A:As you likely realize, the Pacific Northwest hosts literally thousands of trails that wind old growth forests that typify hiking and mountain biking, along with campgrounds everywhere in between. The trick is deciding where to stop.
Driving through northwest Oregon into southern Washington, it's hard miss the towering beauties of the Cascade Mountain Range: Mt. Hood (11,429 feet), Mt. St. Helens (8,365 feet), and Mt. Rainier (14,411 feet). All three offer hardcore hiking, but if you prefer speed and technical adventure, rack the
If you'd rather break in your hiking boots, head northwest to Olympic National Park. Located on the Olympic Peninsula just two hours west of Seattle, the park spans 922,561 acres, including the sub-alpine meadows at the base of Mt. Olympus (7,980 feet), protected rain forests, and coastal shores. Hiking opportunities span the park, but you'll want to hit the peninsula's rocky and wild coastal shores where 73 miles of shoreline draws park visitors for camping and hiking along sandy beaches and rocky trails, complete with views of towering headlands and sea stacks. Beginning at either Ozette or Mora campgrounds, and then hike from Sand Point or Rialto Beach for a 20-mile adventure. While the trail is safe, hikers are advised to time their trip according to the tide table. Sheer cliffs and narrow trails will literally keep you on your toes and it's best if the tide isn't lapping at your heels. Plus, tide pools and other marine treasures are uncovered and open for exploration as the tide retreats. Highlights include clearing headlands trails by way of wooden ladders such as Norwegian Memorial, even during low tide. You'll also likely spot seals, eagles, otters, and whales cruising the area. Sites at both campgrounds are $12 per night and wilderness permits for camping are $5 per group plus $2 per person, per night. Entrance into the park is $15 per vehicle.
Or head further north to British Columbia's Vancouver Island. Home to world-class mountain biking, Vancouver Island has thousands of miles of single track, freeriding, and a lift-accessed mountain bike park. Trails range from moderate to extreme alpine downhills, and terrain spans across the island's mountains, forests, canyons, valleys, and beaches. Mount Washington Alpine Resort has the only lift-accessed runs on the island, soaring a vertical mile above sea level. Riders will find views of the Pacific Ocean, Strathcona Provincial Park, and the Cascade Mountain Range, 18 trails, and over 20 miles of single track. Riders of all levels will find trails that suit their skill. Summer mountain bike lift rates are $36, and if you decided not to load the bike racks, full-day mountain bike packages start at $89. Pay a little more and get the Mile High Mountain Getaway; packages that include one night in a luxury condo, chairlift ride, breakfast, and dinner start at $79. Upgrade to include unlimited riding on all the resort's freeride and downhill trails for another $20.
Amy A. Clark