesting twist on nature. It crosses Denny Creek, and runs alongside it most of the way.

Definitely this is Spencer and Garrett's favorite hike so far! We spent a good two and a half hours there and would have spent more if Spencer had his way. Despite all the people, it really didn't feel crowded - plenty of space to spreah out even if there were 100 or so people there.

A great visit on a 90+ degree day in the Pass.

Jul 22, 2006

Keechelus Lake

We had such good luck at our last lake in Snoqualmie Pass, Gold Creek, that we decided to try big Keechelus (don't ask me how to prounouce it) Lake. It's located off the same exit (54 - Hyak) as Gold Creek.

What intrigued me to the lake were the descriptions on various caches that indicate that many of the islands in the lake can be traversed at certain times of the year depending on water level. Sure enough, today the water was down and we were actually able to walk to one of the islands on a cache hunt.

The views of course are amazing, but the lake lacks the tranquility of Gold Creek. Due to the receding water, there is much more "brown" than green. However, the water is shallow and warm, and the kids had a ball for an hour playing in the lake.

The Iron Horse trail runs near the lake, so I assume there are some side trails that run between the two. This is also a popular boating spot, with a couple boat launches on the lake.

If I had a choice, we would go back to Gold Creek instead of Keechelus. More scenic, better trails, and more picnicking options.

Jul 15, 2006

Gold Creek

Gold Creek is "in" Snoqualmie Pass, just east of the Summit. While I-90 was being built it served as a huge gravel pit. In 1983, after the gravel was used up, the state turned it into a nice park nestled between the highest peaks in Snoqualmie Pass.

Gold Creek has two parts: the trail and the pond. We did not take the trail tonight, but we plan to someday. The pond has a paved trail a mile long that loops it, has a creek that runs by it, is surrounded by beautiful views, and has about a dozen picnic tables in a nice, spacious picnic area on the south side of the pond.

Very family friendly, no elevation gains at the pond. Not a hike, but more of a leisurely stroll. Would like to come back near winter time to see how the snow-covered mountains look up close.

Jul 9, 2006

Twin Falls Hike

We set out this morning for a nice family stroll to Twin Falls to play in the Snoqualmie River, to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, take in a view of the amazing Twin Falls, and get some geocaching in. We accomplished all that on a gorgeous day to boot!

One reason I like the Twin Falls trail is the proximity to the Snoqualmie River. You can literally walk down the river, rest on the rocks, play in the water, refill your canisters with mountain fresh water, even walk to the other side.

The hike is fairly easy, rising and dropping in elevation about 300 feet. The trail is always busy, especially parking at the trailhead south of exit 34 off I-90.

After about 3/4 of a mile, the trail provides a bridge overlooking the twin falls area, which, you guessed it, consists of back-to-back falls that empty into the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. Beyond the falls, the trail goes a couple more miles and hooks up with the infamous John Wayne Trail. We didn't go that far today, but we did go about a half mile past the falls in hunt of a cache. No luck, though.

This is a very family friendly trail, mentioned in Best Hikes with Kids in Western Washington, and seems to be pretty popular with dog owners.

Jul 4, 2006

Rattlesnake Ridge

Rattlesnake Ridge, Mountain, Ledge... whatever it's really called, is the large mountain on the south side of I-90 between exits 27 and 32. Rattlesnake Trail is an 11 mile long trail, one way, between the old Snoqualmie Winery off exit 27 and Rattlesnake Lake off exit 32.

We have yet to take on Rattlesnake Mountain - Amy and I are waiting for a time when we can tackle this ourselves. However, we have started from the Winery and trekked up a couple miles to the first great viewpoint (shown in the pictures below). This is a fun hike, taking one through different types of forest (dense to sparse, wet to dry, dirt to rock). There's even a nice stream along the way ripe with water suitable for refilling your water bottle. Not sure of the elevation change, but I venture its 800-1000 feet to the first viewpoint.

When we finally get the opportunity to tackle this end-to-end, I'll post the details and the pics.

Tiger Mountain - Tradition Lake

Tiger Mountain is the ominous mountain just beyond Issaquah as you head east on I-90 from Seattle. Home to a number of hiking trails, it has a nice, level set of trails on the west side of the park that are family friendly. Circling Tradition Lake, these trails give kids plenty to do. There's even a rusted out school bus just off, what else, "Bus Trail." So far, this has been our favorite hiking for the kids.

To get there, take I-90 to exit 20. The entrance to the trailhead is on the south side of the expressway. Turn right into the entrance, and head up to the parking lot next to the trailhead. Tiger Mountain is usually busy on weekends; on more than one occasion the lot has been full.

It occurs to me that while these trails are great for family exercise and interesting the kids... we have no pictures despite several visits! Will have to make sure we get some next time we are there.

Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls is located close to the Summit of Snoqualmie Pass, and is actually situated between the west- and east-bound lanes of I-90. We did not take the 2 mile round trip hike today, instead we chose to park close to the falls, grab a cache and head to the falls.

I can see why this generates so much discussion. Gorgeous falls, and being at the bottom of the falls is always more fun and impressive than being at the top (although hiking to the top is definitely fun). The extra snowfall this past winter has resulted in a significant, noticable increase in water flowing from the Cascades, and Franklin Falls apparently is no different.

The trails are well groomed and run along the river that flows out from the falls. Once you are within a couple hundred feet of the base of the falls, the trail turns into a narrow rock path between a rock wall and the riverbed below. Today, the path was slippery, and due to the shortness of the hike Amy and I both left our hiking boots in the car and just had tennis shoes on. Made us a little nervous and a little extra careful.

When we got to the base, there really was no area to sit down, and the water seemed pretty deep, so we weren't comfortable having the kids wade in there. We didn't stick around long (neither did the family that was hiking just ahead of us). This was our first time here, so I assume that normally there is more area to enjoy due to less water.

We will definitely be back, both to hike the regular trail as well as enjoy the base of the falls.