Burn the calories before tackling these burgers

A bacon cheeseburger at Wally’s White River Drive-In in Buckley.
A bacon cheeseburger at Wally’s White River Drive-In in Buckley. Staff writer

Toward the end of a long outdoor excursions, the body running on fumes and eager to refuel, the conversation often turns to food.

And usually not health food.

There are few more indulgent ways to cap a day of outdoor play than with a burger. And for South Sound adventurers, there are plenty of established burger stands that have carved out their reputation by making those hamburger dreams come true.

“It’s a reward after a long hike,” said Ken Hearing, owner of North Bend’s 64-year-old Scott’s Dairy Freeze. “... People aren’t worried about calories when they come in here. They’ve earned it.”

A 1,500-calorie bacon cheeseburger preceded by a hike that burns 1,500 or more calories, is, arguably, better than simply going out for a burger, says a MultiCare wellness coach, Beverly Utt.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that burger is entirely canceled out by your hike. Utt says a burger doesn’t have a good “protein package.” It has more saturated fat and high cholesterol than you need. And it doesn’t have much fiber or good carbohydrates.

Your body would be better served by a post-hike meal of fish and veggies.

But, Utt says, it’s OK to splurge a couple times a month.

With that in mind, here are few burger excursions worth scheduling for your next splurge day:


THE EXCURSION: The Tatoosh Trail has a reputation as a challenging uphill hike with big rewards. In 9 miles, climb more than 3,000 feet to the top of Tatoosh Peak, where the final few steps bring into view a jaw-dropping panorama highlighted by Mount Rainier.

Tatoosh Ridge and the Tatoosh Lakes also are good destination for backpackers, if you don’t mind lugging a heavy pack uphill. Wildflowers often line the trail, and wildlife regularly makes appearances. The trail, which starts 7 miles up Forest Road 5270 (which is open, contrary to signs stating otherwise), starts in the trees. Once on the ridge, the view includes Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams.

More info: fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot.

THE BURGER: Scaleburgers is a tradition for many visiting the southwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park and points south. The Overload burger ($7.05) is one of the 30-year-old burger stand’s classics. The Overload has a 1/4-pound patty, two slices of American cheese, two pieces of bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and sauce.

The green-and-white burger stand was once a weigh station and pays tributes to its roots with large truck tires used as planters. Visitors can eat out front at the picnic tables. Dogs aren’t allowed in the picnic area, but there are tables a short walk away at the Elbe rest stop.

Scaleburgers: 54109 Mountain Highway E., Elbe. 360-569-2247.

THE BURGER II: Scaleburgers isn’t on the way home for every Tatoosh Ridge hiker. Cliff Droppers, a 5-year-old restaurant in Packwood, is a ski-themed burger joint that owners Brent and Tonja Martin say is getting a little better each year.

White Pass ski area regulars will enjoy the décor honoring the nearby ski hill. Last week, Brent Martin was preparing for an evening rush of cyclists. He said the hand-dipped chocolate and blackberry shakes are popular. That is, if visitors still have room after taking on one of the burgers. The 1/3-pound Bacon Bleu Cheese ($10.49) and 2/3-pound Sasquatch ($12.49) are building a reputation at Cliff Droppers.

The Bacon Bleu Cheese is made with real bleu cheese. The massive Sasquatch is loaded with extras like Canadian bacon, onions and Swiss and American cheese. All burgers come with fries or tater tots.

Cliff Droppers: 12968 U.S. Highway 12, Packwood. 360-494-2055.


THE EXCURSION: North Bay, located just across state Route 3 from Allyn’s Big Bubba’s Burgers, is a good place to launch a South Sound paddling expedition. The waters tend to be calmer and less crowded than more popular destinations in the North Sound.

The Cascadia Marine Trail, a collection of more than 60 campsites and 160 day-use sites along Puget Sound, has several spots near Allyn, including Grapeview’s Fair Harbor Marina. From the marina, kayakers can make a day trip to Jarrell Cove State Park on the north end of Harstine Island or take longer trips to Hope Island or Joemma Beach state parks.

More info: wwta.org, parks.wa.gov.

