Archives for posts with tag: Packwood

As a family, we have been going to Packwood, WA for the past 18 years, we love it.

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We love summer as much as we love winter.

We call it, “the place where God kissed the earth”.

Here is our TOP 10 LIST of THINGS TO DO IN SUMMER at our cabins (all within a few miles)!  You can book one of our 4 Packwood cabins at http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com or call 503-492-8783 from 9-9 PST!  Stay with the best on Mt Rainier!

1. Relax…you can’t help but do this at the cabin in these amazing settings.

Relaxing on the porch at the Mt View Cabin!

2. Have a campfire, make smores and watch the stars.

Campfire at the cabin under the stars!

3. After dinner hike either the Grove of the Patriach old growth forest trail or Silver Falls trail, its light till late!

The Grove of the Patriachs Old Growth Forest Trail

4. Walk downtown Packwood, get a coffee at the Butter Butte or a hamburger at Cliff Droppers…delicious!

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5. Swim in the outdoor heated pools that are surrounded by mt peaks!  (you have to stay at the Timberline or Forest Ridge to do that)!

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6. Fish the Cowlitz River or an upper alpine lake – our caretakers will tell you how to get there and catch em!

Fishing with dad on the Cowlitz

7. Head to one of the many lakes off highway 12 (see our blog about it) and jet ski, raft, kayak, picnic and swim!

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8. Elk hang out at the Cowlitz River Hotel in the evening.  If you haven’t seen any elk at the cabin, head out after dinner and drive to town.  Count them too.  How many bulls (males with antlers) and how many cows (females – yes that is a funny name).  Did you see any babies?

Elk in downtown Packwood

9. Bike up  6 mi Snyder Road to the Packwood Lake trail head.  Take along a snack and share it as you enjoy the view! Then head back down the 6 mi road – it’s all downhill from here!

The Packwood Valley

10. Attend the Memorial Day or Labor Day Flea Market in Packwood.  From the Mt View or the Alpine Chalet you can walk there and do not need to pay for parking.  With over 500 vendors and 10,000 visitors you will be wowed all weekend with good eats and treasures galore.  Book early because those 2 holiday weekends book fast!

The Packwood Flea Markets

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At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the fifth highest mountain in the continental 48 states.  Packwood, Washington is home to a total of 86 mountain summits and peaks.

There are 2 ways to get there in the spring, summer and fall.   Go east on Highway 12 out of Packwood for about 7 miles.  Take highway 123 left to the entrance to the park called the Stevens Canyon entrance.  After you are in the park are hundred’s of trails, overlooks, alpine lakes and waterfalls to stop at as you climb to the main visitor center at Paradise and Paradise Inn.  You can also get to Mt Rainier National Park via Skate Creek Road and the Nisqually entrance.  In Packwood, to the right of the Shell station is Skate Creek Road.  This is a windy road that follows the river.  This is a beautiful river with many spots to stop along the way for fishing and wading.  It’s about 20 miles till you get to the end and then go right to the Nisqually entrance of the park.  This way to Paradise also hosts many many trailheads, waterfalls and picnic areas to stop at.  In the park don’t miss Nisqually Falls…spectacular!  After reaching Paradise take some time to do some hiking.  In summer the restored wildflower areas are beautiful.  You can drive the whole loop back to Packwood.  If you came in the Steven’s Canyon or Nisqually entrance go back the other way…both access roads are worth the drive and the views and lead back to Packwood.  This loop is a total of about 75 miles.  If you are staying with us in Packwood and only have one day and want to get a good overview of the park, this is the trip for you.  Start early in the morning if you want to drive up to Paradise.  There is limited parking up there.

IN THE PARK:

Off Stevens Canyon Rd

– Grove of the Patriarchs – After you enter the Stevens Canyon entrance to Mt Rainier National Park STOP in the first parking area to the right.  The hike is only about 1 mi and you cross over a cool bridge over the river and enter an elevated walk way system that features some of the oldest and largest douglas fir trees you have ever seen.  This is a great hike for the kids and grandparents!  A must when staying in Packwood, WA!  Hike 1 mi

-Box Canyon –  one of the most unusual features in the park, and Nickel Creek Camp is a rustic backcountry retreat perfect for kids’ first backpacking adventure. The trail explores the rim of the deep chasm of Box Canyon before swinging out through the forest for a woodland ramble into the Nickel Creek valley along this short section of the Wonderland Trail. Hike 2 mi

-Bench and Snow lakes – are found just above the head of the Stevens Canyon Road, but you’ll feel like you’re deep in the backcountry once you immerse yourself in the cool lakes basin. The lakes are clear and pristine, and the upper lake, Snow, is nestled in a snow-filled cirque with fabulous views up to Unicorn Peak. Bench Lake boasts a great view of Mount Rainier. Hike 2.6 mi

