Finally, a trip report from 2020! I’m still trying to catch up on last year’s hikes, but thought I’d better at least post one trail report that is current and hopefully relevant. Though, this will be less of a trip report, and more of a “things you can do while waiting for summer” post. (For the average hiker who doesn’t own an ice ax…hardcore folks have a much different list, I’m sure.)
The “Skagit Wildlife Area” (also known as the Skagit Bay Estuary) is not much of a hike. Walk the entire area, and you are not going to get much more than a couple miles in. But if the sun is out, it will be shining on you. You get to see the water, you get to see birds, and you are outside – what more do you really need? It’s easy and accessible in every season, and lovely in it’s own way, even while it’s in the desolate winter wasteland phase. Plus it’s a good way to get your money’s worth out of that yearly Discover Pass that you hardly ever use.
If you own a yearly Sno-Park pass, I’m sure you already know of every way possible to get your money’s worth out of that, so I don’t need to tell you about the Salmon Ridge Sno-Park on the Mount Baker Hwy. If you don’t, and would like to spend a nice day either snowshoeing or cross country skiing and don’t mind forking out $20 for the day, then this place is for you. I only went because my friend wanted to introduce me to the cross country skiing world (complete with ambassadors in the parking lot with hot chocolate to welcome you) and she provided all I needed, including the pass you know I would never have payed for. (Thank you, Cindy!)
For another day, and for those of you in the cheapskate club with me, your free of charge option is Hannegan Road, which is only a few miles prior to Salmon Ridge. Though, those few miles less in elevation, they make a difference, and you will not find quite as much snow – but thankfully my friend Debbie and I found enough. Not enough to really need the snowshoes in this case, but most folks were using them anyway, along with the handful of brave cross country skiers. (A lumpy, bumpy trail with plenty of dogs…the dog-less groomed tracks at the Sno-Park might be worth the money if you really want to cross country ski.)
My last winter idea for you is the ever popular Skyline Lake at Steven’s Pass. Get there early, as you will be fighting the downhillers for a parking spot. Pull into the left lot (coming from the west side of the mountains) and find the obvious trail to the left of the PCT. If it’s a weekend, I promise you will find a plethora of snowshoers, skiers, hikers with only boots, hikers with crampons or micro spikes (that would be us – they worked great) and maybe even snow cave campers. We were even lucky enough to get a tour of their newly erected snow city, which you can see here Snow City and here Snow Cave
When you’ve completed the short 3 mile round trip (short but steep…it felt like plenty) you can simply stroll on over the pedestrian bridge to the Bull’s Tooth Pub and get yourself a yummy burger and beer – which surprisingly is not as over priced as you might expect. I’m so glad we did, because without those few feet of walking between the start of PCT’s Section J and the start of Section K, I wouldn’t have been able to say I completed ALL of Washington’s PCT come the end of the summer. And I do plan on saying that…keep your fingers crossed for me. (Here’s another silly video…I’ll blame the celebratory shot of Jager we took at the car 😉 On the PCT Bridge )
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