McLane Nature Trail

The McLane Nature Trail is a wonderful option if you want to get a little time outdoors on an otherwise busy weekend. It is located within the Capital State Forest and offers a nice dose of Washington’s native flora and fauna.

Location: Southwest WA, Capitol Forest
Roundtrip: 1.5 mi.
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 50 ft.
Rating: ★★★

IMG_7540(Area map as shown at trailhead)

A good portion of the trail is accessible by wheelchair, with assistance, as much of the trail consists of a boardwalk. There are plenty of platforms in which you can turn around, but doing so on the boardwalk would be a tight squeeze, so do keep that in mind if you have mobility concerns.

IMG_7554(Salmon swimming upstream to spawn)

If you happen upon this trail at the right time of year you’ll be able to watch chum salmon swim up the creek to spawn. Do note that the natural life cycle of the salmon involves it perishing after breeding. That being said, if you catch it at the wrong time of year the viewpoints along the creek may be rather stinky.

IMG_7575(Scars from logging activities)

There are a few good examples of old logging operations along the trail as well. Pictured above are post holes for springboards that loggers carved into the tree before cutting it down with a hand saw. This highlights some of our state’s history while also reminding us what a lasting impact our actions may have on the environment.

IMG_7588(A view from the trail)


Are There Toilets? : Yes! There are accessible vault toilets available near the second parking area

 How about Picnic Tables? : Yes. There is a group shelter with two picnic tables located near the second parking area

 Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes- use a discover pass. There is no pay station to purchase a pass so you’ll have to bring one.

 Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes!

Can We Camp Here? : This area is best used for day hiking (no camping allowed)

 When is the Best Time to Visit? : Anytime! As long as the weather cooperates, of course.


Help support The Northwest Quest by donating today!



McLane Nature Trail Co-ordinates: 47.0008, -123.0042

Washington Trail’s Association; McLane Nature Trail

Capitol Forest Weather Forecast


Trail of Shadows

The Trail of Shadows is a beautiful, short interpretive trail located just across the street from the main hub of Longmire. While it is only .7 miles in length, this trail is packed with neat sights to see and plenty of interpretive signs to read through. 

Location: Mount Rainier, Longmire area
Roundtrip: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 20 ft.

ToS map.png

The map pictured above shows only a small portion of the area around Longmire. Most notably, the Trail of Shadows has been highlighted. There are many other trails in the area to explore for almost all skill levels (from beginner to strenuous hikes). If you would like to see the full version of this map check the Resources below to find a printable PDF version!

If you hike the trail counter-clockwise, not long after departing Longmire you’ll come across a very short spur trail to the left. This short section leads to a nice view of the top of the mountain (if weather permits) as well as a glimpse of some evidence that Mount Rainier is, indeed, a live volcano. 

Take a few minutes to read the interpretive signs here and you’ll learn about this phenomenon. It was the bubbling waters in the area that made the Longmire hot springs possible!

There are a few other remnants of the past along the trail as well (which is why it’s called the “Trail of Shadows”!). Among these treasures, you’ll see what is left of a few of the stone fixtures located within the Longmire’s original hot springs as well as a small cabin from the same time period. 

IMG_8120 (1).png

If you have any questions about this trail don’t hesitate to ask via the contact link located above! If you have an experience you’d like to share about this, or any other, trail please include it in the comments below!

Happy Trails!


Are There Toilets? : Restrooms can be found just across the street, in Longmire.

How about Picnic Tables? : There are a few picnic tables located in Longmire. They can be found near the General Store.

Do I Need a Parking Pass? : To gain access to Mount Rainier National Park you will either need a National Park Pass or a week-long pass. Both can be purchased at the Nisqually entrance. 

Are Dogs Allowed? : No. The National Park does not allow pets on trails within the Park’s boundaries. There is a small exception of leashed pets being allowed within Longmire itself, but it is likely best to leave pets at home. 

Can We Camp Here? : Cougar Rock Campground is located a few miles outside of Longmire. However, it is open only during the summer months. There are also a few campgrounds located in the area just outside the park’s entrance. 

When is the Best Time to Visit? : This trail is accessable year-round with very few exceptions. The main Nisqually gate and road to Longmire is almost always open (unless extreme winter weather interferes). 




Help support The Northwest Quest by donating today!



Longmire and Cougar Rock Area Map and Trail Descriptions PDF (NPS)

Mount Rainier NPS Website

Rainier Guest Services (National Park Inn)

10-Day Weather Forecast; Longmire

Leave No Trace!

Throughout the past few weeks of the government shutdown, our National Parks have been left to the good graces of their visitors. Unfortunately, we’ve had many reports of overflowing trash bins, toxic bathrooms, and, most egregious of all, the destruction of the land and resources themselves.

In hindsight of such news, it has become even more important to spread the ideals of Leave No Trace.

What exactly is “Leave No Trace”?

Leave No Trace is a national center for outdoor ethics that teaches individuals how to enjoy the outdoors in responsible and sustainable ways. Much of their work is founded in the following 7 principles:


Be PREPARED! Don’t forget clothes to protect you from the elements, maps to show you the way, and knowledge about the area you’re visiting. Try reading books or talking to others before you go.


Stay on the MAIN TRAIL and don’t wander off by yourself. Make sure to avoid damaging flowers or small trees as they may not recover. Use existing camp areas – ones that are at least 100 wide steps from roads, trails, or water sources.


If you pack it in, PACK IT OUT. Ensure that you’re carrying all litter (including crumbs) home. Use bathrooms or outhouses whenever they’re available; when this isn’t possible use a cat hole to bury bathroom waste between 4 and 8 inches deep. Store the toilet paper in a plastic ziplock bag and throw it away in a garbage can.

Also, take care around water sources. To keep water clean avoid contaminating it with soap, food, or human waste.


DO NOT take plants, rocks, leaves, or historical items so that the next visitor may enjoy them. Pulling or chopping at leaves and branches can kill plants; please treat them with respect.

When looking for a place to camp remember that good campsites are FOUND, NOT MADE. Refrain from digging trenches or building structures around your campsite.


Use a camp stove for cooking. This will make it both easier to cook on and clean up when you’re done. If you do start a campfire be sure it is permitted in the area you’re visiting and always use an existing fire ring.

When building a campfire make sure to use sticks from the ground rather than breaking branches from trees and always make sure the fire is DEAD OUT before you leave.



Observe animals from a distance and make sure to NEVER APPROACH, FEED, OR FOLLOW them. Human food is unhealthy and can even be harmful to wildlife. Protect these animals by storing your food and trash properly. If you can not control pets they’re better left at home.


Have respect for others that are out enjoying nature as well. Remember that every visitor has a right to enjoy the outdoors.

Listen to nature rather than playing music, making loud noises, or yelling. (Besides, you’ll see more animals if you are quiet!)


Thank you for reading! If you’d like to find out more about Leave No Trace Ethics please follow the link in the resources listed below.

Happy Trails!


Help support The Northwest Quest by donating today!




Leave No Trace; Website

Leave No Trace; Blog