Posts Tagged With: hiking trail

Observation Loop Trail, Yellowstone National Park

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Josh watching Old Faithful erupt for the first time

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Old Faithful

There are several fun hikes to take in Yellowstone National Park. A short one is the Observation Loop Trail. This one starts behind Old Faithful and is a 1.1 mile round trip hike. It takes you up 160 feet so it is rather steep. But the reward is worth it.

On our first visit to Yellowstone National Park as a family, we had reservations at the Old Faithful Inn for dinner. We first stopped to watch Old Faithful erupt. It was so much fun watching Josh see it for the first time – he was very excited and impressed!

Then we had some time to kill so David said we needed to take this hike because he had been on it before and wanted us to see the view. So off we headed crossing a footbridge over the Firehole River which is where the trailhead begins. First of all it is a beautiful walk through trees and flowers, watching for birds and the little critters. I would recommend hiking shoes. Sandals do not work as well and aren’t very comfortable as Josh discovered. You can see from the pictures that trail is dry and a bit bumpy and steep. It’s considered a “moderate” hike in terms of difficulty, but Josh was seven-years-old at the time and did just fine, so families can easily do it. There were only a few other people on the trail, so we had it mostly to ourselves. It was a great place to be away from the crowds that were around the geyser.

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Nancy and Josh hiking up the Observation Loop Trail

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View from Observation Loop

Once at the top, the view is gorgeous! The Old Faithful Inn actually looks quite small from that viewpoint. We stood there marveling at the expansive view of the basin until we realized we had about 20 minutes until our dinner reservation. So unfortunately we worried we wouldn’t have time complete the trail and David took off running back down the trail and Josh and I followed a little more slowly. We took what we hoped was a shorter route to get there and it actually was – we were just minutes behind David as he was making sure we wouldn’t lose our reservation. We arrived sweaty and breathless, but we made it in time.

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David and Josh relaxing after the hike and a great meal

After a delicious and elegant dinner in the Old Faithful Inn we headed back out to enjoy the evening and look up at where we were earlier and think of the different view of the area that we had. We know from the lack of crowds up there that many people miss this experience on their trip to the Old Faithful area. So next time you are there, take the opportunity to take that hike and see the view from a different vantage point and away from the masses. It’s a sight not to be missed.

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Categories: Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Willapa Hills Trail, Chehalis to Adna, Washington

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Trailhead in Chehalis

Bike Trail

If you’re looking for a flat, relatively short walking or bicycle trail in southwest Washington then the Willapa Hills Trail will be perfect for you. Part of the Rails to Trails System, the trail is built on the footprints of an old railroad. It actually runs 56 miles from Chehalis to South Bend but at the moment a couple of trestles are not usable and not scheduled to be replaced until 2014. However, this is where the relatively short part comes in. The trail is 5.2 miles from Chehalis to Adna so a round trip is just over 10 miles. Of course you don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to.

Beginning behind the Centralia-Chehalis Steam Train, there is plenty of parking as well as restroom facilities (better than a port-a-potty, less than running water). As soon as you get on the trail you immediately pass over the Newaukum River via an old railroad bridge. If you’re lucky you might see the otters that sometimes frequent the area.

Bike Trail View Field

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Chehalis River Bridge

Continue on the flat trail enjoying the country scenery, the flowering trees, and massive green fields of the farms. Pass over the Chehalis River on another old train trestle. Often you can see families down at the river swimming or rockhounding.

The trail crosses a couple of roads, but it’s easy to see what little traffic there is and cross safely. Careful though – if you decide to go as far as Adna, you will need to cross Highway 6. You want to be sure to get near the corner where you can easily see traffic in both directions before you cross. Or if you decide to turn around, you’ve had a nice walk or ride just going that far.

End of trail at AdnaOnce you cross over Hwy. 6 you pass through some nice wetlands where the birds welcome you with beautiful sounds. You’ll pass by a private man-made lake that is used for waterskiing competitions, then behind the Adna High School. Just past the school there is another parking lot for the trail and there are more restrooms at this spot. Cross over Bunker Creek Rd. to the last part of the trail which ends at the unusable trestle.

With such an easy trail, it’s great for taking the kids for a walk, teaching little ones how to ride a bike, going slow and enjoying the views, and admiring the great old houses. On weekends you might even get to see the steam train out for a run.Trail RR Crossing

From I-5 take exit 77. Turn left at Riverside Drive, then a slight left on SE Newaukum Ave. Take a left on SW Sylvenus, then a right on SW Hillberger Rd. to the parking lot. You can also just follow the signs to the steam train, but instead of turning into the parking lot for the steam train, continue south on the road until you enter the parking lot for the tail. You will have passed the entrance to the trail as you enter the parking lot.

Categories: Outdoors, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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