Takhlakh Lake Campground is one of the best-kept secrets in western Washington. It boasts some amazing views of Mt. Adams, a lake that’s perfect for water play, and is remote enough even for the pickiest of stargazers.
Location: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Price: $18 Single, $30 Double
Extra Parking: $9 per Vehicle
Online Reservations: Yes, Reserve Here!
Max Length: 22 ft.
Restrooms: Vault Toilets Only
Potable Water: No
Be warned, the last few miles to the campground consists of one lane and gravel roads. While this can be a touch rough, its accessible for almost all vehicles; even considering this, the trip will be well worth the drive!
There is no potable water anywhere near the campground. Forgot to pack some? If you don’t have a filter handy that’s going to be at least a 45-minute drive to the nearest town (Randle).
The campground host will occasionally have firewood for sale ($6 per bundle), but this should be a backup source of wood. They often sell out and there’s no guarantee they’ll be selling.
There are plenty of vault toilets available and they’re surprisingly clean…. for vault toilets that is. Please remember to help keep them that way by lowering the seat and closing the door when finished!
There are drains throughout the campground that are designed for the disposal of wastewater from cooking and general clean up but don’t expect any accommodations for RVs. There are no hookups and no waste stations; in fact, the sites have a maximum length of 22 feet (including the car) so it’s a great place to bring the tents.
Fire rings with cooking grates and sturdy picnic tables are included with every site, and many sites even have direct access to the lake via a walking path.
Don’t expect to get lonely! This campground books early and fast. If you don’t get an early reservation keep an eye out for cancelations.
Location: South Cascades, Mt. St. Helens
Roundtrip: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Easy
Gain: 650 ft.
Harmony Falls is a short, moderately steep, trail that offers expansive views. You’ll traverse a lush hillside and cross a small field before making the final descent to Spirit Lake. The shore of the lake still contains the remains of trees that were snapped off the mountainside in the famous eruption.
You’ll have to make your way across the logs if you want to wade or swim in the water; be careful!
The water is cool and the view of the mountain from the end of the trail is spectacular. Harmony falls, on the other hand, was almost entirely buried when the lake level rose after the eruption. ‘Harmony Falls’ today is more like a short cascade of water as opposed to its previous impressive stature. That’s ok though, this hike is still very much worth the trek.
Are There Toilets? : There are vault toilets at a few trailheads along National Forest Road 99, but that does not include the Harmony Falls trailhead. If you need to use the bathroom stop at the Cascade Peaks viewpoint.
How about Picnic Tables? : Nope. You can eat at the car before heading down, pack in some lunch, or head down to the next viewpoint (Smith Creek).
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. You can use your Forest or Interagency Pass. If you don’t have one of those you can purchase a day pass for $5 from the Cascade Peaks viewpoint.
Are Dogs Allowed? : No. Pets are prohibited within the monument.
Can We Camp Here? : Campgrounds near this side of the monument include Iron Creek and Tower Rock, though they are a bit of a dive. There are no campgrounds within the monument itself.
When is the Best Time to Visit? : This area is closed in winter; check the area’s status here if you’re visiting late-season. Summer is the best time to visit.
Location: North Bend, WA
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Gain: 400 ft.
The Franklin Falls trail is a wonderfully scenic route that trails the Snoqualmie River between the East and West branches of I90; although, you might not even know that if it weren’t for an unobtrusive overpass near the falls area.
Parking for the falls can be found a little farther down the main road from the trailhead (if you’re old like me you’ll remember the old parking area right by the trailhead – this has recently been designated as handicap-accessible parking). To get to the new parking area continue down FR 5800 until you see the signs for Franklin Falls parking. There is a short, easy trail from there to the trailhead.
This trail is a wonderful option to consider when hiking with children or if you’re new to hiking, but there are a few things to consider. The elevation gain of 400 feet is almost completely within the inbound section of the hike. This means that you’ll be going mostly uphill on the way in and downhill on the way out.
If you’re bringing children younger than three or four-years-old you might want to be prepared to carry them out as the trek in can be tiring for little ones. Likewise, if you or someone you’re hiking with has mobility concerns you’ll want to keep this in mind. Most people can complete this trail, even if they have to stop to catch their breath a few times.
If you’re so inclined you can turn this into a loop trail via the old wagon road. This route won’t add any significant length or gain to your hike and it will end a little closer to the parking area.
This is quite an enjoyable and very popular trail; don’t expect to be alone out there!
Are There Toilets? : There are vault toilets at the trailhead, but, with the trail being so popular, there’s a good chance that they will be out of toilet paper (I always bring my own).
How about Picnic Tables? : Nope. If you’re not camping nearby you’ll likely want to chow down at the car before or after the hike.
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. You can either use your Forest, Discover, or Interagency Pass. If you don’t have one of these you can purchase a day pass from the Franklin Falls parking area.
Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes! They’ll be required to stay on a leash, and of course, you’ll need to pick up poo.
Can We Camp Here? : If you’re really lucky you might be able to nab a camping spot at the Denny Creek Campground, which is located near the trailhead, but if you don’t have a reservation it’s a loose bet. The campground is small and only has 3 walk-in spots (2 of which are for RVs). There are other less popular campgrounds nearby though. If you haven’t already done so, you should give Tinkham a try!
When is the Best Time to Visit? : This route is best taken when there is no snow or ice left on the ground. The area near the falls becomes inaccessible if icy. It is, however, a great summer hike! It’s almost completely shaded and the falls cool the area close by.
Location: Snoqualmie, WA
Roundtrip: 5.3 miles
Gain: 0 ft.
The Snoqualmie Tunnel was opened in 1914, and it was originally used as an underground section of “The Milwaukee Road” (a railroad that ran between Chicago and Seattle).
The railroad no longer travels this path, which now stands as part of the Iron Horse Trail. The trail is available for hikers as well as bicyclists and offers a unique experience to those brave enough to trek inside. The trail is nearly a straight shot from one end to the other and lacks any significant elevation changes. This makes it the perfect place for a spooky early fall stroll (or bike ride!).
*Please note that this trail is CLOSED from November 1st to May*
Make sure to display your Discover Pass when parking along the trail, and don’t forget to bring lights and a jacket! There are flushing toilets and picnic tables at the trail head. You’ll hike a little over 2 miles before reaching the next good stopping point at the other end of the tunnel, which also has picnic tables and a vault toilet.
If you have an adventure pup that won’t be bothered by the new environment feel free to bring them along! Do be mindful that many people enjoy this trail so make sure to be polite, and safe, by moving right for faster travelers.
If you’re feeling good once you exit the tunnel you can always add some length to your trip by continuing down the Iron Horse Trail a bit farther before turning around. There are some great views this way!
Above all, stay safe and have fun! If you decide to give this trail a try do let us know what you think!
If you happen to have any questions that were not addressed in this post feel free to comment or shoot us a message as well.
Location: Mount Rainier, Chinook Pass
Roundtrip: 3.2 miles
Gain: 600 ft.
Best hiked between late spring and early fall, the loop is approximately 3.2 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 600 feet. The Naches Loop is the perfect trail for families and those hikers looking for a quick, easy trek with awesome views.
The Naches Peak Loop is located on State Route 410 in the Chinook Pass area of Mount Rainier. The loop itself straddles the boundary between the Wenatchee State Forest to the north Mount Rainier National Park to the south. This means that if you’re bringing Fido you’ll only be allowed to hike about half of the trail in an out-and-back route starting from the northern parking lot.
Both of the parking areas, one at Tipsoo Lake as well as the parking for the Sheep Lake trailhead to the north, have vault toilets, but only the Tipsoo Lake parking has picnic tables. If you park at the Sheep Lake trailhead you’ll have to backtrack just a bit to the south to join the trail, but, either way, don’t forget to display forest pass!
This week we began at the Tipsoo Lake parking area.
From there you’ll want to head around the back side of the first lake and up the hill to the north. While there is no swimming or wading in Tipsoo Lake, there will be opportunities for water play later on the trail!
After hiking up this small hill you’ll join the Pacific Crest Trail to complete the northern half of the loop.
Here you will find a nice bridge that crosses over State Route 410 below. After crossing the bridge you’ll continue along the northern flank of Naches Peak. This part of the trail is actually part of the PCT and gently climbs up as you traverse the beautiful landscape.
After just over a mile of hiking you’ll come to a tarn that serves as a perfect spot for either a nice break or as a wonderful location to splash around with Fido and the little ones.
From there, its only about half a mile to the Dewey Lake Viewpoint, which is the best place to stop for a quiet rest and a snack as you look out across the mountains.
If you’re hiking with a pup this viewpoint will be your turn around spot, but if you’re continuing along the Naches loop you’ll progress south from the viewpoint and into Mount Rainier National Park- be careful to keep right at the junction of the Naches Loop and the trail down to Dewey Lake! A trip to the lake would add about 800 feet of elevation gain and two miles to your hike, though if you’re up for it the lake is a beautiful place to visit!
The southern half of the Naches Loop boasts wonderful views of Mount Rainier as the trial slopes downhill through beautiful mountain meadows. If you catch this area at the right time of year it will be bursting with wildflowers. Make sure to help preserve the meadows by staying on the trail!
After a mile and a half on this section of the trail you will cross back over State Route 410 and re-enter the Tipsoo lake parking area. There is no crosswalk so make sure to check the road carefully before crossing!
That’s it for the Naches Loop Trail!
Thanks everyone! Happy trails!