Hood Canal Events

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The Hood Canal Region is filled with recreational activities all year round. Whether you come to Hood Canal for a special event, to revel in nature or to be pampered and relaxed, the options abound. Sometimes there are so many opportunities and activities it’s hard to plan and decide. If you’re looking for an adventure low key or exciting, but the options are just too overwhelming, never fear. Local entrepreneurs, Kerry London Myers and Jeff Nunnemaker, have created an amazing company that focuses on event planning specific to our region. Whether you are interested in a small, intimate kayaking tour, a corporate event or even attending one of their large scale events like the Traveler 5K Run/Walk, Kerry and Jeff have something great planned for you.

The core services they offer include: Core Services – Event Consultation, Local Personal Concierge Desk, Private/Corporate Event and Tour Planning, Lodging and Accommodations, Transportation, Outdoor Recreation & Activities, Exclusive Venues, Dining and Catering.
Their special event services include: Special Event Services – 5k/10k, Half/Full Marathon, Pace/Peddle/Paddle Triathlon, Polar Plunge, Overnight Hiking and Camping Expeditions, Rafting, Fishing, Winery and Brewery Tours, Golf Tournaments, Foraging and Survival Expeditions.

Their expertise and dedication have given them exclusive access to caterers, venues, accommodations and even transportation. The Hood Canal Events team can take on just about any request and challenge and create an unforgettable experience.  I had the pleasure to attend their Traveler 5K Run/Walk and it was a top notch event.  But see for yourself – below are just a few examples of experiences they offer.

The Pack & Go – HCE will plan a customized Hood Canal experience based around your budget and interests. All you have to do is simply respond with your answers to the bulleted items below. We’ll take care of your travel and accommodation arrangements – all while keeping your destination experience a surprise.

  • NUMBER IN YOUR TRAVEL PARTY – IS EVERYONE OVER 21?
  • WHAT ARE YOUR DESIRED TRAVEL DATE(S)?
  • WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS (HIKING, KAYAKING, CAMPING, TOURS, TASTINGS, ETC.)?
  • WHAT IS YOUR GET AWAY TRAVEL BUDGET?

Mini Traveler Day Camp – “#OptOutside” It is our goal to enforce environmentally responsible behaviors in our youth that derives directly from participating in such ‘wild nature activities’ as playing independently in the woods, hiking, kayaking, and exploring at an early age. Mini Traveler Camp is committed to getting kids to #OptOutside enjoying the Hood Canal on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, please join us!

The Ridge Motorsports Park GoKarts – Olympic Grand Prix Package Includes

  • Roundtrip Transportation on the HCE Bus
  • Locally Prepared Lunch for your experience
  • Safety and Race Training prior to race
  • Safety Helmets for your race
  • Three 12-Minute Races per participant
  • Beer/Wine/Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Bottle of Champagne for the victor!

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SNOW LAKE

Although there are pretty much endless hiking opportunities in and around the Olympic Peninsula area, sometimes it’s good to head east for a different perspective and visual stimulation.  The hike to Snow Lake is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness near North Bend.  A $5 Northwest Forest Pass is required for this visit.  Park in the Alpental Ski area lot, which can fill up rather quickly on the weekends.  My friends and I decided to make our journey there early on a Monday morning mid-July.  There was plenty of parking, but there were tons of people making the same trek.

I was looking for a hike that wasn’t too terribly far from home.  (Approximately 2.25 hours from Union.)  I also wanted it to be tougher than a paved path, but not so tough I could not handle it.  In addition, it needed to have a view of something spectacular!  Now for a casual, out-of-shape hiker like myself, when a hike is rated average, I have to translate that in to fairly difficult.  After much research, we narrowed down the options to Snow Lake.  7.25 miles round trip, 1,800 ft elevation gain, and fairly easy.  Fairly easy if you’re young, agile, in good shape and were never a smoker!  The first 1.75 miles of narrow, rocky, rugged paths are a steady low incline with moderate elevation gain.  As you climb up these first few miles you get incredible views of the opposing peaks including Chair Peak.  We could see the two chair lifts running up the mountain sides across from us.  As you climb there are occasional breaks in the trees where you can see far behind you the buildings around the Alpental Ski area and the parking lot where your car is just a tiny looking cube.  And as you look at the ground you’ve covered and you look up to see where you still have to go, you wonder how on earth are we climbing to a lake?  It’s also difficult to tell exactly where you’re going up to as the path blends into the visual of the mountain side.  Unless of course there are hikers ahead of you…then you can really get a good idea of how high you’re going to climb!

