7,149 Miles: Washington

The original purpose of the entire trip was to visit my sister at Blake Island Marine State Park, located in Puget Sound. She got her first ‘real job’, that is, not working at Scout Camp. She worked as a park aide at Blake Island for the summer. We had visited the area in November 2018 (you can find that trip here), and it seems like a nice summer destination for the urban dwellers of the Seattle region. Already having been to Seattle during a relatively low season, I did not want to go to Seattle during the high season, so I planned a loop around the Olympic Peninsula. We would stop at Cape Flattery, go to the Hoh Rain Forest, go to Ruby Beach, and go to the state capital of Olympia.

After she had to go back to work, I had a free day before going to Canada, which I decided to go to Hurricane Ridge, near Port Angeles, where my ferry was going out of the next day. After my Canada trip, I would again have a few days before I had to go to Oregon, so Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helen’s were added to the list.

June 25th

A day spent driving through eastern Washington – which is not at all like lush eastern Washington. However, it still provides great views as one can see. There was not much else this day – I arrived at Manchester State Park, located near Bremerton, WA (home of a large US Naval Base). I picked up my sister from the nearby EPA facility a little later (yeah, it was a weird set-up). Overall, it was a good day with mostly good weather and some good views.

Where I Stayed: Manchester State Park. A nice little urban state park along the coast, it was the site of an ammunition depot during the World Wars.

Views of the Columbia River along I-90.

June 26th

My first full day in Washington. It was a late start as McKenna had to do some stuff, so I went around and checked out some of the historical points of interest in the park.

Foundations of a Gun Battery
Ammo Depot

We then were off to Cape Flattery, the northwestern-most point in the continental United States. It is on the Neah Bay Indian Reservation, so we had to get a tribal activity pass at a gas station. After leaving the main highway, it was some twisty roads the rest of the way. The podcast we were listening to was Dan Carlin talking about the Siege of Münster, making for an interesting car ride. We got to the parking lot and took the trail to the lookout. The lighthouse on the island was nothing special, but we did see some wildlife around the rocks and coves.

An oystercatcher
Cape Flattery – most NW point in the continental US

We then headed to our destination, Bogachiel State Park, just outside of the town of Forks (setting of the Twilight series). I thought the area was covered in poison ivy, but it turned out to be salmonberry. As I am highly allergic to poison ivy, I was freaking out a little bit because it touched my skin. I even went in the shower and rinsed it off to be sure. Leaflets three, let them be…

Where I Stayed: Bogachiel State Park. Named for the Bogachiel River, it is a small state park and the only one in the immediate vicinity. It is a relatively short drive to the Hoh Rain Forest, making it a great stop for two nights.

June 27th

We did get up earlier this morning, as I wanted to secure some parking. Today’s destination was the Hoh Rainforest, where we planned to do some hiking. The Hoh Rainforest is a temperate rainforest, and rated as one of the quietest places in the US, based on the minimal development in the area, the lack of traffic, and the lack of air routes overhead.

My hikers had gotten really wet, so I was forced to wear some tennis shoes. Not ideal, but I survived. It was a good hike. It started with some wildlife sightings, as a deer was along the entrance of the trail. A narrow trail, with quite a bit of traffic, that was along the river, and a bit muddy. We ended up going to what we thought we some falls but was more of a stream. We then walked back and did some of the shorter trails in the area, the Hall of Nature Trail and the Hall of Mosses.

The Hoh River
A temperate rainforest – one of the quietest places in the US

We got back to the car, and we were right to get there early, as the parking lot was completely full. We drove to Forks, where McKenna did some laundry. We then went back to the campground. Overall, a good day, with a visit to a rain forest.

June 28th

A more relaxed morning, we packed up the tent and headed to Ruby Beach. Olympic National Park is very extensive, and this was one of its coastal units. I really wanted to explore some tidal pools, but there were no pools to explore (I would have to wait until I got to Oregon to do that). But it was a nice beach walk, and the first time I have been to the *actual Pacific Ocean* (I’d been to some sounds and bays, but never the real place). The water was cold, and Washington’s mild weather was being very, very mild today (meaning chilly), so the breeze of the ocean made it even chillier.


We then headed into the state capital, Olympia. I have a goal to get a picture of all 50 state capitols, so this was a natural stop. Olympia is not an extremely large city, so there was plenty of parking. The state capitol complex was nice.

Washington State Capitol, Olympia

We then went to Tumwater Falls Park. One of the first areas of settlement in the area due to the potential of water-powered mills, it is now a popular local spot. Several small waterfalls highlight the cascading river, and salmon runs run alongside it. It did look like the area could be the sight of some illicit activities, and appeared to be in a rougher neighborhood.

