Best Hikes to see Wildflowers

Two hikes boasting riotous wildflower displays and gorgeous mountain views.
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Sourdough Ridge Trail
Sunrise, Mount Rainier

Map of Sourdough Ridge
Difficulty:
Easy; 2.5 miles, 400-foot elevation gain 
Location: Two hours from Seattle in the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park. Nearest town: Enumclaw, 60 minutes. $15 park entrance fee; dogs prohibited; nps.gov

For subalpine meadows bursting with extravagant color, head to Sunrise, the highest spot you can drive to on Mount Rainier. By early August, the world-famous wildflower displays there are in their full glory; acre upon acre of vivid lupine and paintbrush, avalanche lily and fireweed. On the road to Sunrise, pull over at the Sunrise Point lookout to take in sweeping views of five volcanoes: Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak and Mount Hood. Continue up to Sunrise at 6,400 feet, where the parking lot is flanked by wildflower meadows and the massive Emmons Glacier—and a visitor center and snack bar, natch. Start at the visitor center, where you can grab maps and wildflower guides or connect with a ranger-led hike (at 1 and 3 p.m. on summer weekends). The Sourdough Ridge Trail is an easy lollipop loop that meanders along a lovely ridge overlooking deep valleys—sometimes populated with marmots and mountain goats, and blanketed with a riot of colorful wildflowers.

 

Winds of Change Trail
Mount St. Helens

Map of Winds of Change
Difficulty:
Easy, paved; .25-mile round-trip, minimal elevation gain 
Location: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument; follow State Route 504 from Interstate 5 at Castle Rock for 43 miles to large parking lot at Coldwater Ridge. Nearest town: Castle Rock, 43 miles. Northwest Forest Pass required; dogs prohibited; fs.usda.gov 

Expecting a moonscape with little, if any, signs of life, most visitors to Mount St. Helens are blown away by the wildflowers carpeting the landscape. In midsummer, the formerly decimated hills around Coldwater Ridge—just a half-dozen miles from the volcano’s still-steaming crater—are awash in all the colors of the rainbow. The paved Winds of Change Trail gets nature lovers into the thick of the wildflower displays. Recently updated interpretive panels along the way explain why the deforested flanks of the mountain make such good habitat for opportunistic plants such as fireweed, lupine, paintbrush, daisy, pearly everlasting and other wild blooms. The Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center is closed permanently, so head up the road to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, where you can look at interpretive displays and read eyewitness accounts of the 1980 eruption.

Why Olympia's 222 Market is Worth the Trip

Why Olympia's 222 Market is Worth the Trip

Olympia’s new artisan food market puts the capital city on the culinary map
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Sofie's Scoops at the 222 Market

Olympians, we apologize for invading your downtown parking. But, an artisan-style food hall like 222 Market (Olympia, 222 Capitol Way N; 222market.com) is an exciting destination and one we food lovers think is worth the drive.

At press time, the 15,000-square-foot building was scheduled to open in September, showcasing artisan food and beverage producers from around the Pacific Northwest, including Broth Bar By Salt Fire & Time; small-batch gelateria Sofie’s Scoops; and the city’s first oyster bar.

The 1940s-era building was originally the home of Olympia’s Packard car dealership and over the years has housed a variety of businesses. But, with renowned bakery The Bread Peddler as an anchor tenant for more than a decade, the building’s owners, Gray and Joy Graham, saw potential for a full-fledged food hall. They partnered with Olympia chef Lela Cross (co-owner of Capitale, Cielo Blu and Dillinger’s Cocktails & Kitchen) to handpick local, independent merchants, including a florist (Fleurae), and then hired green architect firm Artisans Group, which gutted and opened up the building’s interior, repurposing recycled lumber and Douglas fir into tables and countertops.

222 Market certainly plays a vital role in downtown Olympia’s revitalization, but it’s also pretty great for the destination-dining Seattleite. Here’s what to eat.


Photos: Sofie’s Scoops: Sofie Landis; Broth Bar: John Valls; Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar: Courtesy of Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar; Blind Pig Spirits and the Bread Peddler Crepe: Piper Backholm