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lily3 Mar 9th, 2006 02:50 PM

Mt Rainier daytrip and Orcas Island questions
We're planning a week (8-9 days) in the Seattle area in July or August. Will spend 3-4 days in the city, then would like to take a day trip to Mount Rainier. Can't decide whether or not to stay overnight. We're not super serious hikers, but would like to do some trails, and soak up the scenery. I was leaning towards an overnight, but since that would involve advance booking a hotel room, we'd have to prepick the day and may be stuck with a rainy or cloudy day! If we just did a day trip, we could wait for a clear day and then seize the moment!. We'd rent a car and leave early so as to have a full day. What are your thoughts?
We were then planning on spending 3 nights on Orcas Island. I've read past posts, but any recent opinions on best place to stay? Spring Bay Inn sounds wonderful - but is it a little isolated? Places to eat in the area - or would you have to drive far for dinner? Also looking at Inn at Ship's Bay, Cayou Cove. Thanks!

Gardyloo Mar 9th, 2006 03:03 PM

Definitely the day trip alternative for Mt Rainier. Remember too that daylight hours are long and you can get a very early start if you want. Plus Paradise Lodge is closed for remodeling, so facilities on the mountain are limited.

Not a huge fan of Orcas so can't help you there.

christy1 Mar 9th, 2006 09:19 PM

Orcas: Most of the restaurants are in Eastsound, right in the middle of the island, and Spring Bay is near Olga...that can't be more than 20 minutes away. The scenery is so pretty you might not mind the drive at all.

A long day at Rainier might be fine for you. I'm a big Rainier fan and would normally say the more time there the better (it would be nice if you had time to see Paradise AND Sunrise as well as stop at Ohanapecosh) but as Gardyloo pointed out there is the problem of lodging-with the Paradise Inn closed, you either have to leave the park or stay at Longmire. I wouldn't worry about bad weather ruining your plans in July and August, though-the weather is pretty reliably nice. But, I suppose you never know for sure.

lily3 Mar 10th, 2006 04:46 AM

Thanks for the replies! I think we'll do the day trip to Rainier without the overnight. If we leave early and come back late, will we have time to do some hikes around Paradise, the Grove of Patriarch's trail, and drive up to Sunrise to look around, before having to leave? Also, what are some good hikes near Sunrise? Would you do the Skyline Trail, or a couple of shorter ones?
Gardyloo, curious about why you don't like Orcas. I know you've said that before, and that Lopez is your favorite - but most others seem to love Orcas!I thought Orcas was the most scenic? Is it more touristy and crowded than the others? We're only going to one island, so really want to choose the right one!

Gardyloo Mar 10th, 2006 06:50 AM

lily3, it's just a personal thing. I'm not crazy about the overall "vibe" of the San Juans altogether and my reasons would likely be seen by some as silly (and I could be accused - rightly - of stereotyping.) Mainly "people" issues rather than physical or geographic ones - a sense of everything being a little precious, a little too politically correct, llama farmers next to Microsoft Millionaires' second homes... have I offended anyone yet? So I tend to shut up and say, "that's nice," rather than get into it.

Orcas has a lot of things going for it - decent hills, nice bays - it's bigger so there's more diversity than some of the other major islands. Go and have a great time and make up your own mind.

christy1 Mar 10th, 2006 08:25 AM

I think your Rainier day is doable. If you are renting a car just for that day be sure to pick it up the night before you you can leave early. Hopefully you can go on a weekday-weekends will be mobbed. Don't try to make it back to Seattle for dinner-eat somewhere outside the park and let evening traffic in the metro area die down. Both the Greenwater Cafe and Naches Tavern (in Greenwater as well) are good choices for burgers and the like-they are favorite stops for hikers on the way home and kind of funky places but in a good way (I think). If you are exiting via Paradise you can find food in Ashford or Enumclaw.

The Skyline Trail is a good choice, since it's just long enough so that you will get away from some of the crowds near the visitor's center. If you choose shorter trails you'll never escape them. Also there are amazing views on that trail.
At Sunrise, there is a perfectly nice mile long Sourdough Nature Trail-it's short and there are great views. Or, still under 3 miles when you start a little before the Sunrise Visitor's Center, Dege Peak is a good one:
Bring bug spray. They may not be bad but you don't want to chance it.

bethnw Mar 21st, 2006 12:53 AM

The inn at Longmire is convient to several great trails. I really love the Ramparts Ridge trail. It's kind of a steep, switchback trail but since you said you're serious hikers you should be okay. If you do take that trail, there is a spot where you can work your way through a few branches for an amazing view!

hpl Apr 12th, 2006 08:19 AM

We love Spring Bay Inn and have been several times. Yes it is slightly "isolated" but we really like that. However (as noted before), it's still a small island. The drive from Spring Bay to Eastsound is less than 30 minutes and it's a very pleasant drive. We don't mind the distance at all.

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