- December 2, 2019
- Posted by: Taylor Shimizu
- Category: Blog, Health & Wellness, Lifestyle
The final five hikes were tough ones! As the year goes on and even from last year finding hikes that I’ve never done gets harder and harder. These ones were awesome hikes hiding right under my nose and ones that have been on my bucket list to do. I was able to do these five between Mid-September through beginning November; still prime hiking weather! Fall hiking is definitely a fun time with all the leaves changing colors, snow on the mountains, and more wildlife!
Hike 16: Snoqualmie Mountain (6 miles)
Drive to the same parking lot as Snow Lake; a very popular trail so make sure you leave early so you can get a spot. Make sure you have your Northwest Forest Pass out—they do ticket here. Right next to the rangers/right before the Snow Lake trailhead there is a little trail–this is the start to Guye Peak. Follow the trail for Guye Peak, this trail is unmaintained so be careful and watch for downed trees/branches. The trail winds up steeply, with a lot of scrambling over tree trunks, branches, and rocks. The trail climbs at a pretty steep incline so it was nice having hiking poles handy. We thought we were hiking to Guye Peak, but there was no sign or turn off to head to the way less steep trail. So we kept climbing until we reached the very top of the mountain. Once at the top of the mountain, on a sunny day you can see views of Rainier, Glacier Peak and many other peaks around the Snoqualmie region. As for the descent down—be very careful as there’s lots of gravel and loose rocks. I fell at least 5 times coming down and it was not fun landing on sharp rocks so please watch your footing and steps. Overall this hike was a stair stepper, but totally worth the views! Hike #16–6 miles
Hike 17: Tolmie Peak to Eunice Lake/Mowich Lake (8 miles)
This hike has been on my to-do list for a long time and I finally was able to get here! Tolmie Peak is located inside Mt Rainier National Park so you’ll need a National Park Pass, and parking can be a bit tight but you can park along side the road. Think about a high clearance car, there are potholes along the road to the trailhead. The trail is easily marked and starts as a nice walk by Mowich Lake. The beautiful blue water is mesmerizing! Continue down the trail and into the forest and to Isput Pass–hang a left at the pass towards Eunice Lake. A lot of people will stop here for lunch but the real views are up above the lake. Continue past the lake for the final mile climb up to Tolmie Peak. Once at the top there’s a lookout you can climb and get an amazing picture of Mt Rainier with the glistening blue waters of Eunice Lake below. Most people will stop here and have lunch below the lookout, but if you continue along the peak there’s a couple more smaller peaks that have even better viewpoints of Mt Rainier. Overall this hike was worth going to and worth it for a sunny day just for the beauty of Rainier and the beautiful lakes. Hike #17: 8 miles
Hike 18: Sauer’s Mountain (6 miles)
This hidden hike out near Leavenworth is a great little 6 mile hike, but be aware that the trail is on private property so if you see the property owner please thank them for opening and creating a parking lot for us hikers to use. No pass is needed but be sure to clean up and take extra care of the trail! The trail begins with fun totems, carved trees, and fun art pieces as you begin climbing the hillside. Lots of wildflowers, grape wineries, and trees to look at while climbing; depending on the season you can see lots of fall colors! As you climb further upward and wrap around the hillside you’ll see views of the Wenatchee River Valley, the various mountain and valley peaks, and Icicle Ridge (the Enchantments) just on the other side. You’ll reach different trail markets, marking half mile points to keep track of your distance. You’’ cross into the National Forest Land—be aware there could be rattlesnakes around so keep your ears open. Find the wooden sign at the top where you can see multiple other summits and look out across the valley/ridge line. A great spot to have lunch, a quick snack, or a water break then head back to the car! A quick 6 miles! Hike #18–6 miles
Hike 19: Margaret Lake (6 miles)
Another hike hiding in plain sight was Margaret Lake! Just right off of exit 54 Hyak off I-90, follow the road towards Gold Creek. You’re driving parallel with the freeway until the road becomes a dirt path and then continue following the road until you see a parking area on the left for Margaret Lake. You do need a Northwest Forest Pass for this hike. Go out of the parking lot and hang a left, go up the road about a quarter mile until you see a sign on the left; you’ll pass through an old, rusty gate, or the remains of an old rusty gate where the trail widens. This trail isn’t heavily trafficked which makes it so nice to hike on! Continue on the trail through the forest; a nice steady climb! Be on the lookout for snow! This was our first snowy hike so we made sure we had hiking poles with us, they helped with traction for sure! You reach a fork at about 2 miles; turn right and head down towards the lake. At this point there was a good foot of snow so we knew coming up was going to be fun! Follow to the bottom of the path, there will be a big pond—go past the pond, some people thought that was the lake. There will be a log bridge to cross and then finally you arrive at Margaret Lake. Not many places to sit and have lunch because of the snow so we visited with the birds! The birds were very friendly and even came to sit on our hands. As you head back on the trail and back to your car you’ll have some nice views of Rainier! A great snowy 6 mile hike! Hike #19–6 miles
Hike 20: Bandera Mountain (8 miles)
The final hike of my 20 needed to be a good one, so why not climb another mountain and one that I’ve always wanted to do, but in the snow! Another hike just off of I-90 shares the same trailhead for Ira Spring Trail. Go right off the freeway and follow the one lane dirt road up 3-4 miles, but be careful of potholes. My Honda Civic made it up just fine! You’ll once again need a Northwest Forest Pass, best to buy one for the whole year! We got up to the trailhead by 7:30am and only a few cars were in the parking lot; this trail is known for being super busy so getting an early start is a must! The start of the trail is pretty easygoing and wide; you’ll come across a waterfall and a footbridge. Continue you past and head more into the foothills with switchbacks, a meadow, and a little boulder field. You reach a fork in the path; go left towards Mason Lake or continue straight for Bandera Mountain. We went straight and this is where you begin the steep climb to the top. The snow was a lot thicker here, and we were just free rock climbing up the mountain. With all the snow it was hard to see other people’s trails, but you’d find some and then make your way up. You get to bigger boulders at the top that you must cross over to reach the real summit—there’s a couple false summits. Hiking poles were a must have to help with balance and stability coming down! The clouds parted a bit for us on our way down with views of a giant lake! A hard, steep 8 miles to finish out the year! Hike #20–8 miles
Final got through 20 hikes and 150 miles in 2019! Final mile count was 160! Happy to have accomplished this goal and ready to make a new hiking goal for 2020. Stay tuned for the Hiking 2019 Round Up and see just how many mountains I conquered this year and which hikes were my favorite! I’ll even include my 2020 goal too!
This is part of a series on hikes in the Pacific Northwest. Read the entire series here.