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Franklin Ghost Town | A Trip Back in Time

Franklin Ghost Town | A Trip Back in Time

It’s not everyday you get to take a walk back in time, but that’s what happens when you visit Franklin ghost town just outside of Black Diamond. Located 37 miles from downtown Seattle (map), Franklin was a once bustling coal mining town. The community was established in the 1880s (before Washington was even a state), and it survived until mining jobs dried up there in 1919. The land was most recently mined between the late 1940s through 1971. If you’d like to know more about the history of Franklin click here. The most infamous moment happened on August 24, 1894, when 37 workers suffocated in mine fire. It’s still one of the deadliest mine disasters ever in the state of Washington. All that’s left in the area now is Franklin ghost town, which is an overgrown, green hillside with several ruins. There is a parking lot near the site, which costs $5 per vehicle. It’s then a short trek up the hill (past the yellow gate at the end...

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Seattle Whale Watching | Puget Sound Express

Seattle Whale Watching | Puget Sound Express

Whales are truly amazing mammals, and we’re fortunate enough to have them in the Northwest. The only problem is: you rarely get to see them from shore. But spotting these stunning creatures is made much easier on a Seattle whale watching trip with Puget Sound Express. Puget Sound Express launches its Seattle whale watching tours out of Edmonds (they also host whale watching trips out of Port Townsend), which is technically 18 miles from downtown. It’s the only half-day (4-5 hours), guaranteed whale watching trip in Seattle. Yes, you are guaranteed to see whales – or – your next trip is free. Seattle whale watching tours typically take you to the San Juan Islands or through the Straight of Juan de Fuca to find orca, gray, humpback, and/or minke whales, but if you’re extremely lucky – like we were on our tour – you can spot whales right outside of Seattle. On our Seattle whale watching adventure (in early May), we found orca whales no more than 15 minutes...

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Keechelus Lake Snowshoe Trail

Keechelus Lake Snowshoe Trail

When the weather turns cold in the winter, it’s time to head for the hills – er, mountains of Snoqualmie Pass. There’s no shortage of snowy fun just outside of Seattle. Take the Keechelus Lake snowshoe trail for example! I’ll start by saying this: if you’re an experienced winter adventurer, the Keechelus Lake snowshoe trail probably isn’t for you. If you’re just getting started on snowshoes, or you simply want to stomp around in the snow, then this place is perfect. If this sounds like your type of adventure — here is a map to the trailhead. Depending on the driving conditions, it’s about an hour drive from Seattle. The Keechelus Lake snowshoe trail is groomed and it’s mostly flat. It runs along the Iron Horse – John Wayne Pioneer Trail, which was formerly a rail line. There’s an avalanche shoot about two miles into the trail, and that’s where most people recommend you turn around, making it about four miles roundtrip. There’s a mere 200-foot elevation gain along the way, meaning...

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Best Time to See Golden Larches in Washington

Best Time to See Golden Larches in Washington

Leaves change colors every autumn. It’s one of those really special times to live in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, we don’t get the same incredible colors as the Midwest or East Coast, but we get something even better – golden larches. You have to know the right time to enjoy them, though. So (a question we often hear)…when is the best time to see golden larches in Washington? The obvious answer is: there is no exact time every year. Mother Nature works on her own schedule. But there is definitely a certain time frame to keep an eye on. Golden larches are typically at their peak anywhere from late September to mid-October. I know that’s pretty broad, so here are some more precise ideas: + We’ve been to the North Cascades to see golden larches twice (click here for two great hikes to check out). Both times we were there on October 7th – both times the larches were in fine form. + According to this Seattle Times article,...

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Golden Larch March in the North Cascades

Golden Larch March in the North Cascades

It’s an annual tradition in the Northwest: the golden larch march. Hikers, tourists, and outdoor enthusiasts flock to the mountains in early- to mid-October to see larches as their needles turn bright yellow in the autumn. Tove and I are among the many who head to the hills, traveling to the North Cascades to enjoy the golden larches. On our recent golden larch march, we tackled two hikes in the North Cascades. We first strolled to Lake Ann, and then we followed that up with a trek to Blue Lake. Here’s a quick breakdown of each hike: Golden Larch March in the North Cascades Lake Ann Starting from the Rainy Pass Picnic Area (map), the hike to Lake Ann is just 3.7 miles round-trip with a 700-foot elevation gain. In other words, this is a hike for all ages and all experience levels. Start on the main trail and moderately climb for about 1.25 miles. You’ll run into a Y in the trail. The path to the left leads...

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Harry’s Ridge | Mount St. Helens Hiking

Harry’s Ridge | Mount St. Helens Hiking

Hiking at Mount St. Helens is unlike any other experience in Washington. It’s haunting. It’s beautiful. It’s fascinating. It’s downright awesome. And I say that in the truest sense of the word – it leaves you in awe of Mother Nature. The hike to Harry’s Ridge provides stunning views, a nice workout, and a journey through the unique landscape. First off, I want to provide a brief history lesson. Mount St. Helens famously erupted on May 18, 1980. The explosion devastated the surrounding area and killed 57 people, including a crotchety curmudgeon named Harry Truman. He was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake, and he stubbornly refused to evacuate his home despite the pending eruption. This hike – Harry’s Ridge – is named after him. Now to the hike itself. Harry’s Ridge is a 8.2-mile round trip adventure with a 970-foot elevation gain. It starts from the Johnston Ridge Observatory parking lot along No. 1 Boundary Trail, and you actually stay on this...

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