At the 1.75 mile mark, there is an off-shoot of the trail that leads to another lake.  But Snow Lake was our destination, so we took the path to the sharp right and continued on.  At this point in the journey, the trail gets pretty steep.  It is another mile of steep, rocky switchbacks.  Now remember, this is coming from the mind of an unseasoned hiker.  Other hikers were gliding uphill like it was nothing.  One cool guy was carrying his dog like a baby to protect the dogs paws from rocks!  I could barely get myself up there, let alone carry a full grown pup!  There are not many places along this trail to step off to the side to rest and catch your breath, so if you see one and need one, take it!  All of the hikers we encountered were kind and courteous, encouraging even as I huffed and puffed my way up there.  One kind man on his way down reminded me it didn’t matter WHEN I got there, just that I arrived!

After the mile of steady switchbacks, we reach the end of my journey.  When the ground levels out, the path splits left and right.  To the right there is a path that leads to giant boulders, a dead end.  And to the left, the path curves around and starts to descend.  We went left.  We climbed onto the boulders and were treated with a beautiful and amazing view of Snow Lake from above.  For a 95 degree day down on the ground, the weather up top was extremely different.  It was very windy, cold and damp and a misty, cloudy fog continued to roll across the lake in spurts immediately driven away by the wind to be followed by a new burst of fog.  But the view was stunning.  We sat on the boulder, enjoyed our snacks and lots of water while we watched the weather perform a ballet across the lake.  If you continue on the trail, it will lead you down to the lake itself, but my tired little legs could not handle going all the way down.  Round trip to the boulder is about 6 miles.  And of course, the way down was much easier, although not too gently on the knees.  So while the journey may not have been easy (for me), I will admit it was about as easy as climbing the side of a small mountain could ever be!  And it was most definitely worth the sense of accomplishment and stellar views.

Photo Jul 27, 5 17 55 PM         Photo Jul 27, 4 11 32 PM (1)          Photo Jul 27, 2 52 05 PM

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Festivals & Festivities

Pretty much year round there is bound to be some sort of annual celebration or festival from the Olympic Peninsula area to the Kitsap Peninsula area.  And this list doesn’t even include the heavy hitters in Pierce, King and surrounding counties like the Washington State Fair or Bumbershoot!  So here is a month by month list of the different festivities happening in our “neck of the woods” January through December.  Be sure to check websites for dates, admission fees, etc.  If you see one we’ve missed, be sure to let us know and we’ll add it on the list!

January:

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December:

Mountain Adventures

One thing we certainly have no shortage of here in Western Washington: Mountains. Our crowning jewel, Mount Rainier, her quiet sisters Mount Baker & Mount Adams, the sister with an eruptive attitude Mount St. Helens and of course scores of smaller peaks in the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains.

Mount Baker– Furthest from Union is the glorious Mount Baker located in the northern Cascade Region about 4.5 hours from Union. Mount Baker is one of the snowiest places on earth. In 1999 the mountain received a record annual snowfall of 1,140 inches. That’s 95 feet!!! Mount Baker is located in the Snoqualmie National Forest which is one of the most visited forests in the nation. “We have a little of everything to accommodate the most experienced outdoor enthusiast to the beginning hiker. The forest offers year-round recreational possibilities as well as educational opportunities. Tour the forest, visit one our lakes or rivers, go fishing, river rafting, bird watching, or for a change of pace try snowshoeing or skiing. Whatever your outdoor interest may be, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will amaze and inspire you. Come visit and learn what nature is all about and experience first-hand the stunning vistas, native plants and alpine ecosystems.”

