Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Umm… Hello, Meatball here! Hope you’ve all got wagging tails out there!
Today I’d like to talk a little about one of my favorite hobbies: hiking.
While, admittedly I’ve slowed down these days, I used to do a ton of hiking with my Dad. I still like to get out for shorter hikes, but now Dad brings the youngins, Satori or Cash, on the longer ones, knowing I’ll be too sore the day after. Darn puppies... I tell you, getting old ain't for sissies!
Before we get to the hiking list, here are a couple of real quick tips on hiking etiquette if you’re new to the sport:
1. Don’t litter.
That includes leaving dog poop bags along the trail! This is true even if they’re compostable like our awesome Zoorentiy bags – or if you intend to grab them on the way back. Everyone came to experience nature and seeing garbage ruins that for everyone. Also, don’t put litter in the outhouse toilet!
2. Keep the noise down.
Barking should be discouraged. Talking with your friends of course is fun and fine, but try to keep the noise down to a normal conversation level. Don’t be that guy with the radio blaring or people yelling and shouting instead of talking. Again….we're all out to enjoy nature, ya know… that’s why you drove out to the woods!
Don’t think everyone has the same taste in music as you or wants to hear about what the latest "around the water bowl" gossip is at work.
3. Pull over.
If someone clearly wants to go faster than you and pass you on the trail, just let them. Pull over to the side, say hello and let them get ahead of you. This is true especially if you’ve got a reactive pup (or you are one- you know who you are!). Enjoy the quick break.
As well, typical etiquette is for those descending to yield, but if it’s easier for you on your way up to move over then do so. Be cool, courteous and remember to enjoy yourself
4. Dogs don't all need to meet.
Sometimes it's better if we just go by each other. Just like you don't run up and hug everyone you see, we don't need to meet every dog we come across. Some dogs don't want to- and sometimes we're just having a bad day even when we're normally good, social dogs.
If you have your dog meet another, limit the "face time" to 2 seconds, then redirect by turning your dog around. Butt sniffing time should be limited too, but this is preferred over face to face meetings. It may seem gross to you, but butt sniffing is our version of a handshake!
5. Be prepared.
Bring water, snacks and layers of clothes in case the weather changes on you. Don’t forget a bowl for your pet too! We need lots of water and certainly won't complain about a little snack. So either be prepared to share some of your lunch or bring some treats!
Now, on to the fun stuff.
Here are four of my favorite local hikes. Two are easier and two harder, in both Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass Regions. Each one is great for different reasons! So read on, then grab a leash and get out there!
Little Si – North Bend – Snoqualmie Region
Discover Pass required for parking
3.7 miles, roundtrip. 1300ft gain with a highest point at 1550ft.
Little Si is a great hiking for beginners or pros. While not exactly an easy hike, it’s relatively short and easy to follow the trail as it’s well traveled and maintained.
The trail offers a lot of fun variety. Some areas are fairly flat, while other areas get quite steep. You’ll find yourself navigating over tree roots, exposed rock faces and dirt trails all while nestled in a gorgeous Pacific Northwest canopy of trees overhead. Don’t even think about trying to mark them all or you’ll be so dehydrated, there will be no chance you’ll make it to the top.
A little more than halfway up you’ll come across an area with really tall towering trees, but far less density, creating a bit of clearing. On your left will be some huge boulders and a large cliff wall. You may see some people with ropes and harnesses – on them, not their pets. For those of you with the skills and knowledge, Little Si offers a great natural rock climbing opportunity. Just be sure not to bark to much at them, they’re working hard and need to maintain their focus.
Once you reach the top, provided the weather is clear, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view. From here you can take in the peaks of Big Si, Mount Washington and an amazing valley vista. The rock formations here terrace down a bit, giving an opportunity to spread out a bit. Just be sure to keep a leash on dogs and eyes on children as some of the drop offs can be quite dangerous. Especially the lookout just before the peak that looks down onto that climbing wall you passed on the way up.
Enjoy a snack and water. Take a few pictures and then enjoy the descent.
Pro Tip: Little Si gets very busy in the summer. It can be quite difficult to find parking and the trail can get a bit congested so I recommend getting an early start.
Mailbox Peak – Old Trail – North Bend – Snoqualmie Region
Discover Pass Required for parking
5.4 miles, roundtrip. 4000ft gain with a highest point of 4822ft.
Mailbox is known for being a pretty aggressive hike. It’s fairly short for the elevation gain and sure to get your thighs burning.
Mailbox Peak presents you with two paths. I recommend the old trail. The new trail is good too, but it’s another 4 miles and just not as much fun. Being longer, it isn’t as steep of a climb, but if you’re in good shape and want a challenge, the old trail is the way to go.
