We have been living in France for nine months now, and during this time the majority of my posts have focused on our European adventures. However, this post about some great hikes, has been sitting in my drafts folder for a long time, and has recently been calling to me. Most of these are on the west coast of the USA, but I have included another favorite as well.
theTravelsketcher and I have taken some pretty amazing hikes in our 35 years together. I love (or loved) a tough hike and the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction I felt when I had conquered a difficult trail. That feeling when you can finally see the trailhead after a long, hard climb is just thrilling. I was a weekend warrior, and my knees are now constantly reminding me of that fact.
Anyway, here are a few of my favorite hikes.
1. Heather Lake located in Western Washington State is a 4.2 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet. The lake is located in a basin and offers stunning views of Mt. Pilchuck.
2. Lake Dorothy, also in Washington State, is one of the first hikes we took together after we were married. This 9 mile round trip trail with 2,000 feet elevation gain is rated as a difficult hike, but the lake is beautiful and well worth the effort. When we first hiked this trail, we planned to stay for the afternoon. The area seemed to be deserted as we were setting up our picnic spot. However, when we opened a bottle of wine, and the pop of the cork echoed through the silence, several heads snapped up and looked in our direction. One man said “you can’t open a bottle of wine here without people noticing!”
3. Mount Catherine, Snoqualmie Pass, Washington State. We hiked this trail a few years ago with my sister and her family. You’ll climb 1,330 feet in just 1.5 miles, so it’s not for everyone, but it offers stunning views of the area at the top.
4. Gold Creek Pond also on Snoqualmie Pass is a gentle, level ramble that is wheelchair friendly.
5. Cascade Loop Trail, Orcas Island, Washington State, is an easy 3 mile hike around a pretty lake in the interior of the island.
6. Big Gulch Trail, Mukilteo, Washington State is a 2.6 mile loop with an elevation gain of 300 feet. We usually start on the South Fork Trail. This trail meanders along a steam with a variety of flowers, berries and old growth trees to see.
7. Mt. Galiano, Galiano Island, BC, Canada, is a 3.5 mile moderately difficult hike, offering spectacular views at the top and an abundance of soaring eagles.
8. Watchman Peak, at Crater Lake, Oregon, a short, but steep hike that ends at a fire watch tower. The views at the top are stunning!
9. Paulina Lake Loop Trail, not far from Sunriver, Oregon, is a 6.7 mile hike that is mostly flat and offers nice views of the lake and surrounding area. I hiked this trail with friends over ten years ago. We stopped for a picnic at the halfway point and we’re joined by a cute little chipmunk.
10. Golden Canyon in Death Valley, California, is an intense and challenging hike that starts off through a narrow canyon, and leads up a steep hill where the path cuts right into the side of the rock wall. A narrow trail along the side of the wall eventually leads down through some steep, rocky ledges and opens up onto what looks like an old, dry riverbed filled with large, loose stones. The trail eventually opens up at the base of the mountain. It was about another mile to get back to the trailhead. You can read more about this hike here. This hike isn’t for everyone, but it was one of the more memorable ones we have taken.
11. Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail in Joshua Tree National Park, also in California, was another highlight for us. This 3 mile round trip trail takes you to a secluded oasis with a stream. It was a hot day when we took this hike, and on several occasions when we caught a glimpse of the oasis in the distance, I was beginning to think it was a mirage.
12. Loch Brora in Northern Scotland is another favorite that we took while staying with friends who live in the area. This 3 mile relatively flat trail is a nice stroll to a stunning loch.
I have just barely scratched the surface here with a few of my favorite hikes, there are many more to choose from.
Sadly, we are no longer able to tackle a hike with a good amount of elevation gain. We can climb up, but the descent is a killer. Just climbing down from the Acropolis in Greece had my knees screaming in protest! However, we keep moving and enjoy easier hikes with less elevation gain. We have very fond memories of some amazingly beautiful locations we have visited, even if our knees remind us daily of their discomfort.
I look forward to hearing from you about your favorite hikes, no matter where they are located.