Written by J.L. Haler
Alright, I already wrote about visiting the town of Leavenworth, but this post is all about my favorite feature of the city. It is such a wonderful place it deserves its own blog.
Right next to the main street in Leavenworth are several parks that run the length of the Wenatchee River; Enchantment Park, Blackbird Island, and Waterfront Park.
You all know that cities are not my thing, I much prefer the great outdoors. These parks kept me sane when I needed a break from the bustle of people and shops. And they were so close by we easily walked to them whenever we wanted. Need to get some steps in on your fitbit? Leavenworth is the town for you. So much walking!
The parks consist of well-maintained trails that meander throughout. Bridges connect the parks and make it easy to walk from one end to the other along the river. There were many spots to stop and play in the water and watch the rafters paddling by. Benches lined trails making an easy spot to stop and rest if needed.
The trails are wide and easy to walk. In the winter time you could easily cross-country ski or snowshoe among the water and pines.
When entering the park, we were greeted with a sign stating a mama bear and cub had been spotted in the area, but we never encountered any. However, we did encounter a mama quail and her babies. I love quail. They never seem to know what they are doing. It’s as if they are confused all the time. As we approached them they just ran back and forth across the path trying to figure out where to go. It was entertaining to watch. Eventually the babies and mama ran into the tall grasses for safety.
We were surprised by the lack of people on the trails. It was nowhere near as busy as we would expect with the city just a block away, but we enjoyed the quiet of the parks and the peace of being in nature.
Another cute feature of the park area was a kids only (15 and under) fishing spot. The pond was stocked with fish that were jumping out of the water. It was filled with ducks sunning themselves and paddling by and I watched a heron come soaring in from up high and drop low as it rounded a corner and swooped in front of me, and the whole time we were there we never spotted another person at the fishing pond. Peaceful and quiet.
I can’t recommend these parks enough. The trails are made for anyone to use and are well-maintained, the parks give you the sense of being in the outdoors but with the city close by, and the wildlife was abundant.
We stopped by the parks every day we were there for some quiet. If you go to Leavenworth make sure to visit the parks.
Written by J.L. Haler
For the first time ever, I found myself in a campground surrounded by fairies and steampunkers. A major change from the usual attire for camping and hiking.
Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the wedding reception of two truly unique and wonderful people. I know all of you are hoping to see a large group of 30, 40, and 50-year olds all dressed in their costumes, and as much fun as that would be, I don’t want to risk their privacy. So, no adult fairies and steampunkers for you. But what I do have... is some great photos of the park this party was in.
The party took over the group campground area of Kanasket-Palmer State Park in Washington. This state park is on the smallish size but still has sizable charm. Along with the group campground the park hosts other camping areas, including yurts for rent, and day use areas. There is a total of 3 miles of trail to hike or mountain bike. We hiked through most of the trails while there and I got my first opportunity to try out my new Peak Design Capture Clip for my camera. Woo Hoo! (And it was awesome! Also, not affiliated with them. Just like my clip.)
The forests in that part of Washington are very different than the forests around here. Much wetter, thicker, greener, and more slugs sharing the trail with you than I have ever seen here in CDA. 😊 So, make sure you watch your footing. Don’t squish the poor little shell-less mollusks. The only time I saw more slugs was the nature trails at Tiger Mountain in the Snoqualmie area. There were so many there we stopped talking just so we could watch our footing.
The trails at Kanasket-Palmer had numerous spots to stop and watch the Green River flowing past. We climbed on rocks, a fallen tree, and dipped our feet in the water. Kayaking and rafting is allowed on the Green River but is for experts only.
If you are looking for a place to gather friends and family or for a small park to set up for the night this is a worthwhile stop. It would be a great place to start for those first trying out camping.
A huge thanks to our friends for making a truly unique weekend of hiking come alive.