Mount St Helens– Famous for her volatile eruption in May of 1980, the volcano itself is located about 3 hours from Union. There are two separate visitor centers, the Mount St Helens Visitors Center at Silver Lake and The Johnston Ridge Observatory. Approaching from the North/West side gives the best views of the residual destruction from that fated eruption of more than 30 years ago. Continuing to the east, Forest Road 25 or 99 offer the closest view of the crater by automobile. Obtain a permit and backpack through Mount Margaret back country for breath taking views and wildlife galore.

Mount Rainier– Closest to Union, at just about 2 hours, stands the most glorious of all our mountains, Mount Rainier. Standing at 14, 411 feet with 26 major glaciers, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated mountain in the 48 contiguous states. There are endless opportunities of exploration and education at Mount Rainier regardless of the season. Hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife and wildflower viewing and scores of other activities await. Choose a season, choose your comfort level and make the journey, whether for the day or the weekend. Need help narrowing it down, check out the top 10 things to do at http://www.visitrainier.com

Mount Adams– Mount Adams deserves an honorable mention here. It is very difficult to travel there from the western side, but not impossible. A 4.5 hour drive south through Portland and back north OR a 5.5 hour drive through the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest will bring you to the Mount Adams Recreation Area. Because of its isolation and remote location, much of Mount Adams is uninhabited and undisturbed. This makes it a popular area for those really looking to get away from, well, everything!

Mountain Climbing

Mountain climbing may not be for the faint of heart, but the scenery and the views will be among the most rewarding experiences of your life. There is no shortage of climbing adventures in Washington State, with hundreds of climbs for beginner, intermediate and advanced summit mountaineer. We are home to Mount Baker, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier. But between the Cascades and the Olympics, there are countless other mountains and peaks to climb.

Mount Rainier- Standing at 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier, our crowning beauty, is the largest mountain in the Cascade Range. The peak of this beauty is unique in that it offers 3 separately classified summits; Columbia Crest, Point Success and Liberty Cap. However, if you’re a serious climber, you probably already know this! Dozens of websites dedicated to providing information about climbing this extraordinary mountain are available.

Little Tahoma- Little Tahoma is actually a sub-peak of Mount Rainier standing at 11, 138 feet. It is the 3rd largest peak in Washington and is not often climbed because climbers are usually more focused on Mount Rainier. But Little Tahoma is rated 3 out 100 of the best climbs in Washington State.

Bonanza Peak- Bonanza Peak stands at 9,511 feet and is located outside of Chelan, WA. It is the highest non-volcanic peak in Washington. ” Bonanza Peak is considered by many people to be the most difficult county highpoint in the lower 48 States to summit because successful summiters must possess and use a wide variety of mountaineering skills. Many other mountains have longer approaches, steeper rock climbs, more difficult crux sections, and more glacier travel, but Bonanza Peak combines each of those aspects into one summit trip.”

Mount Olympus- While relatively unknown, reaching the summit of Mount Olympus is considered a rite of passage by climbers in the Northwest. The lower altitudes of the climb offer views of the Hoh River and one of the last remaining old growth forests in the continental US. From Glacier Meadows, you will traverse 3.8 mile long Blue Glacier to reach the Snow Dome before continuing on to the 7,962 foot summit.

Mount Ellinor- Mount Ellinor is located close to Union, only about 8 miles outside of Hoodsport. This is a tough but rewarding climb for the beginner. Mount Ellinor may only have 3,200 feet of elevation gain, but she is a steep climb. The top of Mount Ellinor boasts views of Lake Cushman, Hood Canal, Puget Sound, The Olympics and The Cascades.
Click here for a full list of the top 100 climbs in Washington.

