Pacific County precedes the establishment of Washington as a Territory. It was developed as a county by the Oregon Territorial legislature in 1851 as the third county to be created north of the Columbia River. The original county seat was Pacific City but those lands on Cape Disappointment were developed into Fort Canby and the townsfolk – such as tehre were – vacated the premises. After several moves, the county seat was established on the Long Beach Peninsula on the Wilapa Bay side at Oysterville and here it stayed until 1892 when by a vote the county seat was moved east across the bay to booming South Bend, promoted then as “The Baltimore of the Pacific”. Big plans to establish Sotuh Bend as the port terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway led to a population boom: 1889 – 150 people; 1890 – 876 people; 1895 – 3,500 people. Most of the waterfront property was given over to the railway to sweeten the deal and a local railroad was completed in 1893. The railway was never completed to Yakima in eastern Washington, however, and bust soon followed boom. Nearby Raymond, with more space for industrial land was able to entice timber industries to set up shop there and that town remains the more important economic center in the area today. The political center remains here in South Bend though. The present courthouse dates to 1911 – first construction bids were made in 1909. So-called as the “Gilded Palace of Extravagance” The courthouse features an art glass dome and cost taxpayers some $132,000 at the time. The courthouse still remains pretty much the same today as when it was originally built though a County Jail was added on in 1985. The art glass dome was refurbished in 1980 – cleaning and restoration of the crumbling soldering – at a cost of $144,700, a cost of more than the building was originally built for – of course, inflation has something to do with that.
Along the Columbia River where it meets Highway 97 is Washington's Stonehenge. Originally cast as a memorial to men from Klickitat County who died in WWI, this makes a nice pit stop if you are tired of the road. The views over the river are stunning. There is a plaque which details the history of the monument and includes a section explaining that Sam Hill had believed the original Stonehenge to have been used for human sacrifice and thus used it to illustrate that mankind was being sacrificed to war. This is free.
The Columbia River is the largest North American river that drains into the Pacific Ocean. By volume, it is the fourth-largest river in the United States, disgorging 265,000 cubic feet (7,504 cubic meters) of water per second into the ocean. Its drainage area covers parts of seven American states and one Canadian province, an area the size of France. The source of the 1,243-mile (2,000-kilometer) river is Columbia Lake, situated at an elevation of 2,690 feet (820 meters) at the base of the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. It initially flows to the northwest, turns to the east and then to the south, and enters Washington State where it turns again to the west and the Pacific Ocean.
The Columbia River has been an important part of the economy of the Pacific Northwest. It has the largest salmon industry outside of Alaska, and 14 hydroelectric dams, including Grand Coulee Dam (see my tip under "Things to Do"), generate electricity for industrial and commercial purposes for the entire region. The river also offers great outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, and hunting.
My father's friend has in-laws who own a large ranch along the south bank of the Columbia River, near Grand Coulee. Although they no longer run a lot of cattle, they use some of the land to grow grapes. They also operate a trout farm in the waters of the Columbia River.
We spent some time at the ranch, hunting rattlesnakes, and just enjoying the beauty of the Columbia River basin.
The Dungeness Spit is the longest naturally occurring sand spit in the world at 5.5 miles. With over 250 species of birds, 41 land species of land mammals, and eight species of water mammals calling it home, it is a National Wildlife Refuge and affords amazing views of the Strait of San Juan.
The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is located on the far north side of the Olympic Peninsula, about 20 miles northeast of Port Angeles.
I visited this area in 1994 but did not make it back on my most recent 2008 visit.
North Head Lighthouse was a bit less disappointing than its Cape Disappointment neighbor though still very much in the fog. You might wonder why the two lighthouses were built so close together on a clearer day but in this dense fog, it does not seem as unreasonable. Construction finished in 1898 and it stands at 65 feet though it also benefits from its setting and projects from nearly 200 feet. It was built a mere 2 miles from Cape Disappointment due to the precarious river setting, lack of visibility in general, and it being one of the windiest places in the United States. Cape Disappointment was given a thick black stripe to differentiate if from North Head since they were so close together.
North Head is located 2 miles from Cape Disappointment so four hours from Seattle and not really worth the drive unless you are a lighthouse fanatic. If you are on the Oregon Coast, give it a shot in fine weather.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is an apt name for what for us was very much a let down after visiting many stellar lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. Oddly enough, we visited these as part of our Oregon trip as they are geographically closer and surely easier to visit from there. It was hard to believe how different the two experiences were. First off, we had amazingly nice weather at the lighthouses on the Oregon Coast and that very day in Astoria, OR. But after driving across the Astoria Bridge and following Highway 101 for less than 20 miles, we were engulfed in dense fog. Talk about disappointment. But that was only part of the problem. The lighthouse was not as well kept a those on the Oregon coast. It looked quite shabby and even if the sun had been shining, it would not have compared favorably.
