Spring into action with scenic hikes and an authentic Northwest meal in the Evergreen State.
With hibernation season behind us, Seattleites are looking for places to escape the concrete jungle, stretch out their arms and embrace the expansiveness of nature. Even if you only have a day, Seattle is littered with hikes within a few hours drive. For those in need of a little encouragement to get up a mountain, plan a post hike foodie trip. Here are two local adventures paired with a delicious meal to help keep you motivated while you power up… or down… the mountain.
Nestled south of Bellingham in the northwest corner of Skagit County, Oyster Dome is a great year round hike for Seattleites new to hiking or for veteran hikers just wanting something more casual. Popular on weekends, you often run into happy locals stirring their stumps and running their dogs. The trek begins on the Pacific Crest trail and continues upwards to the top of this geological gem. With views of the Puget Sound poking through clearings about halfway up, hikers will stay motivated as they ascend. The 6.5 round trip journey will get you in shape fast while the background smells of the forest mixed with the coastal breeze will elevate your winter blues and put a smile on your face for the rest of the week. A Discover Pass is required for parking, for conditions and routes check out the Washington Trails Association to get going.
Pair this hike with…
The Chuckanut Manor Seafood & Grill
After reaching exhaustion hikers can enjoy a glass of wine, a bowl of soup, and fresh oysters from the tidal flats at the base of Oyster Dome. Using quality local ingredients, the elegant Chuckanut Manor Seafood & Grill has an upscale feel to it but the friendly staff welcomes grungy hikers daily. Last year, I spent a lovely spring day darting up to the top of the dome and back with a friend so we could make it in time for happy hour. Sipping my glass of chardonnay from the deck overlooking the Puget Sound was just the treat I wanted after the climb. To tie us over for the ride back to Seattle, I had a bowl of asparagus soup and my friend ate oysters so local we could see the beds from the deck.
Take note: The Chuckanut Manor Seafood & Grill is closed Mondays. On Thursdays the happy hour includes $6 Absolute or Tangaray Martinis and $6 Manhattans.
Getting There: Oyster Dome is about an hour and a half drive from Seattle. Head north on I-5 and then take exit 231 for Washington 11 N/Chuckanut Drive towards Bow-Edison. The trailhead is right after the Chuckanut Manor In on the uphill side of the road and is not very noticeable. Look for parked cars; if you drive more than a minute past Chuckanut Manor you have gone too far.
Sure the trails and slopes off Interstate 90 are quick to get to and full of beauty but there is one problem… it feels like you never quite escape the gentle hum of the highway. Highway 2 is still close enough to Seattle for day hikes and the slow pace of the two-lanes allow time to check out local communities while waiting for a traffic light or a really slow driver.
Wallace Falls is a great place to start your exploration of Highway 2. Follow along the 5.5-mile (roundtrip) trail and look overhead at the series of waterfalls along the way to Wallace Falls. In the spring, these falls will be pouring out so much water you may catch a drop or two of mist on the tip of your nose. The trail is good for people getting started on hiking.
Pair this hike with…
The Sultan Bakery and Zeke’s Drive In
Coming off the mountain I can never decide whether I want a breakfast sandwich at The Sultan Bakery or a milkshake at Zeke’s Drive In, but if I get out and play enough, I don’t have to choose between them. Zeke’s Drive In, in Gold Bar, is famous among Seattle mountaineers and hikers. A right of passage for newbies to the area is finishing a multi-day section of the Pacific Crest Trail and celebrating with a peanut butter shake from Zeke’s. Growing up, my dad bribed me on trips with the promise of a milkshake from the Echo Lake Chalet (in California) at the end — some things never change.
When you are heading up Highway 2 from Seattle call the Sultan Bakery (360-793-7996) while passing through Monroe and order your breakfast sandwich. Local hikers have this timing down to a tee and your sandwich will be hot and ready when you get there. These sandwiches cost about $8 and come with a gluttonous portion of potato chips. Fried eggs, American cheese, choice of bacon, sausage, or ham, and whatever other toppings you want are elegantly placed between two walls of Texas toast, resulting in a meal that is about five inches thick. Don’t bother sharing this mountain of calories, instead eat half in the car and save the other half for the trail or the slope. In addition to this delicacy, the Sultan Bakery has Sasquatch Paws (giant maple bars) and a variety of home style meals should you chose to dine in.
Getting There: From Highway 2 drive east to Gold Bar and just before milepost 28, turn left onto 1st Street (there’s a sign for Wallace Falls State Park). Continue for a half a mile until you get to a stop sign, turn right onto May Creek road and continue another 1.5 miles to Wallace Falls State Park where you will see the trailhead.