Winter Activities

Love skiing, snowboarding, tubing or just love to enjoy a hot mulled cider from the ski resort lounge? There are a few different options that include fun for all types of winter wonderland lovers.  And as November creeps along and the winter rapidly approaches, I know now is the time people are gearing up to enjoy their favorite winter activities.  And if you’ve never tried any of these rites of Pacific Northwest passage, there’s no time like the present!  And personally, I cannot wait to see the snow capped mountains, Evergreen trees dusted in white and long stretches of untouched land blanketed in awesome whiteness.

Hurricane Ridge– 17 miles south of Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is located in the heart of the Olympic National Park. It is a small, family oriented ski area offering skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Hurricane Ridge offers mile high winter adventures with unparalleled scenic views. Avoid the crowds and congestion of the typical slopes at Hurricane Ridge. Hurricane Ridge is about 3 hour from Union, WA.

Crystal Mountain– Crystal Mountain is the largest ski resort in Washington and is located on the sunny side of Mount Rainier. There are 53 runs for all different experience levels, restaurants and ski shops. There are over 2,600 acres available for skiing and snowboarding with stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades. Crystal Mountain Resort is located about 2.5 hours from Union, WA.

The Summit at Snoqualmie– The Summit at Snoqualmie is locate just 45 minutes from Seattle. The Summit has almost 2,000 skiable acres and 24 chair lifts between Summit West, Summit East, Summit Central and Alpental. There are two terrain parks and a tubing center creating fun for the whole family. There are 4 base lodges, several dining options and equipment rentals.  The Summit is only about 2 hours from Union, WA.

Olympic Peninsula Nature Edition part 2

As promised from our last blog post, we’re continuing our Olympic Peninsula Nature Edition today.  This area is just so chock full of natural beauty goodness, we had to break it into two posts!  So, without further ado….

Dungeness Spit– Located less than 2 hours from Union, the Dungeness Spit is part of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge founded in 1915. Formed in the Vashon Glacial era, ten to twenty thousand years ago, it is one of only a few such geological formations in the world. There is a 10 mile roundtrip hike along the spit to the tip, which will take you to the lighthouse that was built in 1857! The hike can take between 4-6 hours, so be prepared with food, water and sunscreen. As this is a wildlife refuge, there are dozens of migratory birds and other wildlife. To keep these critters protected, there is limited recreational activity permitted. If you’re looking for a rewarding nature hike, make this journey.

Cape Flattery– Cape Flattery is located near Neah Bay and is about a 4 hour drive from Union, but worth the trek. Here you can hike to the northern most point in the continental US. Recently the Makah Tribe rebuilt the once treacherous trail leading to the Cape’s breath-taking views. The Makah’s have declared Cape Flattery a nature sanctuary. Here you have the opportunity to see more than 239 species of birds, otters and even whales! The area also offers a variety of places to

Lake Crescent– Located about 2.5 hours from Union, Lake Crescent is the second deepest lake in Washington State. A lack of nitrogen in the water prohibits the growth of algae in the lake resulting is pristine, crystal clear blue water. Both camping and lodging are available. Hike numerous trails, old logging roads and even old railroad tracks.

Sekiu– Located on the way to Cape Flattery and about 3.5 hours from Union, is the town of Sekiu on Clallam Bay. Enjoy the peace and quiet of the bayside fishing village, take a hike or hop in a canoe, even watch for bald eagles, sea otters and gray whales. Renew yourself in this peaceful and friendly small town.

In our next post, we’ll cover the Olympic Peninsula-Town & City edition for those looking for a more cultural and less outdoors driven get-away.

Olympic Peninsula Nature Edition part 1

If you love to experience nature and the great outdoors, there is certainly no shortage of opportunities in Washington.  As a matter of fact, there are boundless options without even leaving the Olympic Peninsula!  So many in fact, that I had to break up this info into 2 parts! So whether you’re new to the area or looking for a great reason to break away from daily monotony, here are some suggestions to get out there and make new discoveries.

