Best Hikes into Old Growth Forest

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Grove of the Patriarchs
Mount Rainier

Map of Grove
Difficulty:
Easy; 1.5 miles round-trip, 50-foot elevation gain 
Location: About a two-hour drive from Seattle, on the southeast side of Mount Rainier National Park, via Enumclaw. Nearest town: Packwood, 14 miles. $15 park entrance fee; dogs prohibited; nps.gov 

If you like your trees old—really old—this easy one-and-a-half-mile lollipop loop is a must. The grove is home to some of the oldest (more than 1,000 years) and biggest trees in western Washington; strolling amongst their cathedral beauty truly inspires awe. The trail winds through a stand of old red cedars before reaching a new suspension bridge, rebuilt after the violent 2006 storms left the old one a twisted wreck. Sway and bounce single file across the Ohanapecosh River to land on the island that houses the Grove of the Patriarchs, where enormous trees, protected from fire by the surrounding river, have grown to more than 25 feet in circumference (at least one is nearly 50 feet around) and 300 feet tall. Walk in hushed reverence along the boardwalk loop that weaves in between giant nurse logs, hemlocks, cedars and Douglas firs. Sit and stare for a while on one of the lovely, well-located wooden benches. Slap on another layer of bug spray; this is a boggy area, and you’ll share your adventure with vigorous mosquitoes, and, usually, dozens of happy tourists and tree lovers. Probably the easiest hike on Mount Rainier, this trail, while not paved, is wide and well used; a wonderful hike for children and grandparents.

Hall of Mosses Trail
Hoh Rain Forest

Map of Hall of Mosses
Difficulty:
Easy; .8 miles round-trip, 100-foot elevation gain 
Location: In Olympic National Park, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Seattle, via U.S. Highway 101 through Port Angeles. Nearest town: Forks, 30 miles. Dogs prohibited; nps.gov 

For Seattleites, rain, moss, ferns—and yes, slugs—are in our DNA, so it’s a homecoming of sorts to wander this forest primeval. One of the few old-growth temperate rain forests in the U.S., the Hoh offers several easy loop trails for exploring the lush vegetation, overhung with a canopy of coniferous and deciduous trees, including Sitka spruce and western hemlock of tremendous size—23 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. Start with a stop at the visitor center to pick up tree and plant guides, and to find out when the next guided Forest Service walk departs. Or grab a trail map and strike out on your own, treading the gently rolling path through a wash of wet and green forest. You like rain? This forest gets as much as 14 feet per year. You like banana slugs? Spotted owls? Spot them aplenty here. On your way out of town, consider a visit to Forks, where the Twilight series is based. (See our guide at seattlemag.com under “guides.”)

 

Seward Park
Seattle

Map of Seward
Difficulty:
Easy to moderate; as far as 5 miles, minimal elevation gain 
Location: Southeast Seattle; seattle.gov/parks 

While old-growth trees (more than 250 years old) can be found in a few parks around Seattle, only Seward Park boasts a 120-acre forest full of them. This so-called Magnificent Forest, which takes up the northern two-thirds of Seward Park, makes for a nice in-city hiking destination. Tuck into the woods from any of the 13 unmarked “trailheads” off the park’s perimeter drive (popular with walkers), and leave the bustling and noisy world of barbecuers and inline skaters behind. If you love to hike in the Cascades or Olympics, you’ll feel right at home here, whether for a brisk walk on your lunch break or for a full-on five-mile hike to make your primary-care physician proud. Besides getting your heart pumping, hiking through the old-growth forest, and perhaps imagining how the rest of our urban world once looked, may also stir your soul.

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

An intimate affair for wine lovers who get their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude
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A flight of wine awaiting tasting at one of the educational panels

If you love good wine—really good wine—you’ll want to put Northwest Wine Encounter on your radar.

Haven’t heard of it before? That’s not surprising. The inaugural event, which I attended last spring, was an intimate affair with space for just a few dozen wine lovers who got their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude on winemaking, learning about these during educational panels led by some of the region’s finest winemakers. And, of course, it helped to taste through flights of really fine wine as the winemakers offered insights and perspective.

The return engagement, on the weekend of April 28-30 (from $485/person including lodging, events and gala dinner), will follow a similar format and will once again be held at Semiahmoo Resort, a lovely spot overlooking Semiahmoo Bay, with the U.S./Canadian border and Peace Arch in view across the water. This year, there will be room for around 100 wine lovers (sign up for Northwest Wine Encounter here).


Winemakers and guests enjoying Friday night’s bonfire at Semiahmoo 

This quintessential Northwest location was chosen to complement the local wines that are the focus of the weekend. At Semiahmoo, Mount Baker frames the view in one direction, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound in another. At one time in its history, Semiahmoo was also the site of a salmon cannery. Hard to get more Northwest than that.

The 2017 winemaker lineup includes a few superstars from Oregon and Washington: Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Walla Walla’s oldest winery; David Merfeld of Northstar Winery, Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars; Tony Rynders of Panther Creek and wine grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyards. New this year is the addition of a British Columbia winemaker, Walter Gehriner of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery.

 

At last year’s events, the panel discussions were interesting, but the Friday night kick-off event was almost worth the price of admission alone. It had the air of an informal party where everyone was enjoying each other’s company. All the winemakers were in attendance, pouring and chatting about what they love most: making wine. The party eventually spilled out onto the beach where a bonfire warmed the crowd. Marshmallows optional, wine required.