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Traveling Washington 101 North (Temperate Rainforests, Ruby Beach and Cape Flattery)

Though I’ve lived at the bottom of the Washington coast all my life, last weekend was the first time I drove all the way up 101 North. We’ve just about traveled all of the 101 highway now, and Washington’s coast is not much short of Oregon’s.

We took advantage of good winter weather and traveled from South Bend, WA, up 101 all the way to the most northwestern tip of the United States, Cape Flattery. Of course we stopped at some destinations along the way, and all of them were amazing, where the temperate rainforests of Washington meet with the coastal waves.

Our first stop was Quinault, a beautiful area full of nature trails from a quarter mile long, to full backpacking trips. The largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world lives in this lush forest, as well as many other large trees and some coastal redwoods. There are plenty of waterfalls, some you can hike to and some right off of the road.

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We stayed in the Quinault lodge, though in the summer there are so many beautiful camping spots next to the Lake Quinault. This lodge is gorgeous and relaxing though, with access to trails and the lake right outside. It has a nice restaurant, pool, game room and an overall nice environment.

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The next morning we woke up and started heading further north, our next stop being Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, some of the coastal gems of Washington.

Kalaloch Beach has a famous tree called the Tree of Life or Big Tree Cave. You can see the entire root system from the beach, it grows in the air and the ends connect to the ground, above the beach.

Ruby Beach has lots of giant coastal rocks, easily accessible from the sand. One has a natural arch, others have holes through them, it is quite the site. You can spot some star fish, sea urchins and other marine life as well.

This beach is called Ruby Beach because you can find ruby clusters within the rocks if you look hard enough!

 

After this pit stop, we headed up North towards Port Angeles, I recommend stopping at Lake Crescent along the way, as it is beautiful and has a hike to a waterfall that is lovely. We stayed in Port Angeles for the night and headed west to the northwestern tip of the U. S, Cape Flattery. This is about two hours from Port Angeles and well worth it.

Located on an Indian Reservation, it is a well-kept trail with handmade walking sticks for anyone in need. The trail is wooden and an absolute gorgeous two-mile hike, round-trip. There are several viewpoints along this trail, and every one is worth seeing. You can see coastal rock caves where the ocean meets, many coastal rocks and an island not too far from the edge of the cape with a lighthouse.

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The northwestern tip is nothing short of magical, and every step to get there makes the adventure even more beautiful.

 

 

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Cape Kiwanda – Pacific City, Oregon

Cape Kiwanda is my favorite cape on the Oregon coast, and that says a lot because Oregon is full of beautiful coastal lines.

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The best thing about the Oregon coast is it’s Oregon Beach Bill, which allows you to wander anywhere your heart desires on the beaches, as the beaches belong to the people and are protected from being owned or industrialized. So many signs can say to not go beyond this point or something, but it’s more of a warning.

Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, a small, simple and beautiful town that I love so much! The beach is a very public beach and not hard to find, it also has Pelican Brewing (which has great beer) right on the beach, which is a perfect place with outdoor seating to enjoy the view of haystack rock and the sunset.

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There’s also a good amount of waves to surf, which many people do here. If your entering the beach, you’ll see a huge sandhill to the right, climb this and you will be on top of Cape Kiwanda.

Once you get on top of this sand hill, there is so much to space to wander, and so many views to see, make sure not to miss a single one and to experience it as best you can, ignoring the warning signs!

Also, make sure to take the scenic view to get to Pacific City, which allows you to see two other capes before Cape Kiwanda, it’s called the three capes scenic drive. You’ll take a right about 20 miles before Pacific City to take this route, there will only be one sign, so much sure to keep a look out for it.

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Map location and directions here

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Cape Disappointment, WA

The Washington coast goes a bit unnoticed when put next to the beautiful Oregon and California coast. This coast is unique in so many ways and gives an entirely new moody feel of the ocean. The Washington coast contains lots of rain, wind and fog but it is also what makes it so different and a must-see experience.