Olympic National Park offers a million acres of adventure with 3 different settings including 73 miles of ocean beaches, rain forest valleys and alpine meadows all at the foot of glacier capped mountains. 95% of the park is designated wilderness with over 600 miles of trails for hiking, climbing and exploring. To incorporate learning into your adventure, visit the marine center or even join a guided hike, bike, paddle or tour. The closest point in ONP is only 29 miles from Union, WA.

Surrounding the Olympic National Park with over 633,000 acres is the Olympic National Forest. There are more than 200 miles of trails, many of which wander through old growth forests. ONF also operates 17 campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis.

While there are dozens of worthwhile nature excursions in the Olympic Peninsula, here are some recommended highlights.

Hurricane Ridge– Located about 120 miles from Union, Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park. 12 miles north of Hurricane Ridge is Heart O’ the Hills campground with 105 year round campsites in old growth forest. There are a number of hiking trails from ridge top traverses, to steep trails that descend to sub alpine lakes and valley.

Sol Duc River & Valley– The valley and hot springs are about 137 miles from Union. Visiting the Sol Duc Valley, you will encounter old growth forests, explore Sol Duc Falls and Salmon Cascades or relax in the hot springs. And if you like salmon fishing, this seems like the place to go. The hot springs are open about mid-March to late October and do require reservations & booking. Otherwise there are 82 year round campsites available.

Hoh Rain Forest– Hoh is located about 170 miles from Union. The rainforest receives and annual rainfall of 12-16 feet! The rainforest is home to lush vegetation including for deciduous and coniferous species. There are 88 year round campsites available at Hoh. There are two short trails that start at the visitors center for those looking for an easy stroll, but there is also a major 17.3 mile hiking trail that leads to Glacier Meadows on the shoulder of Mount Olympus.

We will cover more great sites of beauty to visit in our next post!

Hiking in Western Washington

There are an unbelievable amount of opportunities for hiking in Western Washington.  If you enjoy the great outdoors, unique and lush flora, fauna and even some unusual insects, we have an abundance of beautiful settings to explore. There are hikes for the novice, hikes for the enthusiast and hikes for the lifestyle hiker. You can adventure on a rugged ocean front, mountains and meadows, lakes and waterfalls, rainforest or river, grasslands or gorges, even a volcano or hot springs! There are limitless options; the question will never be “What is there to do?” Instead it will be “How do I decide?” Washington has 5 National Parks/Monuments, 9 National Forests, 31 Wilderness areas, and 23 National Wildlife Refuges, and that doesn’t even include State Parks or land. Over 20,000 square miles of the state is federally owned and there to explore. There are tons of great resources to help you decide!

 

To start your hiking adventure close to home, check out these highly rated hikes near Union.

  • Mount Ellinor Trail, Lilliaup, WA 5 stars about a 60 minute drive.
  • Lena Lakes Trail, Lilliwaup, WA 4 stars
  • Lower Lake Lena, Lilliwaup, WA 4 stars
  • Staircase Rapids Trail, Lilliwaup, WA 4.5 stars
  • Green Mountain Trail, Bremerton, WA 4 stars less than an hour drive

Explore Hood Canal!

OR take a grand hiking adventure!  These example are just the tip of the iceberg exemplifying the vast variety of adventures out there to help satisfy that wanderlust.