P.S. Don’t forget your Discover Pass when going to Washington State Parks. The money from these goes towards maintaining the parks. It is $30 for a year pass and $10 for a day pass. Definitely worth it if you plan on visiting the state parks in Washington.
Written by J.L. Haler
For our anniversary this year my husband picked an awesome hike: Serene Lake and Bridal Veil Falls. It’s just over an hour away from Leavenworth, WA and since we had never been to Leavenworth we decided to stay in town.
Unfortunately, the hike we planned was waylaid due to logging in the area cutting off access as well as my husband healing from a sprained ankle. We did end up finding a shorter hike to do, and I’ll tell you all about it in another blog.
Right now, I am going to tell you all about our stay in the quaint town.
First, Leavenworth is about a 3 ½ hr drive from CDA. Unless you are me and can’t sit still for that long. As I write this I am at my standing desk bouncing side to side on my feet, interspersed with leaving my computer to do a chore around the house……I’m not kidding.
I can sit for half an hour, an hour is pushing it, but can do. And the reason I rarely go to a movie theater is because sitting for an hour and a half to two hours drives me insane. I start getting antsy and then believe it or not my rear starts hurting from sitting too long. So, on trips my wonderful husband gets to listen to me complain that my butt hurts and I need to get up and move so help me watch for signs for a rest stop so I can get out and take a walk. "AAAGGGHHH! I'm going crazy! Where's the next rest stop?!" Lucky for me while Steve is the navigator, I’m the driver which means I can stop whenever I want to. Needless to say, we always add time on to our drive because otherwise I would be bouncing off the inside of the car like a rubber ball by the time we made it to our destination and driving Steve insane to boot.
So, in more than 3 ½ hours we made it to Leavenworth.
Leavenworth is a small town done in the Bavarian style (Bavaria is a state in southeastern Germany). The whole concept of the town was created by the city in the 1960’s. The town did renovations and restyled the businesses. They created festivals and holiday gatherings in an effort to draw people to the once popular town. The idea worked, and Leavenworth is now a big tourist destination. There are huge festivals throughout the year so if you are looking for an Oktoberfest or a winter or spring festival they are a town to check out. Also, of note. They are a fireworks free town during the 4th of July. This could be a great place for those with PTSD.
The town itself is quaint and picturesque. With Christmas lights wrapping most buildings, painted wooden signs marking each store, flowers decorating streets, and horse drawn carriage rides (I love horses). I imagine in the winter the main street is breathtaking. The town is small enough and we had a hotel close enough to the main city center that we walked everywhere. An interesting site were the skydivers in the area. Every day we would look up and see 4 or 5 people slowing floating back to Earth with the Cascades as the backdrop.
Front Street is the area where the majority of the shops and restaurants are. We walked in a shop, Kris Kringl, that has Christmas decorations year-round, similar to Christmas At the Lake in downtown, CDA. However, the one in Leavenworth is a couple of stories. And yes, they did play Christmas music the entire time we were in there. I asked one of the workers about it and was told it plays all year long. It added to the feel of the shop but made me feel bad for the employees. But none of them looked like they were ready to go insane so it was safe to shop. :)
The main strip was nice, but some of my favorite shops were on the side streets of Main and Commerical. There is a nice park area in the center of Front street that had a gentleman singing and playing the accordian several times, and other times was empty except children playing and people stopping to snack on ice cream. The main street is also undergoing some more construction.
One of my favorite things about the town was a goat. The outdoor miniature golf area we walked past everyday keeps a goat. Being the animal nut that I am that was the best part of the walk to the village every day. I’m aware that may seem weird, but I’ve always been more comfortable with animals and in nature than I ever have been in a city. Check out my goat friend in the photos.