Cape Disappointment State Park is located in Ilwaco, WA, very close to Astoria, OR and has many wonders to see within the area full of beautiful temperate rainforests.

When you first enter into the park, each side of the road are covered in greenery, there are a few lookout spots that tell the history of the area, like Beardman’s Hollow. There are many wooden bridges throughout the park as well that work well for photography!

This cape contains two lighthouses, the first you will see is the North Head Lighthouse, which is only a quarter mile, easy hike. Of course it tells you to not go close to edge of the cape, but many people had already crossed the fence so I found no harm in doing the same. The view is gorgeous and you can walk far out onto the grass-covered cape to see the Pacific Ocean.

The next lighthouse is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, this trail is a half mile and a bit more difficult. There are many hills, but it is a very pretty hike with access to beaches along the way.

Along the way you’ll run into Dead Man’s Cove, one of my favorite views of the coast, especially when the lighting is just right. You have to walk down to the beach if you want the best view, but no matter how you see Dead Man’s Cove, it is a spectacular view.

Once you get to the lighthouse, the view overlooks all of Ilwaco and Astoria, you can see the Astoria bridge and all the boats coming in from the ocean into the bay area. The view is perfect for some photographs.

Within the Cape Disappointment State Park you will also have the chance to see Fort Canby and many of it’s batteries as well as the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

 

Find the Location here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Places To Travel In The PNW

So many times, I’ve heard of people wanting to travel outside of the U. S, before exploring the wonders of this very country. I was once that person, but I have discovered that there is so much beauty so close to our homes.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and never realized that it is a prized area to live until I chose to explore it. Here are my favorite places I would recommend to anyone wanting to explore the outdoors of the PNW.

Washington:

Olympic National Park:

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The Olympic National Park is a broad place to mention, but every waterfall and every trail at this park is unlike any other in Washington state. There are waterfalls every 10 miles or less (my favorite is Rocky Brook Falls), it is full of temperate rainforests and located so close to the beautiful salt waters of Washington.

Vance Creek Bridge:

This 422 feet long famous railroad hovers 347 feet over Vance Creek and is located right outside the Olympic National Forest. It is the second highest railway in the U. S. Directions to this cannot be found on Google maps, possibly because it is considered trespassing on land owned by a logging company and there are many ways they have tried to keep hikers out, like signs, knocked down trees and gates.

The bridge is in Shelton, you’ll take NF-1700 for a while before turning onto NF-23, where it is right off to the right. You’ll see lots of knocked down trees and a gate near the entrance. Many of the articles I read made it seem like it was dangerous to go and you could be arrested, but I did not run into any cops, any logging trucks or security of any sort. The hike is about a mile long, but not difficult and well worth it! The bridge is spectacular, surrounded by trees and covered in art by the last rebel hikers. It’s an adrenaline rush to walk on this massive abandoned railroad, surrounded by trees. The beginning portion of the bridge has been taken down, though you can still reach the wooden part of the bridge if your brave enough! I recommend anyone to see this bridge before it is totally demolished.

Lower Lewis Falls:

Unfortunately, I am yet to see this amazing waterfall, but it is next on my to-do list. It is a wide, gorgeous waterfall located in the south/east portion of Mt. Rainier National Forest.

Palouse Falls:

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This waterfall is one of Washington’s largest. Located in Lacrosse, in west eastern, WA. You can get a stunning view of the enormous waterfall before taking the hike down towards the waterfall that can be difficult at times and has many alternate routes. You’ll see another waterfall before reaching an overlook of Palouse. There is a small trail down to the bottom of the falls, leading into a small lake as well.

Rattlesnake Ridge:

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This is a wondrous two hike located in North Bend. It starts off at Rattlesnake lake and you hike to the top of a wide ledge, where you can see the bright blue lake from above. It is quiet the site!

Cape Flattery:

Another natural wonder I have yet to see, but will be soon! Cape flattery has to be one, if not the most beautiful, cape in Washington state. This cape is located on the very top of the state, on the western edge.