Cape Disappoint Lighthouse took some time to be built but has been lit since 1856 and stands 53 feet though projects from 220 feet due to its lofty perch about the sea.
It is located at the very southwestern tip of Washington State off Highway 101. It is 20 miles or 40 minutes from Astoria, OR. It would be a very long 174 mile or 4 hour drive from Seattle. Now, you're really talking disappointment!
Disc Golf is a sport played much life ball golf. Instead of holes, there are chained baskets. Trees and water hazards work the same way. Instead of a ball and club, you throw flying discs which are smaller, heavier and more beveled than "regular Frisbees" so you can throw then a lot further. I was very into the sport in 1994 and visited over 100 courses around the US.
Washington has some great disc golf courses like the great one in Tacoma and a small one in Seattle as well.
Yakima is not on on the average tourist's Washington State agenda. In fact, most people never see the arid desert area in the eastern part of the state which stands in such contrast to the lush parts west. For those who do venture there, they will be rewarded with a taste of America's Outback, an area sparsely populated with friendly locals and lots of festivals throughout the year. It is also a major area for growing hops, the flower used for adding the bitterness and dryness to beer. People from Washington State know it well and plenty flock out there to enjoy the warmer sunnier climate.
I must say I would have never gone to Yakima myself but in 1994 I went there with the sole purpose of visiting the pioneering Grant's Brewpub. What I found beside a great pub with amazing beer was a town with a wild west feel even though only 2 hours west of Seattle.
Redhook Brewing was a craft beer pioneer, starting in 1981 brewing Belgian styled beer to the confusion of beer drinkers in the area. With the switch to English styles beers and use of locally grown hops, the brewery took off and needed a bigger facility. I did a tour at their brewery in 1994 and it was free, great fun and best of all, unlimited free samples of their many fine beers. They also had a very cool pub called The Trolleyman with some of their beers served cask-conditioned.
Unfortunately, they became too big and sold out to Budweiser to gain access to their regional distribution network. This meant their beer could be found everywhere, even in my South Florida home area. It never tasted quite the same. In fact, many started calling it Budhook.
Hey, what happened? This used to be a brewery. In fact, it was one of the nicest Oktoberfest experiences I've ever had and it came about quite by accident. I was headed from Seattle to Olympic National Park in 1994 and after catching the ferry over to Bainbridge Island, a stop in the Poulsbro brewery was in order. It just happened to be the start of their Oktoberfest and much as the “real” one in Munich, the mayor of the small town came in a horse-drawn wagon with a huge wooden barrel of their seasonal Fest beer. He hammered a brass tap into it and the amber nectar flowed freely and for free for about an hour until all of it was gone. I believe they had many backups though free it no longer was.
At any rate, the began serving homemade root beer for kids and non-drinkers in 1990 and by the next year formed a permanent soda making facility due to demand. In fact, the demand became so great that they are now a soda making company and no longer a brewery. Done in by root beer. Damn, I hate when that happens. Needless to say, no stop at Thomas Kemper was made on our most recent 2008 trip to Washington though Poulsbro still deserved and got one.
Located roughly about halfway along WA 6 between Chehalis - on I-5 to the east - and Raymond - on the coast - is Rainbow Falls State Park. Rainbow Falls is a small waterfall of about five feet in height on the Chehalis River. The waterfall pool is a popular swimming hole on warm summer days when the water going through the falls doesn't amount to much. WA 6 runs along the south bank of the Chehalis and the park facilities are on the north bank. The park buildings date back to a 1935 CCC project. There was a bridge that used to cross the river here allowing dirdect access from WA 6, but if you don't want to swim, you have to go several miles - 3 miles from the east approach and 6 miles from the west approach of WA 6 - out of the way to get across the river now.