The city has too many places to list and depending on what your interests are your favorites may be different than mine. I’ll list some of my favorite places to stop into but don’t let that prevent you from hitting the other stores. There were many restaurants and shops we didn’t make it into or didn’t spend much time in such as a Russian store and a game shop. As, I am not a shopper and have a difficult time staying indoors that much. However, my oldest kiddo is, and the whole time I was there I kept commenting on how much she would love the town and how she needs to visit it one day. I think we wouldn't see her for a week easily. I will also list some areas recommended to us that we did not have an opportunity to hit but did get rave reviews about from others we know who have been there.
Now, I did not partake in any beer or sausages. I have never been able to develop a taste for beer or wine. Give me whiskey or rum and I’m good. So, I can’t give any feedback on the brew choices. But there were countless places to stop and get a cold one. As well as, I am vegetarian so no meat products for me. But, my husband did enjoy the meals he ate. I enjoyed my meals as well and noticed it was not difficult to get vegetarian or gluten free options for those who need it.
Overall, for me. Leavenworth was a cute town. I would like to see it in the winter time, but I don’t have a driving desire to visit again, with the exception of all of the amazing hikes they have around (the hike we did coming up soon in another blog). Again, though, that is because I am an outdoors girl, I’m not a shopper and don’t really enjoy cities. My daughter however, would be able to gladly spend days there roaming the shops. She would thrive in an environment like that, she'd go in and just text me on occasion that she is alright. While I found myself feeling cooped up. There are some nice B&B’s in the area as well. So, it all depends on what you are looking for out of a vacation or trip. Leavenworth was worth seeing at least once. I am glad we went and there is one attraction to the city I haven’t even mentioned yet. It was my favorite part of Leavenworth and I’ll tell you all about it soon. It's what helped keep me sane during the times we shopped.
Overall, we had a fabulous time in the Snoqualmie area and would love to go back someday. There were so many recommended trails we didn’t get a chance to try. And we got to bring out our dorky side a bit. All over there were safety signs for slippery surfaces, falling off mountains, climbing dangerous areas, etc. So the kids and I stood in front of the signs and made the same body shapes as the signs while my hubby snapped a photo. It takes a little bit of time and work to coordinate all of us to look as if we are falling off a mountain, slipping on ice, or getting squished in an automatic gate, but it is doable as long as you are willing to ignore the askance looks directed your way. :)
If you are curious about the hikes we did check out my blogs from the last several months or click on the Washington link on the side.
Twin Falls Hike
We loved doing this hike. Right off the parking area there is a great place to put your feet in the river and play around a bit. You walk along the river for quite a while and it beautiful. Because the area is often wet, there were many muddy spots to walk through but nothing too terrible. Eventually the trail begins to ascend and when you reach the top of a hill there is a nice spot to sit and view the falls. We continued on with some more uphills and downhills and stopped along the way to take pics of the kids in a hollowed out dead tree.
Eventually, you come to a set of stairs that take you to two viewing platforms where you can get some great shots of the falls. It was nice and quiet while we were there. If you continue past the stairs you will come to a bridge that brings you in-between the falls. The trails continue on, connecting to all sorts of other trailheads, but we turned back at this point.
This hike is definitely worth doing if you are in the area
We wanted to start the day off with an easy hike and picked Tiger Mountain. We were expecting a hike but it turns out Tiger Mountain is more like nature trails. It is right off the freeway. We parked in the free parking area which means we were bombarded with freeway sounds. A short hike on a nice nature trail led us up to the actual parking area for Tiger Mountain. There is a restroom there but the bathrooms were filled with flies. We have a picture of my son trying to brave the bathroom. Hoody up and zipped, hands in sleeves waving in the air as a swarm of flies flew out the bathroom door when he opened it.
There is a nice picnic area and many walking trails of varying lengths to do. It was a very pretty area and the trails are very easy. We saw a ton of slugs which was cool. I have never seen so many slugs in my life. Also, it was great to see a different type of forest than what we have here in the CDA area.
Overall, this place is a nice location if you are looking for some well maintained, easy trails. Anybody could go here and have a good time.