Oregon:

Cape Kiwanda:

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I shall admit, the entire route down 101 south through Oregon is absolutely stunning and a must-do summer trip! There is a route right outside of Tillamook, called Three Capes Scenic Route. Unfortunately, I had missed the turn to this route and missed the other two capes, but Cape Kiwanda is quiet possibly Oregon’s most beautiful cape.

It is located in Pacific City, it starts off as a popular beach and you walk up the sandy hills to stand on the cape. There are many signs and gates that tell you that beyond this gate is dangerous, but it is important to keep in mind that Oregon’s Beach Bill states that the people may still roam wherever the please, as the beaches belong to the people.

Tamolich Blue Pool:

This is one of my favorite locations in the PNW! The tamolich blue pool used to be a waterfall, but after a volcanic eruption, the waterfall was covered with lava rock. The water now seems from the bottom of the rocks and slows the water down enough to create a clear, still pool that is the most brilliant blue you’ll ever see. It is spectacular!

The blue pool is located off of the Mckenzie Highway and was a little difficult to find, as there are no signs off the highway. You’ll turn on NF-730, which leads to the trailhead, it is a two mile hike and not difficult. You can walk all around the water and there are several places to cliff jump into the frigid water, though you can also walk around to get right into the water.

Crater Lake:

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This magnificent location shares a special place in my heart. Crater lake is in central Oregon and is one the top places to see the in the Pacific Northwest. This lake lies in the Cascade Range, it used to be a volcano named Mount Mazama. This volcano had a massive eruption that caused the mountain to implode on itself, forming a giant crater that filled with rain and snowfall. It is also a magnificent blue and surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

I recommend coming to this place in the early morning. We showed up around 7am, when the water was still and there were some clouds in the sky. The reflection of the mountains and the sky coming off of the lake was like pure magic, it took a few moments of staring to really understand where the water started. It was absolutely stunning, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You can hike many trails at Crater Lake National Park and drive around the entire crater.

There is one area that you can hike a mile down to cliff jump into 2000 feet deep beautiful water, called Cleetwood Cove and it is an absolute must!

Toketee Falls:

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This waterfall is not far from Crater Lake, when leaving the north entrance, it is off highway 138. The hike is about 1.5 miles and not very difficult. There is a viewpoint that allows you to see the waterfall, but viewpoints are never quiet good enough… So there is a rope next to the main viewpoint area and a sign telling you not to go down to the waterfall, but many have done it anyways. The rope is absolutely necessary, as it is very steep getting down to the falls, but well worth it. The water is the perfect place to swim, but very cold!

Proxy Falls:

One of my favorite Oregon waterfalls! It is about 226 feet tall and flows beautifully, close to the rock wall. The hike is almost two miles and not difficult.

Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor:

This is several different pull offs off 101 south in Brookings, OR. Each pull off is so gorgeous, full of capes and natural arches that you can hike to. It coordinates with the gorgeous Oregon coast trail.

Painted Hills:

An absolutely magical place, where the desert hills are decorated in vivid color, in central/eastern Oregon. It is an absolute must see and should be a wonder of the world!

California:

Redwood Forest:

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This forest is located in many places in northwest California; the tallest trees on Earth, reaching over 300 feet tall! All the forest areas are full of wonder and are a must see right next to the coast! Some trees were at least ten feet in width!

McArthur Burney Falls:

This waterfall is one of Earth’s ten wonders of the world and located in northern California near Burney, CA. It spans 250 feet wide with numerous falls, surrounded by luscious forest.

MossBrae Falls:

Another stunning waterfall with a wide span, this waterfall trickles against a rock wall, covered in bright green moss. It is a very unique waterfall and I love the way that it flows! It’s located in Dunsmuir, CA.

Lassen Volcanic National Park:

This park is covered in colorful desert and also bright blue waters, which makes a gorgeous combination. Full of clear, blue lakes, waterfalls and mountains.

Many people do not consider southern California as the Pacific Northwest, but if it were, I would mention Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree Park. Both unique and stunning locations.

It is difficult not to mention even more places within the PNW, but the area is covered in natural wonders.