Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Favorite Pacific Northwest Trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Fall is beautiful here in Seattle: it is my favorite time of year for hiking a Pacific Northwest Trail in the Alpines Lake Wilderness as the temps are a little lower, the bugs are a little fewer, and the crowds a little thinner, especially during the week. 

So yesterday we headed out for the perfect fall day. After a yummy breakfast at our Seattle WA Bed and Breakfast, we hopped in the car and set off north for Highway 2. After about an hour and a half drive we were at the trailhead for the Tonga Ridge hike, one of our favorite hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, near Seattle. 
pacific northwest trail
the beginning

This is the perfect hike, not too long (6 1/2 miles round trip to Sawyer Pass), not too high (elevation gain only about 500 feet) and chock full of views, views, and more views. Snow capped mountain peaks, huckleberry bushes (yes they are ripening in the fall, and yes you CAN eat them), wildflowers, we still saw some Indian Paintbrush, lupine, the beginning of fall color, and lots of white flowers (that I don't know the name of), then to top it off a beautiful meadow at the end, a great place to sit in the sun and eat lunch. We don't provide lunch at our Bed and Breakfast in Seattle (We always serve breakfast!) but there is a great deli at the grocery store in nearby University Village where you can get all you need for a hiking lunch. I am convinced that lunch ALWAYS tastes better outdoors on a hike and is especially yummy when you are sitting in a beautiful meadow or by an alpine lake to eat it.
Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Pacific Northwest Trail
MORE views!!!!
Pacific Northwest Trail
Huckleberries: YUM
For the more adventurous, there is about a mile and a half side trip up to Mount Sawyer that can be done, and I hear the views are really stupendous from up there. We passed on it this time, as the views we were already seeing were pretty spectacular.  If you like a lake as a destination, then there is a side trail to Fisher lake, pretty secluded and makes the hike out and back about 9 miles. We were after a leisurely day with a nice meadow lunch, so we passed on the side trips. Search the Washington Trails Association for all kinds of great hikes in and around Seattle.

On the way back to our Seattle Bed and Breakfast, we took in another Pacific Northwest tradition and ended the day with a stop at Zeke's Drive In for burgers and fries for dinner. I have been ending outdoor adventures off Highway 2 at this great spot for more years than I can count. Eating out at the red picnic tables was the perfect end to a perfect Pacific Northwest fall day, just a short day trip from our Seattle Bed and Breakfast.

Perfect end to a hike in the Alpine Lakes Wildnerness
Dinner at Zeke's, the perfect end to a perfect Seattle hiking day.

Joyce Schulte
Owner / Innkeeper
Chambered Nautilus Bed and Breakfast Inn

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