Yet one more exciting tale in the Snoqualmie area in the next blog. :)
I honestly don’t know if I can say enough about how gorgeous Rattlesnake Ledge is. When we found the correct side of the mountain for the trail we were seeking we were surprised to find a lake there: Rattlesnake Lake. When we arrived, it was very tranquil. Parking is close to the lake but separate enough you don’t notice the cars and you feel you are out in nature. There were some old dead tree stumps in the water and a couple of boats. If we had time we would have gone back to play in the water. I would love to return one day and just spend a whole day at the lake.
The hike is easy to get to from the lake and in the brochures it is labeled as a moderate hike. You gain over 1100 feet in elevation in two miles. It is tough but doable. If you have ever done Multnomah Falls, in Oregon, you can do Rattlesnake Ledge. The hike up is pretty and you are surrounded by old trees. You quickly lose sight of the lake and we found ourselves noticing the completely natural area. The temperatures that day were pretty good for a hike like this. We were warm but not too hot. It was easy enough to peel off layers and continue on. Of course, most of us had built up a sweat by the time we made it to the top, except my son. He is crazy fit and hadn’t worked up a sweat. In fact, he was the only one that had a chill. Rotten kid!
We hit the top and the first thing my oldest did was say “Worth it!” The views are spectacular. You literally hike up to a ledge that is open on three sides. There were many people picnicking up there but it did not feel crowded. Although, I did have a minor panic moment when I watched a young girl balancing on the balls of her feet on the edge of the ledge to pack up her food. I kept eyeballing her to make sure she didn’t go over.
If you looked down, you could see the lake below and towns off in the distance. The view was panoramic and miles out. The cliff ledge itself had different levels to it so you could move around to see the lake more or the mountains more. Tons of birds were around because, of course, there is a ton of food on the ground from picnickers and we were also so high up.
After hanging out for a bit we headed back down, which was much easier than the up, and got caught in a downpour. We were soaked and cold by the time we made it back down to the lake but I can’t really complain about it too much. It was well worth it and since we weren’t camping out it was easy enough to get in the warm car and head back to the hotel.
I would do this hike over and over again in all seasons and be happy. And would love to return to the lake to hang out.
But wait, there's more...
Snoqualmie Point Park
On the way to look for our next hike, we had a happy accident. We had heard great things about Rattlesnake Ledge and so we put it into our phones and took off. We arrived at the destination and were a bit confused. Things didn’t seem quite right. We finally decided to ask someone and found out our phone had taken us to the wrong side of the mountain. We would have needed to hike 10 miles inland before getting to the area we were looking for. However, we did find Snoqualmie Point Park right next to us, on the wrong side of the mountain.
This area was gorgeous. A nice picnic area covered in elaborately carved wood, bathrooms close by and some walking paths near a variety of flowers. While sitting and eating you can watch all sorts of birds of prey soaring through the air and hunting. We saw wild bunnies too. And thankfully, in our viewing we never saw a bird and bunny meet. I would not have enjoyed the bloodshed on our family picnic.
There was hardly anybody there and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It felt out in nature even though there was a parking area nearby. We enjoyed a picnic lunch watching the birds and rabbits. The sun was shining; the wind was blowing. It was a picturesque area to sit and relax.
If you want a relaxing area to pack a lunch and hang out at I would recommend Snoqualmie Point Park.
Keep trekking to the next blog to find more hikes from the trip.
Snoqualmie Falls Trail
The first hike we did was the Snoqualmie Falls Trail. This begins at the top of the falls viewing area. You can literally park up next to the viewing areas and trail head. My husband got a souvenir shirt from the gift shop that says “I hiked (out of my car and took a picture of) Snoqualmie Falls”. So, once you make it through the gift shop, you can find beginning of the hike behind it. You will go .7 miles and find yourself at the bottom falls viewpoint. The trail is well maintained and heavily used so expect to see a lot of traffic. We were told that there have been people who made it down and could not make it back up the trail. We found it to be an easy trail but because of the grade could see how some might have difficulty getting back to the top. If this is the case, there is a parking lot at the lower area as well as restrooms. Someone could easily drive down to get someone and take them back to the upper parking section.
