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Planning Quandry/ Mt. Rainier and ......

Old Jul 19th, 2009, 04:55 PM
  #1  
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Planning Quandry/ Mt. Rainier and ......

A group of four North Carolina couples (50-60 all fit) are considering a hiking trip to Washington. I am struggling to develop a good itinerary which will have us hiking more and sitting in cars less.
Option I
leave SEATAC and drive to Rainier. Hike for four days. Mt. St. Helen's for day hike. Two nights somewhere on the Hood Canal. Seattle for last night.
Option II
Spend first night in Seattle. Drive to Rainier. Hike for three days. Go to Whidbey Island for two day. Seattle for last night.
Option III
SEATAC to Rainier. Hike for three days. Go to Klaloch for three days. Last night Seattle.

We are open to other suggestions. One of our big concerns is that there will be only limited "moderate" hiking at Rainier. We are not technical climbers and would not attempt anything classified as strenuous. If there is enough hiking to keep us busy for six days, we would be happy to simply stay in the Rainier area.

We are considering either Paradise Lodge/Alexanders or Wellspring Cabins for our Rainier stay. I welcome suggestions.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 05:01 PM
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I'm partial to Whidbey, so I'd vote for option II. You could drive around across Deception Pass on the way back and have a hike off the Mountain Loop Highway (Granite Falls area, Snohomish Co.).
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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I'm partial to the North Cascades for hiking. If you can, include a trip to Stehekin at the north end of Lake Chelan, there's great hiking up there and you can hike in or out one way from the North Cascades highway if you have at least 2 cars.

When would the trip be? That will affect where you opt to hike.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 05:27 PM
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I would lean towards Olympic NP as perhaps the best moderate hiking; you have both mountains and coast options. I'm not sure I would choose Mt Rainier as a primary hiking destination, though there are certainly quite a few hikes you could choose from with a little driving to the trailheads.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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The trip would probably be in late August or early Sept 2010.

Thank you all for your suggestions. I appreciate it.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 08:34 PM
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There are plenty of moderate day hikes to keep you busy at Rainier. In terms of mountain scenery, it doesn't get much better than Rainier. I'd highly recommend this hiking book--it's a classic:
http://www.amazon.com/Hikes-Mount-Ra.../dp/0898861756

Trailheads are spread out throughout the park--there are great hikes from the end of Mowich Lake Road, in the NW corner, in the Paradise and Sunrise areas, and along the highway that circumnavigates the park.

Whidbey Island doesn't have much in the way of real hikes. There are a few short ones and walks at Ebey's Landing and Deception Pass. I wouldn't recommend Hood Canal as a hiking base either. There are indeed hikes there on the eastern Olympic Peninsula, and there are some good ones, but they are not the best in WA. Kalaloch is a beautiful beach but again, if hiking is the primary goal, there's not many options there. If you wanted to hike on the coast I'd recommend the Cave Alava-Sand Point Loop, near Lake Ozette.

The North Cascades are also wonderful but I think you'll end up doing more driving there. Olympic National Park is great for its diversity--rain forest, ocean, and mountains. You could easily spend a hiking vacation there. If you did that, stick to the north half of the park to keep driving down.

(This advice is based on what most hikers I know consider a moderate hike--6-9 miles, 2000-3000' elevation gain.)
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:41 AM
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Thank you, Christy1, for your very comprehensive advice. It is helpful. You reassure me there will be more than enough to keep us busy at Rainier. Are you familiar with
Wellspring Cabins
Stormking Cabins
http://www.almostparadiselodging.com/woodland.php
http://greatgetaways.com/skycabin/index.html?
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 07:51 AM
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Sorry, no. Did you check tripadvisor.com for reviews?
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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I did check T/A. Just took a chance you might know about them.

Thanks for your suggestions, you were very helpful.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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mms
 
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I agree with the others, skip Hood Canal and Whidbey. Not enough for what you are looking for. ONP has so many options. I echo the suggestions for the Capa Alava loop. Just be sure to check the tide tables so you are not on the beach at or near high tide. I do hope you can fit in Mt. St. Helens though. It is an amazing sight.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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Thanks, mms. I am pretty sure we will go to Mt. St. Helen's. DH and I haven't been since 1988 and we are very curious to see the changes.

I will check out Capa Alava loop!
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:36 PM
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cmcfong--A lot of people wear their sneakers on the Cape Alava loop, but we much prefer our hiking boots. Sneakers are too slippery on the boardwalk, IMO. You will see a huge difference in the area around Mt. St. Helens since your last trip there! It was so baren for so long, then it seemed like suddenly there was a bit of vegetation again. I am constantly amazed at the changes.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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I found some very good information on the suggested hikes on the Washington Trails Association pages. Thank you!
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:45 PM
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Sorry, mms, I didn't see your posting till mine was up. thanks for the tip about the shoes. I tend to prefer my hiking boots to sneakers,especially in damp conditions.
I expect the changes will flabbergast and reassure us. Amazing how quickly nature recovers.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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The WTA site is great! I always look at recent trip reports there to see if there's something I should know (ie a bridge is out, bugs are terrible, etc).
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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I'm heading to Rainier and Olympic NP in a few days (I live in Mich, but visit Washington often). I check out both the wta.org site, and nwhikers.net.

My first thought for the second part was N. Cascades NP (I love the Cascades Pass hike), but I agree Olympic is wonderful and has a great deal of diversity. On the west side you have both coastal hikes, and Ho or Quinault rainforest areas. If time allows, I think Hurricane Ridge out of Port Angeles is fantastic, with some of the most beautiful views ever.

No matter where you choose, you'll have a great time.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 04:26 PM
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mms
 
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I agree, WTA is great. Another board that has some good info is www.nwhikers.net.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 06:49 PM
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Rickandpat, please post a trip report! I will look forward to reading it.

mms, thanks for the nwhikers.net Great site!
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