7.7 miles round trip / 1167′ elevation gain
The rainy season has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, but that hasn’t stop me from hitting the trails. A friend from the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women Group asked if I’d like to join her on another mid-week hike, and I was thankful for the invitation. I headed towards the Iron Goat Trail anticipating a rainy trek even though the sun was trying to make its’ way into Seattle as I left. As I made my way towards Stevens Pass the weather turned to cloudy and rainy. My friend and I met in a completely empty parking lot with a slight break in the weather including hints of sunshine peaking through the clouds. The two of us weren’t fooled by the temptation of the sun and hit the trails wearing a final layer of wet weather gear.
After taking a class at REI last week learning to identify chanterelle mushrooms in the wild, I was excited to test my knowledge in the field. The conditions were perfect for mushroom hunting in Washington, and they were everywhere! Unfortunately, I didn’t find any chanterelles, but I did had a fun time trying.
We started our hike at the Martin Creek trail head making our way east along the lower grade. The pathway is wide, winding is way through the mossy forest. At times the warm colors of fall leaves blanketed the landscape.
After about 3 miles of hiking we arrived at another trail head and parking lot with a bright red restored railway car. We took a quick break and enjoyed reading about the history of the area on the posted interpretative signs and maps.
From this parking lot we took the Upper Loop Trail towards Windy Point. This section of the trail is much more primitive than the lower grade. It steeply climbs upwards, switching back and forth through the tress with their roots jutting out in every direction. By this time the rain had become steady, making the trail very muddy. After about a mile, the trail meets the upper grade where we chose to take the 1/4 mile journey making a right towards Windy Point viewpoint.
We took shelter from the rain inside a tunnel where we enjoyed lunch in a dry space. Several tunnels can be seen along the trail with signs warning hikers not to travel too far inside. The two of us made sure to pay attention to the signs only hiking in allowed areas.
We decided we didn’t have the time to hike the additional 3 miles and back to visit the Wellington Avalanche Disaster site. The two of us hiked back towards the trail head, this time taking the upper grade section of the trail. This portion of the path follows the remains of the railroad more closely, where at times the snow bridges become the trail itself.
The steady rain continued during last few miles of our hike creating large puddles in the middle of the pathway. I felt like a kid splashing my way down the trail, happy that I didn’t let the weather keep me from exploring the outdoors. I enjoyed photographing nature along the way with my new waterproof camera, not letting the weather get in the way of my art as well. It was fun to compare photographic shots with my hiking partner who also enjoys nature photography as she hikes.
As I reached the parking lot completely soaked from head to toe, I had learned a few lessons: 1. Get better wet weather gear! 2. Always have a clean, dry pair of clothes in the car for the drive home. 3. I will never let the rain keep me from going outside. I was so cold on my drive home that I stopped in Monroe to buy a sweater and a hot latte. By the time I reached Seattle that afternoon, the skies had opened up once more leaving the rain in the mountains behind me.
5.4 miles round trip / 1350′ elevation gain
This fall has been a great hiking season in the Pacific Northwest with incredible weather throughout September. I was excited when a friend contacted me about a mid-week hike to Lake 22 last month. She and I met through the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women Group, which has been a great resource for meeting women who love the outdoors.
I left Seattle early in the morning and discovered how much I enjoy hiking mid-week. The highways were wide open as I headed north, with gridlocked traffic travelling in the opposite direction. In no time, I arrived to a mostly empty parking lot just as my hiking partner arrived. We layered up and hit the trail with a cool, crisp chill in the air anticipating to warm up quickly from the uphill hike.
The trail to the lake slowly climbs its’ way up into the forest switching back and forth through the trees. Once the trail crosses Twentytwo Creek, it continues alongside it with the sounds of rushing water always in the near distance. With several creek crossings along the way, many little waterfalls can often be seen and heard. At times the trail is taken over by the large tree roots jetting out from the sides. One long section of the trail crosses a large scree field and opens up to wide views of the valley below. It seemed like out of nowhere, Lake 22 appeared right in front of us dominating the landscape.
The two of us made our way along the shoreline of Lake 22 following the well maintained trails and boardwalks. After seeing a pika warning us to stay away from the the boulders below Mount Pilchuck, we found a shady spot nearby to rest and enjoy a quick snack. My hiking partner and I both enjoy nature and wildlife photography, so we had our cameras equipped and ready to shoot as we snacked and shared hiking stories by the lake shore. As we continued along down the trail, the sun was sparkling in the reflection of the lake waters.
Although we were virtually alone during the hike up to Lake 22, the trail was packed with fellow hikers as we made our way back down. With camera in hand, we stopped at each creek crossing hoping to get shots of the rushing waters we could hear in the distance. Unfortunately, many of the waterfalls are just out of reach for a good photograph, so mostly only mental pictures were taken.
We arrived to a very full parking lot in the early afternoon. I was happy to have enjoyed another beautiful day in the PNW with a new friend. With similar hiking styles and good conversation, I left hoping that this would our first of many adventures together.
2 days, 1 night / 10+ miles round trip / <100′ elevation gain
After making reservations for one night at Goldmyer Springs several months ago, I was so excited the time was finally here. I was also so happy to have the chance to share another backpacking experience with several friends – two friends backpacking for their first time ever!
Our day started by waking up just as the sun was rising over Seattle. After my husband and I loaded our car we picked up two friends and headed to North Bend to meet the other four members of our group. We had a quick breakfast and packed up on the last few items and headed down Middle Fork Road towards the trailhead. After a long, slow trip down the heavily potholed road, we arrived at the Dingford Trailhead parking lot filled with anticipation for the day ahead.
