Total Ascent: 100ft
Highest Point: 900ft
Total Distance: 2 miles
Location: N 47° 31.4460, W 123° 20.5140
Required Permit: National Park Pass
A few weeks ago we rang in the New Year with a trip out to the Olympic Peninsula to tour one of its most popular trails: Staircase Rapids. Located near Lake Cushman, this nearly flat riverwalk has attracted hikers for over a century. With blue skies above Seattle, we grabbed our snowshoes and started the long trek out to the North Fork Skokomish River.
This truly is a hike for all seasons. Accessible all year, this loop works for a quick snowshoe or a short summer hike. Because the distance and elevation are fairly minimal, this hike works well for young hikers and first time snowshoers. This is also a very popular destination with many trails linking to other nearby destinations, so expect a little company as you head out to Staircase. There’s less traffic in the winter, so if you’re looking for an introductory snowshoe, Staircase Rapids is a good bet.
There's a lot more to the Staircase Rapids, and you can learn all about it in our book, Hiking Through History Washington. You'll find a trail map, route descriptions, history, and more for this and many more hikes throughout the State. Help support hikingwithmybrother.com and the work we do by picking up a copy!
To get there, take I-5 south to Olympia to Exit 104 toward Aberdeen and Port Angeles. Follow US 101 along Hood Canal just over 35 miles through Shelton to Hoodsport. Turn left onto Lake Cushman Road/State Route 119 and follow for a little over 9 miles to a T-intersection. Head left onto Forest Road 24. Continue for about 6 miles to the Staircase Ranger Station and the parking lot. Note that FR 24’s pavement turns to gravel after the first 2 miles. -Nathan
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Total Ascent: 2200ft
Highest Point: 4400ft
Total Distance: 13 miles
Location: N 47° 58.7460, W 121° 21.7860
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
A few months ago we headed out to the Monte Cristo townsite to explore Glacier Basin, a rough hike that sees far fewer hikers than nearby Gothic Basin. Complete with waterfalls, wildflowers and relics of Monte Cristo’s mining past, we wasted no time clambering up into this alpine cirque. NOTE: The US Forest Service will be closing Monte Cristo in the fall of 2013 for a cleanup operation that will last until 2015. During this time both townsite and this approach to Glacier Basin will be closed.
This is not an easy hike, and it is likely a little too long for most day hikers. Some of the distance can be removed by biking to Monte Cristo, but hauling your bike across the South Fork Sauk River isn’t for everyone. However, this does make for a decent weekend backpacking trip, and you’re unlikely to meet too many other folks on this less-traveled trail.
There's a lot more to Glacier Basin, and you can learn all about it in our book, Hiking Through History Washington. You'll find a trail map, route descriptions, history, and more for this and many more hikes throughout the State. Help support hikingwithmybrother.com and the work we do by picking up a copy!
To get there, take I-5 North to Exit 194. Follow Highway 2 for about two miles. Stay in the left lane and merge onto Lake Stevens Highway 204. Follow for two miles to Highway 9. Take the left onto Highway 9 toward Lake Stevens. In just under two miles, you’ll reach Highway 92 to Granite Falls. Take a right and follow for about nine miles to the Mountain Loop Highway. Take the MLH for 31 miles to Barlow Pass. Park and find the gated Monte Cristo Road on the right side of the road, opposite the trailhead parking lot. -Nathan
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