The end of summer doesn’t necessarily mean no more fun-in-the-sun or time spent outdoors. In fact, the Seattle-area usually has the luxury of keeping warmer weather around for a month or two past August, giving residents more time to say goodbye to summer. In order to give summer a proper farewell, folks can visit local recreational areas that may not be as accessible during colder months. The following five places are just a few local must-sees to visit in order to pay a proper homage to the end of summer by taking in breathtaking views and spectacular natural formations.
Paradise Inn At Mt. Rainier
39000 State Route 706 E.
Ashford, WA 98304
When summer is winding down and the fall colors are beginning to show, it’s almost a requirement to visit and stay a few nights at Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier. If your visit is scheduled for early-to-mid August, you may still see some beautiful blooming wildflowers in the meadows. If you miss the wildflowers, you’ll still be treated to a colorful fall landscape, so be sure to plan on hiking some of the many trails in the area to take full advantage of just how amazing nature can be at Mt. Rainier. Along with hiking, take time to visit the Longmire Museum or various visitor centers at Paradise, Sunrise, and Ohanapecosh to learn more about the mountain’s rich history.
Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
19901 Cedar Falls Rd. S.E.
North Bend, WA 98045
The Pacific Northwest has many popular hiking trails to explore and Rattlesnake Ledge is one of them. The hike is about four miles round-trip, but is considered difficult with an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet in two miles. Persevere up the mountain and visitors will be met with stunning mountain views and a bird’s eye view of Rattlesnake Lake below. Many visitors choose to stop at the ledge and have lunch before either returning to the bottom or venturing further up. The first ledge isn’t the end, so for the avid hiker that likes to be challenged, there’s an addition hike of a little over two miles to East Peak or one a little over eight miles to Snoqualmie Park.
Forest Road 8303
Cougar, WA 98616
For the avid hiker and lava tube cave explorer, taking a trip to see the Ape Cave should be at or near the top of the list. The lower Ape Cave is an easy trek, but does require some crawling or climbing at the end in order to stand in the large, hollowed-out room at the end. Hiking upper Ape Cave is very difficult because you have to climb several large boulder piles and scale an eight-foot wall, but it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime activities that takes you through an interesting underground landscape. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes and dress warm as the caves can be quite a bit cooler. There are also many people along the way that are always willing to help an explorer out, but don’t forget to bring a bright headlamp and the Northwest Forest Pass; however, if you forget both you can buy a pass and rent a lamp at the store near the entrance to Ape Cave.
Summit House Restaurant
33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd.
Enumclaw, WA 98022
There are a lot of activities that go on at Crystal Mountain year-round, but probably one of the best places to spend an evening dining among one of the most beautiful 360-degree views is at the Summit House Restaurant at the top of the mountain. For the summer months, the restaurant has an outdoor patio and the view is breathtaking as the seating area faces Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range. There’s also a section for your pups, so feel free to bring them along to enjoy the landscape with you. What’s more, visitors get to ride up to the restaurant in a Gondola, giving avid nature lovers a wonderful view of any blooming flowers.
Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway
Chuckanut Dr./Exit 231 off of Interstate 5
Burlington, WA 98233
Road trips are a common way to wrap up summer and what better way to do so than to drive or bike a scenic byway? The road first takes you through lush farmland and then on to a coast-hugging narrow road with many opportunities to stop along the way to enjoy the views and take pictures, explore, or eat a meal. There are a lot of hiking trails and an amazing beach and camping area called Larabee State Park, but be sure to bring your Discover Pass. Other activities along the way include wine tasting, a shellfish farm, and various restaurants. At only 21 miles long, visitors will want to make the most of their trip and stop at as many places along the way to take in the amazing scenery of Samish Bay and Chuckanut Bay.
Related: Best Bike Trails In Seattle
Megan B. March lives in Tacoma, Washington with her husband and daughter and is a published author of adult fiction. Prior to changing careers to become a full-time Writer, she spent more than 10 years in the Human Resources (HR) field.