Since several members of our group were fairly new to backpacking we decided to take the easier route to Goldmyer Springs. After reading trip reports about the more rugged Middle Fork Trail, as a group we chose to take the trail along the old NF Road 5620 along the thundering Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Not long after we started our hike, the trail crosses the river as it tumbles down a powerful waterfall which can be heard long before it’s seen.
The trail along old Forest Road is an easy hike as it winds its way through the forest. It was a great opportunity to get to know new friends and share hiking stories as we made our way towards Goldmyer Springs. At times the trail is wide and flat, but evidence of years of erosion can be seen during other sections of the trail. At one point, the trail is completely flooded and we took a detour along small footpath through the forest.
We snacked on ripened salmonberries speckled in every bush beside the trail and enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the flowing river and chirping birds.
It wasn’t long before we were crossing the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River once again and finally on the last stretch of our journey. After crossing the Middle Fork Trail, we headed uphill along the Goldmyer Springs Trail filled with excitement. As we arrived, we rang a bell as the sign beside it requested for all guests arriving and leaving the Goldmyer Springs campground. After a brief meeting with the caretakers, our group found two great campsites along Burntboot Creek. This was the best wilderness backpacking camping area we have stayed at to date! Each site had several logs for sitting and tables provided, and the backcountry toilet was private and clean. With the relief of taking off our packs, we enjoyed lunch as a group and then quickly set up camp with the anticipation of soaking our aching muscles in the hot springs.
It wasn’t long before we had our swimsuits on and headed up the 3/4 mile trail towards the hot springs. We quickly learned that proper footwear is best for this short, but steep and rocky hike along Burntboot Creek. As we arrived at the hot springs, the upper part of the springs and the cave was packed with another group. Our group of eight piled into the lower pool, happy to soak our aching bodies in the hot springs. Thankfully we are all close friends, because it was very close quarters.
After a very long soak in the lower pool of the hot springs, I explored the upper pool and cave. It was very dark and a little creepy going into the cave as far as I could go. It was also very hot, which only allowed me to stay a few minutes before I was ready to get back into the lower and much cooler pool. One by one our group left the hot springs after a few hours of soaking. Before heading back to camp, my husband and I spent a little time exploring the rocky area alongside Burntboot Creek. The rushing sound of the tumbling creek was powerful.
We let the warmth of the sun dry us off, and then made our way back down to camp. This was our first time backpacking with a large group, and each couple decided to take on cooking one meal for everyone. My husband and I were in charge of dinner that night, and were happy to take on the role of chefs. Because we only had to pack for one meal, we were able to bring luxury items we normally wouldn’t bring. The warm soup and sandwiches hit the spot during the cool evening hours. Once dinner was over, one by one our group disappeared into their tents before the sun even set.
The next morning we woke to a bright sun trying to make its’ way into the valley. After a quick breakfast, we broke down camp and prepared for our hike out. As we rang the bell saying goodbye to the caretakers, it was hard to leave this little piece of paradise in the wilderness. It was a perfect sunny day in the Pacific Northwest for a hike. The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River was a beautiful backdrop as we hiked along listening to its’ rushing waters.
In no time we were back at the trailhead, happy to take off our heavy packs for the last time. It was another great trip in the WA wilderness with great friends. As usual, it was hard to leave the solitude of the forest, but I know that I will be back soon.
8.2 miles round trip / 2000+ elevation gain
I belong to several different hiking groups on multiple social media sites. I love sharing my trip reports and photographs, but have never joined any of the groups in an actual event. I finally decided to join a group of ladies from the PNW Outdoor Women’s Group on Facebook in a day hike to Lake Serene.
Our day started as a group meeting at Sultan Bakery, which was a great stop for coffee, pastries, and sandwiches for a trail lunch. After a short drive from the bakery, we arrived at an almost full parking lot around 11:00 am. We loaded our packs making sure to have the ten essentials and hit the trail.
The trail starts off as a wide dirt path with a slight incline climbing through the forest. This section of the trail was perfect for getting to know new friends as we shared hiking stories along the way. Several bushes beside the trail were full of ripe berries to snack on. After the first mile, the trail begins to narrow and climb higher into the forest. At nearly two miles, we reached the sign splitting the trail to either Bridal Veil Falls or continuing up to Lake Serene. After discussion about previous trip reports, we decided to visit the falls before we headed up the the lake. The hike up to Bridal Veil Falls is a short but tough 1/2 mile journey.
As a group we took turns taking photographs of the waterfall and enjoying the cool mist on our warm faces. After a short break alongside the waterfall, we were excited to head back down to the main trail and continue our hike towards Lake Serene. Shortly after we got back onto the main trail we crossed the base of the waterfall. It was a great spot for capturing images from a different view and resting before the toughest part of the hike. Several other hikers were resting here as well and some were even cooling their bare feet in the shallow waters.
For me, this was a pretty tough hike. The trail switches back and forth through the forest and becomes more and more narrow and rocky. The group was great about waiting on each other and being supportive through the more steeper parts of the trail. The number of stairs seemed endless as we climbed higher and higher towards our final destination.
I also loved the many boardwalks and bridges!
We encountered many other hikers along the way; each one reassuring us the journey was worth it. After what seemed like forever, we reached our final destination – Lake Serene! Views of the lake were the perfect backdrop to a picnic lunch.
After a much needed rest and refueling, it was time to leave the beauty of the lake behind us, and hit the trail once again. As we made our way down towards the trailhead, we stopped at times to enjoy the views of the valley down below.
Time flew by quickly as we hiked down towards the beginning of the trail enjoying the company of new friends. After what seemed like no time, our group hike had come to an end. With a round of high fives we said our goodbyes and loaded our cars for the drive home. My first experience sharing a hike with strangers has me excited to do it again soon. It was another perfect day surrounded by nature in the Pacific Northwest.