For the first part of the trail you’ll find yourself walking along a dirt trail thru a dense forest. It quickly gains momentum pushing you up the mountain. Expect to lose the trail for parts of the hike. There are white markers on some of the trees, but keep your eyes out as you climb straight up and you should pick up indications of the trail along the way. Being a fairly popular hike despite its challenge reputation, if you’re going during the summer you’re bound to run into other hikers to help keep from getting lost.
Once you make it up high enough, you’ll start to notice the trees getting a bit smaller and the occasional glimpse of scree boulders down the mountain.
Eventually you’ll hit the tree line and the trail opens up to a field of grass and boulders. The trail to the peak should be visible at this point. Keep those paws moving, it’s still a brutal climb at this point, but the end is in sight!
At the top, you’ll find the mailbox for which this hike is named and a great view. On a clear day, you’ll have a beautiful shot of Rainier in the distance. As gorgeous as it is, the old trail really is about the journey.
Pro Tip: People leave presents in the mailbox. So, if you want to take something, leave something. Just make sure it’s good spirited and fun… after all, whoever next looks in that box had to make the climb too.
Bridal Veil Falls – Index – Stevens Pass Region
Northwest Forest Pass required for parking
4 miles roundtrip, 1000ft gain with the highest point at 1600ft.
Bridal Veil Falls is a fun beginner hike with an amazing waterfall as the payoff for your efforts!
The first part of the trail you’ll find to be relatively flat and a fairly wide mainly dirt trail. There is a slight incline, but nothing to challenging.
There will be a few small streams to pass, so either expect wet feet or be able to balance on some smaller rocks to skip over…. Or in my case, get your parents to pick you up until you’re across!
Keep on the lookout for a sign that will direct you to a split in the trail off to your right. This will take to you on a smaller trail up the mountain towards the falls. This incline consists of dirt trail and steps that will lead you to the bottom part of the 100ft falls. It’s a lot of steps to get up, especially for little legs like mine, but well worth the effort.
I don’t like water, but even I was surprised at how amazing it was to be right up next to falls. It’s an incredible amount of water and quite impressive. Do be careful with your pets and kids, it’s a swift current downhill from here, but with caution, you should be able to get fairly close to the waterfall safely.
Pro Tip: This trail too can get pretty full in the summer, so an early start is best. Parts of the trail too often get pretty muddy, so expect to get a bit dirty. You might want to consider one of our Zoorenity waterproof and easily washable pads for your pups car ride home!
Lake Serene – Index – Stevens Pass Region
Northwest Forest Pass required for parking
8.2 miles round trip, 2000ft gain, with the highest point at 2521ft.
If you’re feeling liking like you want a bigger challenge after or instead of Bridal Veil Falls, you can continue up the path to the source of all that water up to Lake Serene. This is a beautiful hike, but definitely a bit more challenging.
I’m not going to lie, if you’re new to hiking, this is a pretty challenging hike that seems a bit deceptive with that first easy part to the falls trail. In fact, we once took some friends and their big ol’ German Shepard, Bear, who couldn’t make it and had to turn back. Mind you, Bear is not the most athletic pup (hehe… he did get stuck high centered on a fallen tree over the trail) but something to keep in mind. However, if you go for it it’s well worth the effort!
The first part of the trail is the same as Bridal Veil Falls. When you get to the sign with the split for the falls, you’ll instead continue to forward down the path. Shortly after the split you’ll come to a pretty cool big rock face, that depending on the time of year, is likely to have a much smaller waterfall.
To cold for me, but during the winter, this smaller fall will sometimes freeze over when cold enough to produce a pretty frozen waterfall.
The trail at this point narrows into a fun mix of dense, giant trees, exposed rock faces and dirt trails. I always love seeing trees growing out of and over rocks. You’ll cross additional various streams and be challenged with some large natural rock steps.
When you’re getting close the trees open up to reward you with your first views of Mount Index. It gets pretty dang steep at this point, but keep going, the lake is well worth all the panting.
The lake itself is a gorgeous alpine lake with the impressive sheer face of index towering another 3000ft above it.
There is a nice big slab of rock, perfect for enjoying lunch on and hopefully some sun. And if you’re crazy and want to cool off, a good place to take a dip, but expect it to be extremely cold! I see people shaking and chattering even in the summer heat because the water is just above freezing. Silly people.
Pro Tip: Same parking as Bridal Veil Falls, so get crowded in the summer. If hiking in winter, be sure to check avalanche danger, there are a few sketchy areas to consider with a lot of snow.
If you enjoyed these suggestions, stay tuned for another set coming soon and keep on wagging!