THE BURGER: A complete circumnavigation of Harstine Island (a multi-day trip for most) might give you a fighting chance to burn off Big Bubba’s most famous burger.

The $9.99 Super Burger is the size of two of the restaurant’s double bacon cheeseburgers. It’s a pound of beef topped with cheese, bacon, lettuce, pickles, onions, tomato and “special sauce” on a Kaiser bun. Many patrons split the massive order so they have room for fries and a chocolate shake, a manager said, but plenty are also up to the challenge.

Big Bubba’s Burgers: 18471 E. state Route 3, Allyn. 360-275-6000. bigbubbasburgers.com.


THE EXCURSION: Whether you like your tires fat or skinny, the state Route 410 corridor is worth visiting. For mountain bikers, the forest trails along the highway offer some classic rides. Skookum Falls, Sun Top and Crystal Mountain all offer challenging rides that will melt calories.

You can ride both Skookum and Sun Top from Buck Creek Road. Crystal Mountain doesn’t offer lift service for cyclists, but many trails are open to bikes.

If road riding is your thing, you’ll find plenty of uphill workouts near the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Climb Crystal Mountain Boulevard, head up to Sunrise or take on Cayuse and Chinook passes. Or maybe do all of the above if you plan on stopping in Buckley for a Waltimate Burger on the way home.

MORE INFO: fs.usda.gov/mbs.

THE BURGER: Kimarie Johnson, operations manager at Wally’s White River Drive-In, says if you’re burning 500 calories per hour on your outdoor adventure, you’ll want your workout to last 3-4 hours if you want to have a chance to offset a Waltimate. “They have everything but the kitchen sink,” she said.

The $12.99 behemoth is a 3/4-pound burger on a 6-inch bun and includes grilled onions, Wally Sauce, sautéed ham, onion rings, Swiss and American cheese, lettuce, tomato and more. “You’ll need a knife and fork,” Johnson said. And maybe a forklift, if you add a maple bacon shake to your order.

Wally’s also offers breakfast burgers, Johnson said. The $6.79 Farmer Burger is topped with bacon and eggs and is served all day.

Wally’s White River Drive-In: 282 state Route 410, Buckley; 360-829-0871.


THE EXCURSION: Hikers, runners, equestrians and cyclists flock to the 100-mile John Wayne Pioneer Trail on nice days. In the winter, the trail also lures dog sledders, skiers and snowshoers. The former rail bed offers an abundance of ways to burn calories between North Bend and the Columbia River.

Side trips include McClellan Butte (a challenging hike) and Twin Falls (a much easier hike). Rock climbers scale the outcroppings near the trail east of North Bend. The trail crosses scenic trestles, and the 2.3-mile Snoqualmie Tunnel near the Summit East ski area is an adventure in itself.

MORE INFO: parks.wa.gov.

THE BURGER: If you stop by Scott’s Dairy Freeze, there’s a good chance the North Bend mayor will cook your burger.

Ken Hearing, the owner and North Bend’s mayor, often works the grill where he prepares the restaurant’s most popular burger: the $3.95 cheeseburger.

The cheeseburger includes mayo, relish, onion, lettuce, pickle and tomato. Extra patties, bacon and gluten-free buns are also available. The shakes are popular too, Hearing said.

The burger stand is named for Al and Dorothy Scott, who opened Scott’s Dairy Freeze in the summer of 1951.

Scott’s Dairy Freeze: 234 E. North Bend Way, North Bend; 425-888-2301.


After nearly four months of research that required sampling 50 burgers, food critic Sue Kidd picks her top 10 locally-owned fast food burger restaurants. View her list at thenewstribune.com/tnt-diner.


MultiCare wellness coach Beverly Utt has a few tips for minimizing the impact of your post-hike burger:

▪ Holding the cheese, mayo or bacon saves about 100 calories each.

▪ Ask for non-buttered buns.

▪ Share your burger or take half of it home.

▪ Don’t make a habit of capping your outdoor trips with fast food. “As a splurge, OK,” she said. “But not that often.”

▪ Consider a healthier post hike meal. “Maybe a good gauge would be answering the question, ‘Would I eat this burger before my hike?’” Utt said. “If not, why would I eat it after?”