It doesn’t stop many of us crazy diehards—even when the freezing level shoots up and it’s raining on the ski slopes (and everywhere else). We love our outdoors here in the Northwest.
In the lowlands and foothills there are still plenty of hiking trails accessible year-round (except for during a rare lowland snowfall). Here’s a sampler.
Note: Currently the Twin Falls trail is closed between the first overlook with benches (0.75 from miles from west trailhead) to the west end of the Twin Falls Canyon Bridge (1.75 miles from west trailhead) due to several hazards that make the trail dangerous for hikers. Access the east end of the Twin Falls Trail from the Homestead Valley Trailhead located off of I-90 Exit 38.
Today I managed to find three also-crazy-diehard friends to join me for a hike in the rain to Twin Falls in North Bend’s Olallie State Park, about 30 miles east of Seattle in the I-90 Mountains-to-Sound Greenway corridor.
Twin Falls is a popular, pretty easy, relatively short hike through the forest along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River with views of gorgeous waterfalls, which are gushing today from the rain and some snowmelt.
I like this hike despite the crowds because it’s close and short enough (2.4 miles roundtrip to the waterfall overlook bridge, or up to 4 miles RT) that I can zip out in the morning, get good exercise, and be back in Seattle for afternoon errands. Although it’s not a long hike, elevation gains and losses along the trail get my heart rate up and work the quads and glutes.
With lots of Gore-Tex rain gear, I rarely hike with an umbrella. But today I do. Here in North Bend along this stretch of river, it rains over 80 inches a year, more than double Seattle’s annual rainfall. This is truly a temperate rainforest, with thick green moss and delicate ferns clinging to tree trunks along the river.
|Starting out in the rain at Ollalie State Park Twin Falls trailhead.|
We meander along the river for about a half mile, then the trail switchbacks up and down and up and down again. The trail is in decent shape considering the traffic it gets. People come with all sorts of footwear, from Betty in her leather hiking boots with gaiters, to Gavin in his barefoot sport shoes, to Joe-Cool with his naked paws.
There are a couple lookouts along the way before the overlook bridge between the lower and upper falls, which crosses a narrow gorge about 80 feet above the water. Water spilling over the lower, tallest waterfall reminds me of spun sugar threads as it spiders down the rock face and plunges into the river. It’s bracing to behold.
We turn around a little past the bridge and get back to the trailhead after being out a little under two hours, wet but happy.
More I-90 Corridor Year-Round Hikes
Here on Pacific Northwest Seasons I’ve blogged about other foothills hikes in the I-90 corridor between Puget Sound and Snoqualmie Pass. (Just click on the links to posts about these hikes.) Generally the Issaquah Alps, including Tiger Mountain, Cougar Mountain, and Squak Mountain are accessible year-round, with miles of forest trails. Most of the year you can also hike up Rattlesnake Ledge for stunning views of the Snoqualmie Valley and Mount Si. And with a trailhead just across the parking lot from Rattlesnake Ledge, Cedar Butte is another mostly year-round hike in the forest.
Portland and Seattle have some large forest parks with good trails for getting away in the city. Read about winter walks in Carkeek Park here. In Carkeek as well as Discovery Park, with its miles of trails, the scenery transitions from forest, to grassy fields, to sandy Puget Sound beaches. Forest Park in Portland has over 30 miles of trails just above downtown.
|After hiking the forest trails in Carkeek Park, I always go down to the beach and touch Puget Sound.|
Go stretch your legs on an invigorating and glorious hike along the bluff at Ebey’s Landing on the western side of Whidbey Island. In Washington's San Juan Islands, there are numerous hikes on Orcas Island, including the Mountain Lake Loop in Moran State Park and Turtle Mountain.
|Along the bluff trail at Ebey's Landing, Whidbey Island|
Columbia River Gorge Hikes
Unless there’s a winter ice storm, actually a pretty rare occurrence, you can hike year-round on the many trails in the Columbia Gorge National Recreation Area east of Portland. Be careful of icy trails near waterfalls on cold winter days. In this post I wrote about hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls and back.