It would seem that the best way to celebrate the Fourth of July would be to pursue a little happiness.
Or maybe even a lot of happiness, if you planned well and turned Independence Day into a five-day weekend.
Campgrounds and quiet trails can be hard to find during summer holidays, but there are plenty of options. In fact, some of those options are especially patriotic.
So, as you look for places to celebrate, we offer these five ideas.
FOURTH OF JULY PASS
Ironically, if you hiked to Fourth of July Pass on the Fourth of July you wouldn’t be able to see any fireworks.
“You wouldn’t be able to see much of anything,” said North Cascades National Park ranger Lin Skavdahl. “The pass is in the woods so it’s hard to even know you are there unless you know where it is.”
The big payoff on this nearly 10-mile hike is along the way. The hike starts at Colonial Creek Campground off state Route 20 and follows Thunder Creek. Then the hike turns uphill for a 2,000-foot climb to the pass. Skavdahl says there could still be some snow on the trail. While there are trees, they thin out the higher you hike allowing views of the Neve Glacier.
“It’s pretty impressive,” she said.
Colonial Creek Campground is also a good spot for launching other adventures. You can paddle into three boat-in campsites on Diablo Lake. Buster Brown, Thunder Point and Hidden Cove are all short paddles and a free backcountry camping permit is required from the Marblemount Ranger Station.
You can also portage over the Ross Dam to paddle Ross Lake as far north as Canada. However, Skavdahl, says the lake, a reservoir on the Skagit River, won’t be at full pool until August. “Then it starts to look more like a lake,” she said. “That’s when most people visit.”
Ross Lake Resort transports canoes and kayaks over the dam for $25 each way.
Fees: There is no entry fee for North Cascades National Park. Camping at Colonial Creek Campground is $12 per night and is first come, first served.
The dot is there on the map, but finding information online on this small crossroads south of Olympia is a wee bit difficult. Still, it makes for a good starting point for adventure in southern Thurston County.
If you like to fish, Independence is on the banks of the upper Chehalis River. During the season, one can fish for chinook and coho salmon and steelhead.
Nearby are the Black River and Scatter Creek wildlife areas. The Black River unit offers bird-watching for upland birds and fishing access on the namesake river. At the larger Scatter Creek unit, you’ll find a mix of prairie, riparian, wetland and forest habitats. The area is popular for running hunting and families dogs, wildlife watching, hunting, horseback riding, picnicking and fishing.
From Independence, you’re just a few miles from the Cedar Creek entrance to Capitol State Forest. The southern half of the forest is open to horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. To the west are multiple entrances to Lower Chehalis State Forest. While there are no developed recreation sites within the forest, it is open for nonmotorized day-use. The area is popular for hunting, as long as hunters don’t mind walking in. Visitors parking at the gate need a Discover Pass.
Perhaps the most unique destination in the area is the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. Created in 1976, the 637-acre preserve protects the odd landscape of humps, most of which are 6-8 feet tall. While there is plenty of speculation – from glacial debris to aliens – no one is sure what created the humps.
Fees: Discover Pass ($10 a day or $30 a year) needed for State Parks and some Department of Natural Resources lands.
Liberty Lake Regional Park, south of Interstate 90 near the Idaho border, brims with recreation opportunities. You can see small waterfalls, get in a hike, go mountain biking, swim, use the 250-acre off-road vehicle park or go camping.
The park can draw a crowd in the summer, but there is plenty of room. At 3,000 acres the park is one of the largest county parks in Washington.
The park accepts reservations for camping through its website.
The nearby city of Liberty Lake is an excellent place to pedal. The city recently earned a bronze designation for “bike friendliness” by the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington, D.C, cycling advocacy organization.
Running through town is the Centennial Trail, a paved trail that stretches 37 miles along the Spokane River from Riverside Park in downtown Spokane to the Idaho border. In Idaho the trail links with the 18-mile North Idaho Centennial Trail.
Fees: $2 for those 6 and older.
Named for John Adams, a Founding Father and the second U.S. president, Mount Adams’s south side is loaded with free and inexpensive recreational opportunities. For $10 (Monday-Thursday) or $15 (Friday-Sunday) you can get a permit to climb the 12,281-foot volcano. While the last 3½ miles of the road to the south side trailhead are closed due to snow, many are hiking or skinning up the mountain anyway to take advantage of good summer skiing conditions, said Dana Kavanagh of the Mount Adams Ranger Station.
Many of the trailheads in this area don’t require a Northwest Forest Pass. For family hiking, Kavanagh recommends the Sleeping Beauty Trail. “It’s about three miles round trip and it’s a gorgeous trail,” she said. “When you get to the top you can see St. Helens, Rainier, Adams and Hood.”
She also recommends the Falls Creek Falls Trail, a 3.4-mile round trip hike to a cascading waterfall.
Dispersed camping is free in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and popular Mount Adams area campgrounds (Panther Creek, Paradise Creek, Trout Lake Creek and Good Lake) are $10-18 per night. Dispersed campsites must be at least 200 feet from the nearest water source, Kavanagh said.
Maps and information on other trails and campgrounds are available at the ranger station in Trout Lake
Ice Cave east of Trout Lake looks like Superman’s fortress of solitude with icicle stalagmites and stalactites filling the chilly cave year-round. Kavanagh recommends using a helmet, sturdy shoes and a flashlight to explore the 650-foot cave.
A free personal use permit to pick mushrooms can be obtained at the ranger station. The station will not be manned July 4, but an information kiosk including climbing registration information is available outside the building.
Fees: A $5 per day, $30 per year Northwest Forest Pass is required in some areas.
More info: fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot
The 5,454-foot peak east of North Bend is visible from Interstate 90. The trip to the summit involves a little bit of everything, from a bike ride in, some hiking and a little scrambling. In the winter, snowshoes will come in handy. Once there, the views include Mount Rainier to the south and Puget Sound to the west. All the guides say this is a long trip, so keep that in mind when making your plans.
For those who want a serious hike, Mount Si provides the challenge. The 8-mile round-trip trek with 3,100 feet of elevation gain is the second-most hiked trail in the state.
Nearby is Olallie State Park, noted for hiking, picnicking, fishing and rock climbing. Perhaps the most popular hiking destination in the park are Twin Falls and Weeks Falls. Other options include Cedar Butte and Mount Washington. Deception Crag Wall, a popular climbing spot, is scheduled to reopen by July 9. It has been closed because a pair of peregrine falcons have an active nest in the area.
The three forks of the Snoqualmie River provide opportunities for fishing for steelhead, trout and whitefish; kayaking; and whitewater rafting, all with easy access.
Fees: Discover Pass ($10 a day or $30 a year) needed for State Parks and some Department of Natural Resources lands. There is no fee to park at the Mailbox Peak Trailhead, however.