Just before arriving at the Hurricane Ridge visitors center there's a seldom taken 8.5-mile dirt road that leads to the highest stretch of maintained trail in the Olympic Mountains. The landscape is wonderful and it's one of our favorite destinations on the North Coast of the Olympic Peninsula. In the winter time, the trail bends east through open tundra with ever-expanding views of the southern peaks and valleys of the Olympics. In the summertime, the trails open back up and you can camp by turquoise lakes, lounge in alpine meadows, gape at ancient rainforests, and scramble up to snow-capped peaks, all in one day. No matter what the season is, it feels good to be out here.
The coast of Washington has a variety of islands, each with its own distinct personality. Last week we explored the west coast Whidbey Island, about 30 miles (48 km) north of Seattle, which forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound. The abundance of low-lying grasslands and small farms have made this place a haven for artists looking for a quiet place outside of the city to create. We recently explored the west side of Whidbey looking for good trails and views of the Olympic Mountains and the island chain that extends into Canada. Although moving clouds hid most of the views we were looking for, we had perfect hiking temperatures and beautiful light for the entire day. Check out our recommendations below for day hikes and lodging and send us a note if there are any hidden gems on the island that we missed.
Photographs by Travis Gillett