In 2007 a huge storm that was the aftermath of two tropical Pacific hurricanes roared across the northern Oregon and southern Washington coasts with winds recorded at 150 miles per hour. Driving along the coast still shows a lot of downed trees from the storm. The hills of the upper watershed of the Chehalis River recorded up to 15-20 inches of rain in the 30 hour period of the storm. Most of the hills of the upper watershed are privately owned by timber companies - Weyerhauser being by far te largest landowner. The coastal mountains of Washington State and the foothills of the Cascades for the most part lie within the orbit of Weyerhaueser and other timber companies. Many of these areas are subject to extensive clearcutting operations, which when done on steep terrain can lead to large landslides. Extensive landslides did occur in this area as a result of all of the sudden rain. The rain itself is not considered exceptional for this region, but the landslides led to debris dams forming where creeks would intersect. The upper debris dams would give way leading to water, silt and logging debris roaring downstream to knock out the next debris dam. This led to a phenomenom similiar to what happened at Johnstown, Pennsylvania - a sudden onrush of water and debris with a huge latent power suddenly realized here at Rainbow Falls where the roadbridge was swept aside. An estimated $6.5 million in damage was done to the State Park here from that one weather incident - $1.8 million just to rebuild the bridge. Weyerhauser gave $100,000 to flood victims and announced it would amend some of its logging practises for the future, though Weyerhaueser should not be held as the only culprit here as other logging company practises were probably just as responsible for the events. That same flood would go on to flood downstream towards Chehalis and Centralia causing extensive damage and closed I-5 for 20 miles for several days.
Lying a few miles west of the small town of Lyle, in the heart of the Columbia Gorge area known as the Syncline is the little valley of Catherine Creek. It is a perfect spot for a spring-time hike that will give you a better appreciation for both the geology and the ecology of this transition zone between the desert of the Columbia Plateau and the forests of the Cascade Mountains. The hike is a pleasant 2.4 mile ramble that takes you up through the oaks and meadows along the creek to a natural rock arch that lies along the wall of lava cliffs making up the east side of the valley. Best time of year is mid-spring when the flowers come out in force and the summer heat has not arrived yet. From the trailhead to reach the lava arch you bend right on a faint abandoned road - there is also a road going to the left or more straight up the hill and the paths are not signposted. The way becomes more apparent as it turns up into the valley. You come to the arch in about a half mile, but the trail/road continues up into the valley leading to a junction at 0.8 miles where you bend right and gain the top of the east wall of the valley. In another 0.4 miles across open meadows, you reach the top of the arch which is solid enough to walk out on - if you aren't afraid of heights.
One other option is to head out on the left road at the trailhead. The way becomes a faint bootpath quickly and takes you along the west wall of the valley giving you an excellent view of the lava arch and the Gorge terrain from near Hood River to The Dalles.
To reach the trailhead, turn off WA 14 onto Old Highway 8 at Rowland Lake - 5.8 miles west of the Hood River Bridge. The trailhead is 1.2 miles farther. Continuing on the road takes you back to WA 14 just west of Lyle.
From Forks to Mt. Ranier is quite a trip even without planning any stops or activities. And there is rush hours to worry about (you'll have to go through THREE citys with rolling rush hours). The road from Forks is narrow and winding. In July there will be a number of RV's to get stuck behind. Lake Quinault is wonderful for staying at the lodge and hiking. You might like it better than Forks.
That most northern pass road is very steep and windy also. You'll want to slow down and admire the view. Let me know if I can help any more. I've traveled the area for over 30 years.
Twin Falls just so happens to be the name of so many waterfalls. Some are good, some are mediocre. This one happens to be one of my new favorites even though it is fairly difficult to reach.
The falls themselves are about 200 feet (60 m) tall as they rush over the granite face into Twin Falls Lake. The outlet of this lake is the more interesting part for me since it is very difficult to get any view of, almost nobody sees the other waterfall in this area. Lower Twin Falls if you will is one of the tallest and most impressive waterfalls I have seen in the Alpine Lakes. I would estimate it at over 300 feet (91 m) and it is beautiful.
The trail (Ashland lakes Trail) winds its way past upper and lower Ashland lakes before reaching the falls. The trail is made up of boardwalks for about a mile of the 4 1/2 mile trail. The ground is fairly swamp like and that is likely why the boardwalks were built.
Twin Falls was once a VERY large waterfall. During the last ice age it became the outlet to a large glacially dammed lake. It carried the entire drainage volume of the Skagit, Sauk, Suiattle, and Stillaguamish Rivers out through this narrow valley. That waterfall must have been one astonishing sight.
Mount Pilchuck is a 6 mile roundtrip hike to the top in a slightly steep trail ending at 5324 feet (1622 m) in elevation. It will take around 3 hours and gain 2,166 feet (660 m). It is fairly heavily used so expect to pass several people.
You will be given great views at the top though. Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainer and the entire Cascade Range can be seen from the observation tower. Also along the hike you will see several large second growth trees.
Directions: Take Hwy 2 east. Take SR 92 through Granite Falls. Turn Left at three way and go a few miles for a sign for Mt Pilchuck. Follow to parking lot.
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