  • The Enchantments– This is THE hiking/backpacking destination in Washington located in Leavenworth (appx 4 hrs from Union). The hike is 18 miles and will take several days to complete. Camping permits are required and you’ll be justly rewarded for amazing views of all types of terrain and nature.
  • Goat Ridge Loop Hike– Enjoy wildflower meadows, mountain views, a pristine lake and waterfalls on this hike. This is an 11.6 mile, full day hike of moderate terrain and is located on the southeast side of Mount Rainier (appx 3 hrs from Union).
  • Rialto Beach Hike– For mixed difficulty levels, optional camping and rugged ocean views, this 7.7 mile hike will take a full day. This hike is located near La Push (appx 3.5 hrs from Union)
  • Goldmyer Hot Springs– Located in Snoqualmie Pass near North Bend (appx 3.25 hrs from Union), this 24 mile hike has limited access throughout the year. Reservations are recommended for access to the hot springs. This amazing hike will take you along the Snoqualmie River and across several creeks the closer you are to the hot springs. The level of difficulty increases and the trails progress, but well worth the journey.
  • Hoh River Five Mile Island Hike– Take a hike in the only rain forest in the continental US, located in Jefferson County near Forks (appx 3.5 hrs from Union.) This 10.6 mile roundtrip hike will give you gorgeous views of the river, old growth trees, quiet and serene views and maybe even some elk!
  • Ape Caves– For a truly unique experience check out the Ape Caves, 2,000 year old lava tubes located on the south side of Mount St. Helens. The caves are located near Cougar (appx 2.75 hrs from Union). The hike is short, under 3 miles, but the terrain is difficult and dark. There are great views of the volcano and re-growing vegetation from this area.

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Pacific Ocean Destinations

 

While our area of Mason County is filled with water access to Puget Sound, Hood Canal and Mason Lake to name a few, sometimes you get a yearning for the proper ocean.  Endless waters with no land on the horizon.  Crashing waves and tumultuous seas.  And maybe  you’re interested in surfing, boating or tide pools? A night on the town? Hikes and views of the Pacific Ocean? Take an afternoon or a weekend get-away and visit one of the spectacular Pacific Ocean destinations.

 

Grays Harbor Area– Located only 58 miles away from Union is Grays Harbor’s largest city, Aberdeen. Aberdeen has plenty to explore:   parks, museums, theaters, and walking trails. Just a little further along, Hoquiam is a great place to see migrating shorebirds. The Grays Harbor area is filled with history and arts, and there is also hiking, camping, walking, 50 miles of beaches, sport fishing, charter boats and much, much more. And if you’re feeling lucky, there are 4 different casinos within a reasonable distance of The Harbor. Also check out Grayland, Westport (for the surfers!), Ocean Shores, North Beach and Tokeland, all within a 2 hour drive from Union.

“A destination for all seasons…where memories are waiting to be made!”

 

Kalaloch– Located on the coast, and about 2.5 hours from Union, Kalaloch is just north of the Quinault Reservation. Kalaloch is one of the most visited areas in Olympic National Park. Hiking at Kalaloch is an excellent way to see the many species of nesting birds and other wildlife. Due to the protected nature of the area, it is considered a safe haven for thousands of marine species. Camping is available at Kalaloch and for more amenities the Kalaloch Lodge is right on the beach with rooms and cabins available.

 

La Push Beach– A scenic 3.5 hour drive from Union on HWY 101 will bring you to La Push, WA. La Push Beach is a series of beach chains called Beach one, two, and three. Beach one is fourteen miles, beach two is thirteen, and beach three is twelve miles away from the town of Forks. First Beach is the only beach in La Push that can be accessed with a vehicle. In addition to beachcombing, First Beach offers, fishing, surfing, hiking and storm watching. To get to Second Beach, there is about a mile hike from the Quileute Reservation. Half a mile offshore is an archipelago. Sea stacks are mixed throughout the small islands and are known as the Quileute Needle. Third Beach is a 1.6 mile hike from the road with views of Strawberry Bay. Third Beach is one of the Olympic Peninsula beaches which tend to consist of seastacks and driftwood. In the isolated non-developed cove at Taylor Point, there is a waterfall that falls directly onto the beach where tide pools are also featured on the north end. Being the Third Beach down the La Push, Washington coastline, it is the most secluded. However, there are multiple camp sites that put campers within 5 minutes’ walk of the ocean where Teahwhit Head blocks the way to Second Beach.

There are so many amazing places to go and see without having to travel too far away.  The ocean beaches just barely scratch the surface.  Oh the places we will go!  Stay tuned!