Blue Lake, Cascade Mountains. Washington State
The view was outstanding and well worth every step it took us to get there. We were hiking during one of those perfect mid-June days that are often illusive in the Pacific Northwest. Breathtaking colors, stunning reflections, and magnificent geography surrounded us. Our destination was Blue Lake—a pristine lake nestled below a line of giant peaks and spires in the North Cascade Mountains off Highway 20. The 2.2-mile hike to the lake took us through a shady forest that eventually opened to pretty hillside meadows. Small tumbling creeks crossed our way and rocks dotted the path. It was a gentle climb, perfect for a summer day. Bring your lunch, journal and camera. You’ll find ample space for sitting, plenty of picturesque scenes, and wonderful mood-boosting energy. BONUS: For quiet contemplation, walk to the top area of the trail to find secluded areas with scenic views.
Astoria, Oregon State
I’ve visited Astoria many times, and never tire of its eclectic vibe. You’ll find historic homes and buildings, fun breweries, upscale restaurants, coffee houses, resident sea lions, a riverfront walk, and giant ships waiting to head up the mighty Columbia. Its location near the mouth of Columbia River gives it that great blend of nature and city that I am always drawn to. It’s home to an impressive bridge that spans the river, linking Oregon and Washington states. To me, it looks like an architectural piece of art. And I’ve had the experience of seeing the bridge up-close while walking across it during the “Great Columbia Crossing,” which is an annual 10k walk/run held each October. Bonus: It’s a great base for exploring many state parks along the northern Oregon and Southern Washington coasts.
Second Beach. Olympic National Park. Washington State
This beach is accessed via a .7 mile trail that’s slightly downhill, with the final descent on wooden steps. You’ll have to cross a small pile of driftwood to reach the beach. For a good stroll, head south. The beach is long enough to get a good pace going. Stop every so often to scan the water and sea stacks for swimming and hauled out sea lions, seals and other marine mammals. Head north to explore tide pools. You’ll discover a rich intertidal community with hundreds of tiny sea creatures living in rocky pools of water. Plan your visit during low tide to discover their hidden world. Mussels, anemones, barnacles, and hermit crabs are among the many creatures you might spot.--all fighting to survive the heavy wave shock from changing tides. Second Beach is a place of spectacular beauty. I’ve visited time after time and never tire of it’s magnificence. I always walk back up the trail feeling inspired, energized and happy. Bonus: Bring a journal or notepad because after a walk along this beach clarity is only a scribble away.
What are your favorite places to explore in the summer? Share with us your travel plans for the summer? Do you love to kick back in the summer or get on the go?