Tumwater Falls Salmon Run

Trying to get back to the Interstate was interesting, but we eventually did, and we headed back up to Manchester State Park for the evening. I had to start planning out some stuff for the World Scout Jamboree, and I also finished a book on my Kindle. And of course, it rained.

Where I Stayed: Back to Manchester State Park!

June 29th

McKenna had to go back to work today, so I took her back to the EPA facility so she could catch the ferry back out to Blake Island. I was then off again to the Olympic Peninsula, this time heading for another area of Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge.

My family had been in this area in November, but the road up to Hurricane Ridge is closed during the week in the late fall and winter. So this was my opportunity.

Of course, it was cloudy. I was able to spot the mountains for a bit before the clouds enveloped them for the rest of the afternoon. I wanted to do some hiking, but the roads are very rough in the area, so I just did the hikes around the area.

Hurricane Ridge


I then drove back down to Port Angeles, stopping along at a viewpoint and being able to see across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada, and headed west towards my campground for the evening, Emerald Valley Inn. After setting up, I went to the Elwha Valley area and completed the short hike to Madison Falls before sitting along the Elwha River. The clouds were not an issue down in the valley.

Madison Falls, Elwha River Valley

I returned back and made some supper. I was ready for the next stage of my trip – Canada.

July 2nd

I got up early in Ferndale, packed the car, and headed south to Mt. Rainier National Park. The park has four different visitor centers, so I started with one furthest from my campground, Sunrise. I went to the visitor center, discovered it was cloudy here too and decided to make the most of it. I headed on the trail to Eamons Vista and then continued to the end of the Silver Forest Trail. There was some snow and wildlife to see, and the views into the valley were nice.

View from Sunrise, Mt. Rainier NP

After arriving back to my car, I headed down the road south towards to Ohanapecosh area. I went to the Visitor Center to get my NPS stamp, then hiked to Silver Falls, and then hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs. The falls were good, and the Grove of the Patriarchs was cool because of the unique bridge going over the river.

By this time, it was raining steadily, so I wanted to get to camp and set up. I was outside the park at Big Creek Campground, a USFS site. I set-up quick and made my food quick as it was raining pretty heavily. I took the bare minimum into the tent to prevent everything from getting wet.

A little disappointed with the clouds and rain, but the trails I choose were some good hiking.

July 3rd

I got up early and left to head up to Paradise. I was there too early to go into the Visitor Center, but there were still some good hikes in the area (or so I hoped), and I even caught a glimpse of the elusive Mt. Rainier, which up to that point, had been concealed in the clouds.

I hiked past Paradise Inn, and went to see Myrtle Falls. Quite a bit of snow on the ground still, which was cool to contrast with the blooming waterfalls.

Myrtle Falls
Mt. Rainier sneaking out into the sun

I went back to the car and went down to the next parking lot to hike the Nisqually Vista Trail, except there were no vistas, because of the cloud cover. So that trail was a lost cause.

I then headed to the final Visitor Center, Longmire. I did a couple more hikes. The weather was much better down here. I hiked the Rampart Ridge Trail up to a viewpoint (surprise, no viewpoint because of the clouds), and then hiked the Trail of Shadows. Then my Mt. Rainier experience was complete.

Another short drive commenced to Mt. St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument, the site of the massive volcanic explosion in 1980. There were lots of good viewpoints along the road, and eventually, I reached Johnston Observatory, where I should have been able to see Mt. St. Helen’s. Of course, I could not because of the thick cloud cover. 0/2 for seeing large mountains today.

The original trail I was going to hike was Harry’s Ridge, but it was a little late and I would not have been able to see anything, so instead the park staff redirected me to Coldwater Lake, which was formed by the explosion in 1980. The wildflowers were blooming, they said. They were not wrong.

The remains of Mt. St. Helen’s explosion
Coldwater Lake – a lake that was formed because of the explosion

The best wildflowers of the trip. Some great hiking.

The best wildflowers of the trip were at Coldwater – almost made up for the fact that I did not see the mountain at all because of cloud cover.

After I returned from my hike, I cooked some beans and headed to Oregon, where I had intended to spend the evening. However, the rest stop I choose was more of a viewpoint, so I decided to continue on and find a rest stop back in Washington along I-5. It was a pretty loud one so I did not get a lot of sleep.

I technically went into Oregon on the 3rd, but I don’t count it until the 4th. Stay tuned to hear about my first ever time in the Beaver State.

2 thoughts on “7,149 Miles: Washington

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