Rob: Gothic Basin
This hike probably ranks #1 in the PNW from an "amazing view" perspective. We've done 150+ hikes in the area, and this is right at the top of the list. Wow.Parking was full, so we had to park on the road. This lot covers a few hikes in the area, so it certainly doesn't mean the trails will be busy. On a gravel road to start, stream had washed out part of the trail so it was hard to find the continuation. Follow the river to the right to pick it up again Tons of elevation here (as you'll see from the comments in the log book), but when you get up to the basin it's simply amazing. You could stay up there for days exploring. There were a few tents set up but didn't see people in them. Little side trip at the end - we headed off-trail towards the back valley, and followed the sound of a huge waterfall. After scrambling down to a narrow ledge, we followed it around the cliff, and found a cave next to a gorgeous waterfall. The ledge was somewhat challenging, as it was about a foot wide in places, above a sheer cliff drop off. Don't attempt unless you're comfortable with heights. We decided to turn around just before the cave, as it seemed like there might be something big & furry (and hungry) living in there ;O)Bottom line - do yourself a favor and don't miss this one. Some day I'd like to go back with some decent camera gear.
Rob: PCT South from Snoqualmie Summit
This is our second time on this. Even though it's smack-dab in the middle of a hundred other hikes, this one seems so different, which is nice. The terrain here is unusual, and it feels like you're in more of an open "great divide" type of territory.Start off under the ski lifts, and up between the ridge to several small lakes. Both times we only made it to Rockdale Creek before needing to turn around due to time. The trail itself is wonderfully maintained. Very peaceful... have only ever seen a few people on it. You're up in the clouds, watching them travel. Small glimpses of the I-90. Old growth forest, scattered with some huge scree fields. We normally like to climb, and then run down... but this trail is reverse, with most of the downhill immediately after the ski-lifts. Not a good running trail for us, but definitely a good family hike with a "different" feel to it.
Rob: McClellan Butte
This was our second hike on this trail. The first time was in the spring and there was still lots of snow. We thought that was what made it a hard hike. Summer and no snow didn't make this one any easier. In our opinion, this hike is harder than Mailbox. Definitely a leg-burner. Bathrooms at the trailhead and there's lots of parking. This hike tends to only have experienced hikers that know trail etiquette, which is nice. It's well maintained and although you do have to do some walking on the John Wayne trail, it's not for long. At the end of the John Wayne trail there is a waterfall on the right. We climbed down to enjoy it for a bit before starting the long trek up. Small glimpses of the surrounding mountains. It was rather crowded at the peak so we sat just under it on a large flat rock for lunch. This is an awesome trail to run down, until you hit the John Wayne trail again.
Rob: Kendall Katwalk
We have done over 150 hikes in the PNW, and this rates as #1 or #2 for stellar, jaw-dropping views. Do yourself a favor, and hit the limited window to take this in! First part is in the forest, but you gradually climb to cliffs, canyons and extreme drops. The views are absolutely amazing. We tried this once in June but didn't get far as it was buried in snow, which makes it very dangerous. There is a small window of time to do this hike in late August. If the Katwalk has snow, there is a good chance that you'll lose the trail. The cliffs are a bit narrow in places and there is a constant wind. Definitely put this on your "to do" list... well worth the pain for the few days after. ;O)
Rob: Granite Creek
Another unmarked, unmaintained and barely noticed trail. Again on Middle Fork / Snoqualmie road, a couple of minutes past the Mailbox trailhead. On the right side of the road, there are large logs at the entrance and maybe parking for 4 to 6 cars. They call this trail an old road, but it's not. Not sure how they could have used this as a road. It's purely a trail. The area is interesting, with cliffs on one side, lots of creeks and a couple of tiny waterfalls. Most of the creeks have decent stepping stones. The larger creek has a nice new bridge. Along this trail are several benches made out of fallen trees. A sign post farther along shows you have two choices, we tried the Granite Lakes trail but it had gotten so overgrown we couldn't find the trail. We didn't see any wild life but did see lots of large cat prints. Only saw one other person on the trail and he seemed very surprised to see us. We stopped for lunch near the sign post, tightened our packs and got a bit of running down, but the trail does flatten out so it's was a small run.
Rob: Excelsior Pass
This was our final hike of the week (5 hikes in 5 days). This is a rather long hike and with a long drive home afterwards, we decided to only do half.Well maintained trail that you share with horses, so be ready and to move and give the riders notice that you're there. This is an upward climb the entire time. Nice forestry, and good views across the valley. Not really any good places to stop along the way for lunch, so maybe the end was a better destination (?).Honestly, we were just exhausted from the long week of hiking. Great run down though :o)
Rob: Horseshoe Bend
This is a nice little walk along a fast running river. We saw kayakers coming downstream, moving very fast (class 3?). We spent a long time watching the salmon swim upstream, expecting a bear at any minute.
Definitely not what we would consider a "hike"... more of a leisurely walk. Great for the family, and some cool areas to explore.
Rob: Skyline Divide
This is NOT our favorite hike. Pretty covered by the tree-line most of the way up, so not really a lot to look at (until you get up). Maybe it was just the wrong time of year to hit this trail, but the horseflies would not leave Debby alone. Attempting to sit for lunch was an utter disaster. She was under attack so badly, that we left the peak and started down, trying to find a place to stop for lunch. We pulled off just into a forest area off the trail, started to eat and she was under attack again within minutes of stopping. No idea why they attacked just her. It was a hard hike mentally, but fairly easy physically. Just be warned, the horseflies are relentless. The run down was very quick!
Rob: Heliotrope Ridge Trail
Another interesting road and drive, with a surprising amount of cars at the trailhead. Room for about 25 cars, and good bathrooms.This looked like a rather short hike but don't be misled, it's work. The trail is well maintained and graded nicely for the upward climb. You travel through several different terrains - forest, rock fields, and green fields. The best part for us were the 4+ large streams/waterfalls, There are no bridges to cross these, so you have to scramble. Be aware... as this is glacier fed, the water is extremely cold. Deb took her boots off for one of the crossings, and let's just say it was "invigorating".The last stream/waterfall to cross is very difficult as it splits apart to two streams and it's fast moving. A warning here: the streams will look MUCH different on the return trip. As the day progresses, more of the snow-pack & glacier melts, and the streams get much deeper and faster. We had more difficulty on the return trip at the split stream. We couldn't find where we had crossed, as the water was deeper and the rocks where now covered.Near the end, there are several different boot paths leading in different directions. We tried to stay on a larger trail as to not step on the vegetation. Wind your way up to the ridge, and BAM - Coleman Glacier is surreal. Pictures just don't do it justice. We climbed farther up the mountain next to the glacier and picked a nice spot in the sun for lunch. We could hear the glacier calving and water running just below it's surface. This was a great trail to run down. Pit toilet at around the half way point.
Rob: Yellow Aster Butte
Crazy drive up the "Primitive Road". Four wheel drives a must here.
Starts with some switchbacks between the forest and the meadows. Work your way up to the "kill zone" where all of the game trails converge at a swamp (see the pics of the cougar and Grey Wolf tracks).
Continue up from there to the open meadows and turn left towards the butte. Immediately into the large snowfields which were fun to cross (watch and listen for the giant marmots). The call them "whistle pigs" for good reason. They are LOUD. Amazing views from the top, with lots of places for lunch and great photo ops. Super run down (not overly techical, but fun).