November 19, 2013 at 6:00 AM
After a few false starts and final construction delays, a new 1.6-mile segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail opened Thursday, making it possible for cyclists to travel a scenic 34 miles of the Columbia River Gorge without using Interstate 84.
The new trail segment, which was dedicated in September, is complete except for minor detail work, including landscaping. The $8.1 million project is the final link in a 34-mile scenic bike ride from Troutdale to Cascade Locks, Ore., on 26 miles of the Columbia River Historic Highway and 6.5 miles of shared-use path on the State Trail. Ultimately, the trail will extend to Hood River, Ore.
The new 1.6-mile trail segment includes:
- A new 12-foot wide paved path accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, hikers and people using wheelchairs.
- A distinctive new 76-foot long, 16-foot wide bridge over McCord Creek reflecting the craftsmanship of the original highway design.
- A new picnic and rest area with restored views of Beacon Rock.
- A link with U.S. Forest Service Trail 400, connecting to Elowah Falls.
November 12, 2013 at 2:01 PM
The Whistler Mountain half of British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb ski resort will open this Saturday, Nov. 16, the resort announced Tuesday. The opening comes 13 days earlier than originally planned, thanks to cold temperatures, natural snowfall and productive snowmaking equipment, resort officials said.
British Columbia’s Big White ski resort, near Kelowna, has also announced a Saturday opening.
With five lifts running at Whistler, skiers and snowboarders will have the option to upload from either (more…)
November 7, 2013 at 5:08 PM
Take a look at the webcam for Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise and you’ll see that snow is starting to pile up at Mount Rainier National Park. As visions of snowshoes dance in park lover’s heads, park staffers are preparing for winter operations and visitors.
“Mount Rainier provides outstanding winter recreation opportunities and has been doing so for over 100 years,” Park Superintendent Randy King said in an email. “It’s a wonderful time to visit the park and area, provided visitors come well-prepared for the snow and road conditions. Safe backcountry travel in winter requires an especially high level of preparation, caution, and knowledge.”
The park will transition to winter hours of operation and service on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Here’s a roundup of what to expect all winter: (more…)
October 30, 2013 at 6:02 AM
Two new chairlifts are nearing completion at Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in British Columbia, and an email in my inbox with video of the helicopter-assisted construction this week is a reminder of a couple of things:
- Snow-sports season is just weeks away — or sooner, if we get a repeat snowstorm like we saw at the start of this month.
- Our Seattle Times snow-sports section is coming as a special issue of NWTraveler on Nov. 17. An update on Whistler attractions will be our cover story.
Here’s the video, showing the piecing together of the new Crystal Ridge Express, a high-speed quad in Blackcomb Mountain’s Crystal Zone, and the Harmony 6 Express, a high-speed six-seater on Whistler Mountain.
Whistler plans to open Nov. 28, or sooner if enough snow flies.
October 21, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Foggy weekend skies were gray, but autumn colors on maples, oaks, ginkgos and more added blazes of orange, yellow and crimson that kept me “wow”-ing everywhere I went. Even my Monday bike ride to work along Westlake Avenue, skirting Lake Union, was lit up by maples as bright as my day-glo biking jacket.
Did you take a fall drive or bike trip — around the county, across the Sound, or over the mountains — and find swoon-worthy autumn colors? Scroll down to share your photo (and see what’s come in from others). No backyard photos, please, just places others can visit.
Please include information about where and when the photo was taken. No prizes, just glory.
And while you’re at it, take our poll:
October 17, 2013 at 10:28 AM
“When I put the flag up today it felt so good,” said Ranger Maureen McLean at Mount Rainier National Park, as Rainier and Washington’s other national parks reopened Thursday.
They were among hundreds of parks, monuments and historic sites across the nation reopening after the 16-day government shutdown.
Park gates and some visitor centers are open, but it might be a couple days before all is again running smoothly. At Rainier:
- Gates were open Thursday morning, with the normal $15 per vehicle admission fee. Paradise and Stevens Canyon roads are (more…)
October 15, 2013 at 6:01 AM
Snow geese have arrived early in the Skagit Valley. Is it a sign of a harsh winter to come? Are the caterpillars extra furry? Or does it just mean the geese like our mid-October sun breaks?
Haven’t measured the caterpillar dreadlocks, but I did spot a farm field of white — with bobbing, goosey heads and an occasional wing flap — in the distance from the Dike Road, just outside Mount Vernon, on Saturday.
Friends who live there confirmed the arrival of geese, though they don’t expect trumpeter swans until November. (Swans hang out across the road from their Britt Slough farmhouse; when their college-grad son visits he complains that their honking keeps him awake.)
We spent the day up there pressing homemade cider from bushels of apples our friends harvested from three old trees behind the house. We had no idea what types of apples they were; some were reddish, some were green, some were a bit of both. We just piled in whatever was washed and ready for the press. With no recipe whatever and no added spices, (more…)
October 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM
You can be sure that Congress is getting itchy when even hunters are squawking about the federal government shutdown.
A release Friday from the National Wild Turkey Federation notes that “countless hunters depend on federal lands for their hunting activities, and the closure of lands controlled by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies is placing an unfair burden on sportsmen.”
National parks don’t actually allow hunting, but we’ll let that go by for now.
The group raises an issue that is confronting outdoors folk of every ilk: (more…)
October 9, 2013 at 11:17 AM
With October sunshine and chilly nights turning leaves to gold and scarlet, are you ready for an eye-popping fall-color road trip combined with some fun natural-history education? Follow the morning sun to Republic in Eastern Washington now through Monday for celebration of National Fossil Day.
Fossil Day is being celebrated with a long weekend of events around Republic’s renowned Stonerose Interpretive Center, dedicated to the study and preservation of fossils from the Eocene Epoch, some 50 million years ago, when the area was covered by a great lake.
Lake-bottom sediment turned to shale that has preserved leaves, twigs, insects and fish from the era. Besides taking in the best fossil displays at the center, visitors can pay a $5-$8 fee to visit the nearby fossil site and excavate on their own (hammers and chisels available for rent, $5). You’re allowed to take home up to three finds per day if they are not deemed of scientific value or significant to the Stonerose collection.
The Fossil Day celebration will include (more…)
October 1, 2013 at 12:58 PM
If you’re planning an outing to a National Forest or National Park, expect to find closed gates in many places, and good luck nailing down information on where you’re heading: Basically, staffers have almost all shut the doors and gone home, or aren’t answering phones, because of the federal government shutdown.
A phone call Tuesday to the Outdoor Recreation Information Center at Seattle’s REI store, usually a good source of information on both National Forests and National Parks, got this recorded message: “Because of the federal government shutdown we have been furloughed. We cannot check phone messages until the government reopens.”
National parks and their campgrounds are closed, and rangers are giving backcountry hikers and campers 48 hours to get out of the parks. Try to even check the Mount Rainier (more…)
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