There were beautiful trees and flowers on the walk and of course the falls are gorgeous to look at from either level. The lower level has a small boardwalk and viewing platform. However, when we were there it was difficult to get a view and picture because it was so crowded, but as long as you are patient you will be able to get a nice shot. Plan on being waiting to get photos.
Overall, the walk is definitely worth doing if you are visiting the falls, but expect it to be crowded with visitors.
More hikes coming up. :)
A few months back, I excitedly booked a stay at a lodge I have been wanting to visit for years. I saw they were having a good rate and hesitated. Whoops! Talked to my husband about it and a few days later decided to book it. Rate had gone up (that’s the way it goes), but I booked it anyways because now I had it in my head we were going to go and I was excited.
The first time I saw pictures of Salish Lodge I knew that one day I wanted to visit. Being the nature lover that I am, the idea of a hotel right at the top of a waterfall appealed. I had grand visions in my head of what it would look like. Of course, my brain made up all sorts of things which were inaccurate, but the lodge was fun, the waterfall was beautiful, and we had an amazing vacation. One of the best things about our stay there was the amazing hikes in the area. So, while not right in the CDA area, the hikes are still a worthwhile thing to do if you happen to be near Snoqualmie, WA.
We loaded up the car for our stay and sang the travelling hours away. Hit a bit of construction but nothing too terrible and finally hit the Snoqualmie area. The views were breathtaking. It’s always sucky being the driver since you aren’t able to fully take in the views. In general it is considered dangerous to look to long away from the road, :) but I saw enough to love it. We eventually arrived at the lodge to discover valet parking. Valet parking weirds me out. :) I realize it is a nice service that can be beneficial in many ways but there is an independent streak in me that feels like “I am perfectly capable of parking my car since I drove it all the way here and I know how to carry luggage. But thanks.” We embraced it though and pulled our car up to the valets. Chatted them all up and found them to be extremely nice and helpful. Some had visited CDA before and others told us their favorite hikes to do.
We had a nice room that had a small balcony. Not a very good view of the falls but there were some flowers and trees planted below us. You could also see the power station that is at the beginning of the falls. Not very pretty station, but it serves a function.
The lodge had a spa on the top floor which we did not partake of. They also have a dining area that has amazing views of the falls and fantastic room service. A bit pricey, but we knew what we were getting into when we went. They also have a second fine dining restaurant we did not go to since we didn’t feel like spending $50 a plate. There is a gift shop with a variety of souvenirs including their private honey and bath supplies. Being the fancy place that it is, Salish Lodge has their own hives they use to gather the honey they sell.
Wandering outside is beautiful. To the side of the Lodge is the viewing areas for the waterfall. Along with this spectacular view there are sculptures, trees and flowers, and metal words stuck into the pavement randomly around.
The Snoqualmie Falls giftshop is a short distance away along with the Snoqualmie Hike trail head. It is all very easy to get to.
Side Story – One morning we had ordered room service. The lighting in the rooms is pretty dim and on top of my daughter’s oatmeal was a round, yellow object. She asked what it was and I honestly thought it was a slice of banana. So, that’s what I told her. My other daughter said she thought it was butter and I said “No, it’s a banana, it looks like banana.” So, daughter one scooped it up and bit into it. Then got a hilarious look on her face. She kind of mumbled around her food that it was not a banana. Apparently, it was a round of butter. So, lessons learned: Mom is not always right and eating butter straight is not nearly as tasty as eating banana. (By the way, my daughter says she can attest to the fact that I am not always right).
If you want to read more about the hikes we did read on in the next blog.
I love spending time with my family doing all the wonderful activities in the Inland Northwest.