Now that the frenzy over bargain-rate senior lifetime passes for national parks and federal recreational lands has passed, where should all these hikers hit the trail?
“Every park tells a part of the American story,” Kathy Kupper, media representative for the National Park Service wrote in an email to The News Tribune responding to our query for ideas.
“We definitely try to encourage people to discover the lesser known national parks, the sites they might not of heard of or know much about but that will more than likely enthrall them.”
To help get you started, here are some places to use the pass, with an eye toward easier trails for those perhaps not ready to summit Mount Rainier.
Keep in mind that some park entrances shut down by October, so it’s best to check status online before you go.
Details listed here include information from the parks’ own guides, other published guides and hiking groups.
Longmire, Cougar Rock area
▪ Trail of the Shadows: 0.7 miles round trip. This 30-minute, self-guided loop begins across the main park road from the Longmire Museum. You also can learn the history of Longmire Springs Resort.
▪ Christine Falls: 4.5 miles east of Longmire. Trail descends 100 feet for a view of the falls.
▪ Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls: 1 mile round trip with a 100-foot elevation gain. Starts at the northern side of the upper parking lot, next to the visitor’s center. The park notes this trail works for wheelchairs (with help) and strollers.
▪ Silver Forest-Emmons Vista: Sunrise has some challenging hikes, but one online reviewer notes, “No problem doing this one in flip flops.” Hike is 2.4 miles round trip, according to Washington Trails Association.
▪ Grove of the Patriarchs: The 1.5-mile hike begins at the parking area northwest of the Stevens Canyon entrance station. You’ll see old-growth forest with huge, 1,000-year-old trees.
Olympic National Park
Marymere Falls trail: Near Lake Crescent off U.S. 101; 1.8 miles round trip. One online reviewer noted it was a great way to see the park if you have only a little time.
Other sites (not all require passes)
North Cascades’ Trail of the Cedars: 1-mile round trip, according to Washington Trails Association. Starts at the end of Main Street in Newhalem “after crossing the suspension bridge across the Skagit River,” according to the online trail guide.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park: Entrance at 92343 Fort Clatsop Road, Astoria, Oregon. Park encompasses sites along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site: On the northern bank of the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. Facilities are open Tuesday-Saturday. Park grounds open seven days a week. The library and museum collections are open Monday-Friday by appointment during regular business hours. Check website for hours and more information on exhibits at bit.ly/2w3UBMw.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park: One of the nation’s newest national parks, its Hanford B-Reactor National Historic Landmark tours are offered Monday-Saturday through Nov. 18. Free, guided tours last about four hours.
Washington offers plenty of national wildlife refuges, including the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, 100 Brown Farm Rd NE, Olympia.
The Park Service has more ideas at bit.ly/1ha0T0j.