Oct 14, 2007

Snoqualmie Point Park

This isn't a hike, except that it's very close to the Rattlesnake Mountain Trailhead. But the new Snoqualmie Point Park provides an amazing lookout over the Snoqualmie Valley.

I first came to this location a couple years ago when I heard of the "Old Snoqualmie Winery." At that time it was a cool viewpoint of the Snoqualmie Valley located right off I-90 Exit 27. My understanding was that a large winery existed here at one time but burned down in 1999 and other than clearing out the old buildings, nothing had been done with the land since. Last year when we came up we noticed a ton of construction activity. Today, we took a look and much has been completed although it doesn't look like the park is officially open yet. It has parking, lots of stone landscaping, and a pavilion with amazing views of Mount Si, Teneriffe, Rattlesnake Mountain, Mount Washington, and Snoqualmie Valley. We even caught a great glimpse of Mount Baker today.

I took some pics, but they just don't do the viewpoint justice.

Jun 26, 2007

Cedar Butte

Located between Mount Washington and Rattlesnake Mountain is a small, 900 foot elevation gain mountain called Cedar Butte. Take I-90 Exit 32 to Rattlesnake Lake and park at the Cedar Falls trailhead. A .8 mile walk along the Iron Horse / John Wayne Trail will take you to Boxley Creek; a couple hundred feet beyond that is a marked trail for Cedar Butte.

The trail is groomed, but overgrown to the point where it feels like you're bushwacking in spots. Eventually it opens up in a burned out forest to complete the short, 1.25 mile hike to the summit. From there, you're treated to a nice view of Mailbox Peak and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. Someone has even gone through the trouble of providing benches and seats carved out of woodstumps. Also on the way up you can sneak peeks to Rattlesnake Lake and Ledge, which suprised us how far we had walked from the trailhead!

Mt. Washington - Owl Hike Spot

Our family set out with our neighbors a couple weekends ago to take on part of Mount Washington - a two mile hike to the Mount Washington Owl Hike Spot (with our kids in tow we weren't prepared to take on Mount Washington itself). This was our first hike up Mount Washington.

We parked at the Upper Twin Falls trailhead off I-90, and headed up the steep trail to the Iron Horse / John Wayne Trail. Heading west about 500 feet will take you to the unmarked Mount Washington trailhead. This is a very nice trail that meanders steeply upward through a lot of rock formations and trails. Occasionally you will get a glimpse of the Cascades through the trees, but generally there isn't a good lookout until you get to the Owl Hike Spot. The trail itself is a little rough - it is mostly small (about the size of a softball) rocks, which after 4 miles of hiking ends up being hard on the knees and ankles.

After two miles and a 1600 foot elevation gain, you will find yourself at the Owl Hike Spot with an amazing view of North Bend, Rattlesnake Mountain and Ledge, Snoqualmie, and Snoqualmie Ridge. The trail continues on to the top of Mount Washington (another four miles), but we didn't give that a try that day.

Books will label this as a challenge to kids, but they tackled it with a couple rests on the way up. There was also an amazing cave that rock climbers use for advance rock climbing. The kids (even my two year old, much to my surprise and worry) were able to scramble up it and have fun in the cave.

May 12, 2007

Hiking Little Si

Our first hike of the year was Little Si today. We tried to do this about a month ago, and were turned back simply because of lack of parking! This morning we fared a little better, finding parking down the road from the main parking lot.

It was a nice day today for a hike - a little hazy, some clouds, and a little chilly when the breeze hit, but for Seattle weather I'll take it.

Little Si is a 5 mile round trip, 1500 foot elevation gain hike that takes you to the top of Little Si, Mount Si's little brother to the south. There is a large dose of rocks on the trail. When you're not climbing rocks directly the trail is about 50/50 rock and dirt. Makes it fun for the kids who imagine themselves rock climbing.

Serious rock climbers will veer off the trail about a mile in, and scale the northeast wall of Little Si. Hikers continue around to the west side of Little Si and make their way up.

Those that make it to the top are treating to wonderful views of Mount Si as well as expansive views of Snoqualmie Valley, especially Rattlesnake Mountain, Cedar Butte, and Mount Washington.

This is a family friendly hike. Our six year old has done this twice now, without a problem, and our two year old scrambled most of the way up the initial trail up and walked halfway down before peetering out.

Mar 20, 2007

Tolt McDonald Park

Been a while since I posted something. Not that I haven't been enjoying the Snoqualmie Valley and Cascades, but I just haven't done much "new" in a while. I changed that today by taking my mountain bike to the Tolt McDonald Park in Southwestern Carnation (formerly Tolt). Carnation is on the north side of the valley, a small town east of Redmond. Actually, given its proximity to Redmond and the lack of space to build homes here on the east side, I'm surprised Carnation is still a small town.

Anyway, I've heard that Told McDonald had the best mountain biking in the area. I'm not an expert, so I can't compare, but I had a blast this afternoon. Long, winding, bouncing, switchbacking trails made for some white knuckles and a fun afternoon, despite the cold and the rain.

You can access the park off 203 - turn west at the signs for the park, just south of downtown Carnation. Take the road all the way to the end, park, and take your bike across the bridge. Head up the hill, and you'll find a few trails in the area. I didn't take them all, obviously, and a few of them were obstructed with downed trees.

The trails are suitable for hiking as well, and I will bring the family back someday. There are also a number of caches in the area. I found the one that was on the trail I was taking. :)

I highly recommend this park. I didn't see anyone out today, but I assume that was due to the weather and it being a weekday.