Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
No Friday Favorites post this week. I totally forgot to keep track of the things I was into – oops!
I hope everyone has a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day. I am off to find something green to wear and see if I can get my hands on a corned beef sandwich for lunch this afternoon!
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the arrival of spring!
Instead of doing my monthly “PNW Parks” posts this winter, I decided to stick with parks I already know and love. This means I don’t take too many photos of my treks, since I’ve shared so many photos from these places already. I also haven’t really blogged about them much, since it’s hard to say anything new about a park I run laps around 3 times a week!
While sticking to my usual haunts, I find myself becoming a stronger and more confident hiker. Each time I visit a park I’ve been to a dozen times, I try to push myself just a little bit harder, and a little farther out of my comfort zone. This has led me to find amazing new sights (like the waterfall above), gain better understanding of the trail system, and even rescue a dog who got stuck in a nearby creek (to his credit, he was chasing a tennis ball and didn’t want to abandon it). I even got a little lost on my Valentine’s Day hike, and ended up at the wrong parking lot – but I eventually figured it out, and got back to my car without much trouble. That will teach me to rely too heavily on my GPS (which crapped out in the middle of my hike without my knowing it)!
Thankfully, the weather this winter has worked out heavily in my favor. Sure, it rains a lot during the winter here, but when the temperatures stay hovering around 50 every day, even a rainy day is a great day to get outside. I’m thankful that the winters here are mild, which means I get outside a lot more than I ever used to in Ohio. I don’t know how long this warm trend will last, but I’m taking advantage of it every chance I get!
As the weather starts to warm up, I’ll be heading back out to find new and amazing parks in the PNW area. For now, though, I’m happy sticking to the familiar.
PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
The Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is one of my favorite places to hike in the Bellevue area. It’s an enormous park with four trailheads (I’ve been to three so far) and 38 miles of hiking trails – of which I’ve barely hiked maybe a third of it.
The trails are much easier to handle than most of the other parks I’ve been to, so it’s the perfect place for a beginner hiker. They also have horse trails, if you happen to have a horse and want somewhere awesome to take them!
Cougar Mountain has been through a lot before it became a park in June 1983 (coincidentally also the month I was born). It was originally inhabited by the Snoqualmie and Sammamish tribes, then later became a mining site (hence Coal Creek running nearby) in the 19th century. There are still many mining shafts and equipment lining the trails, with signs up explaining some of the history behind it.
It later became the home of a Cold War anti-aircraft missile station in the 1950s. While the missiles are gone, there is still some evidence of the military’s presence if you hike up to the Sky Country Trailhead.
In fact, there are signs up all over the park that explain facts about the park’s history and wildlife. I learn something new every time I head up there!
Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park has been my favorite park to hike through this fall. The trails are well maintained, which has been great given how much rain we’ve been getting! It’s also a great park to view the changing colors of fall – there are so many great viewpoints, open fields, and wide trails to take it all in.
So if you find yourself in the Bellevue area, I highly recommend checking out Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. It’s easy to find, easy to hike, and very easy to enjoy!