If the summer of 2020 taught us one thing, it’s that Washington’s outdoor community is rapidly growing. This state has a lot to offer and with more time spent inside, people sought out and valued outdoor activities. I found myself in this situation and spent as much time as I possibly could on the trails. By the end of the summer, I picked up a few habits about being safe and comfortable outdoors that I wish I had known from the beginning. Whether you consider yourself new or experienced to the outdoors, I hope these tips help you prepare for your upcoming adventures. I hope to see you (safely) on the trail this summer 🙂
1. Communication Is Key
During COVID I found myself hiking alone more often. In general, hiking alone can be intimidating and as a female it can be even more nerve-racking. Sharing your location and itinerary with friends is something any hiker should do, whether in a group or solo. Cairn is an app I found extremely helpful and easy to use. It shares your plans with your safety circle, allows you to update them along the way, and shows where previous hikers found cell service if you need it. If you don’t feel like paying $4.99 a month you can keep it simple and send a text to friends with your itinerary. If your trek consists of multiple days, it might be worthwhile splurging for a messaging device that allows you to communicate off-the-grid, such as the Garmin inReach Mini. People knowing your whereabouts is another level of security as you venture out in the woods.
2. Always Have A Back-up Plan
If you’re going on a day hike, pick at least two hikes and rank them. Having more than one option makes for an easy game time decision if plans need to change or you wake up and realize it’s going to rain the entire day. The outdoors can be very unpredictable and having multiple options allows for a quick change in plans instead of canceling your trip.
3. Trail Snacks Are For The Trail
One of things I love about Washington is how accessible some of the trails are. However, some places you want to explore may be a farther drive. I highly recommend stocking your car with food and water to munch on as you drive to the trail and on your way home. It’s important to remember that the food and water you pack for the trail, is for the trail. You don’t want to eat or drink half of your supply before you even get to the trailhead.
4. It’s All About The Layers — And I’m Not Talking About Cake
Some of you may be familiar with this one, but dressing in layers is always a good idea. Things can change while you are out on the trail and you want to be prepared. Even during summer months, I bring a long-sleeve shirt and outer shell. Having the ability to add or shed some layers gives you the flexibility to be comfortable on the trail. Pro tip: On backpacking trips (or day trips), I recommend keeping an extra change of clothes in the car. There is no better feeling than changing into a fresh set of clothes and sandals after a few hours in your hiking boots.
5. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Washington is basically nature’s Disney World. We have three incredible National Parks, the Pacific Coast, the San Juan Islands, Columbia River and much more. Whether you want to rock climb at Vantage or kayak around the San Juan Islands, the options for adventures are endless and I encourage you to take advantage of it. If you decide to check out a new area, Washington Trail Association is a great resource to find trails and information on any passes needed to enter the park.
Now that you’ve got these five easy tips for hiking, here are five easy trails to tackle this spring!
This 2-mile trail on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River leads to a stunning waterfall that flows into a small pool lined with boulders and rocks. It’s got about a 400-foot elevation gain, and requires a Northwest Forest Pass to park.
2. Cedar Butte
The Cedar Butte trail in the North Bend area is a 3.5-mile roundtrip hike with a 900-foot elevation gain and a summit with views of Mailbox Peak and other peaks.
There are bathrooms and picnic tables at the start/end of the hike. You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the lot. Walk past the bathrooms, follow signs to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail / Iron Horse State Park. You’ll cross a small bridge with wire mesh that is next to a creek. Continue farther, and you’ll see the Cedar Butte trail sign on the right pointing into the forested trail. When you make it to the top, look for the rock with the Coast and Geodetic Survey marker.
3. Twin Falls
If you want to go chasing waterfalls, but don’t want a hike that is super strenuous, Twin Falls in North Bend is the hike for you. Located in Olallie State Park, Twin Falls is a waterfall that cuts through a narrow rock canyon before plunging over a final 135-foot drop. It’s a 2.5-mile out and back trail that gives you stunning views of the upper and lower falls. You’ll need a Discover Pass to park here, and there’s a pay station on site.
Teneriffe Falls in North Bend is more of a moderate hike, as it’s a bit longer. It clocks in at just over 5.5 miles round-trip, but the views are worth it — lots of switchbacks, forest and a stunning waterfall. You’ll need a Discover Pass to park here.
This 1.2-mile paved loop trail is perfect for families or those looking for a quick hike while traveling along Interstate 90. Gold Creek Pond is located near Snoqualmie Pass in Kittitas County, but is worth the drive. The trail leads to a crystal clear blue lake surrounded by trees and mountains with Chikamin Peak in the distance. You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park along the road. Happy hiking!