-Lake Louise Trail – From the shores of Reflection Lake, this trail leads down jumbled talus slopes to the cold blue waters of Louise Lake, a pretty pool beneath the rocky wall of lower Mazama Ridge. The trail is gentle and kid-friendly, and since access is so easy, it makes a great stroll on a hot summer day. Hike 2 mi

Westside Road Trails

– Narada Falls  -in the midst of the Paradise River pounds down into a deep plunge pool, sending out a curtain of spray that provides a refreshingly cool breeze to hikers on this route. You hike the falls from top to bottom before climbing through salmonberry brambles and rich forest ecosystems to reach the upper trailhead at Reflection Lakes. Hike 3 mi

– Comet Falls – This hike takes you by Comet Falls, one of the tallest falls in the park, named for its similarity to a comet’s tail. A short ascent through enchanting forest to a waterfall that drops over a 300-foot cliff. This hike takes you past two other waterfalls before you reach the highest waterfall accessible by trail in Mount Rainier National Park. Hike 3.8 mi

-Longmire Visitor Center – this area has many trial head along with a restaurant and gift shop.  Ask the ranger if he can recommend some trails for your hiking level in this area.

Enjoy!

Stay with us, you will not be disappointed!

http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com

503-492-8783

Call anyday 9-9 PST for information and reservations.  We take visa or mc and dogs are welcome!

Packwood Lake is worth the 4 mi hike!

From downtown Packwood go up Snyder Road (Across the street from the Shell Station) and go until it ends, 5 miles.  This parking area is the trailhead for Packwood Lake.  You will need a Parking Pass to park here so make sure you purchase one in Packwood at the sports shop before you go up.  This trail is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  From here you can pre-arrange horseback rides in.  You can take the trail (4.5 miles).  This is an easy trail and has some views but it is mostly in the woods.  The best route is the access road below the parking area.  Here you will experience some of the most astounding valley and Mt Rainier views from any place in Packwood.  Or you can go in one way and then come back the other.  This trail is the first trail where the snow melts and you still have an amazing mountain feel.  You will enjoy all the wildflowers that start to spring up in May including vanilla leaf, flowering current, salmonberry, vine maple, Oregon grape, yellow violets and pinedrops, the tallest saprophyte in our region.  Strong hikers can continue on the Packwood Lake trail to campsites and connections to other destinations including Mosquito Lake and Lost Lake.

There hasn’t been a general store or a resort at the lake since the 1980s.  The only structures at the lake today are the Guard Station and a historical Ranger Cabin under restoration.

Packwood lake, two miles long  and .6 miles wide.  On a clear day there are views of Johnson Peak; even on a cloudy day hikers will enjoy the view of Agnes Island not too far out from shore. Local lore has it that the island is named after the wife of the man who owned and operated the resort. Locals also call the island Wizard or Enchantment Island.

You can hike all the way to the lake and if you are energetic hike around the lake too.  Or just go in a few miles with a picnic lunch and sit and gaze at the valley below.

Have Fun!

When in Packwood stay with Great Northwest Cabins for a quality rustic elegant cabin experience.  Our Mt View Cabin is off of Snyder Road just below the Packwood lake trailhead.

Our website is http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com

Call for information and reservations at 503-492-8783 anyday from 9-9 PST.

We take visa of mc and dogs are welcome!

The Atmosphere is Electric at the Famous Packwood Flea Market

Every Labor and Memorial Day weekends the beautiful mountain town of Packwood, WA goes from 1000 residents to 10,000.  All hotels, cabins and camping spots fill up quick,  first with vendors that come from all over the northwest and west coast, over 500 of them.  Packwood stores, restaurants and shops get ready for the craziest yet most profitable weekends of the year.  This is the Packwood Flea Market!  I call it the Packwood Festival…sounds more classy…and that’s what it is.  The downtown of Packwood is situated on highway 12 or officially named the White Pass Scenic Byway, a great name because it is for sure one of the most beautiful roads in the country.  If you are coming from Olympia, Chehalis or even south from Longview or Portland you will get to experience the hour and 15 min drive from I-5 through valleys, across lakes and through cute small towns.  Views of Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Rainier and hundreds of other peaks that surround this ring of fire are as dramatic and stunning.  Lakes like Mayfield and Riffe with their dams and vistas are worth the stop.  This is all before you enter into the town of Packwood.  Packwood sits at the base of Mt Rainier and is surrounded by over 100 mountain peaks.  It is a peninsula of public land with Mt Rainier National Forest on one side and Gifford Pichot National Forest on the other.  Seven miles from town is the Stevens Canyon entrance to Mt Rainier National Park, the most dramatic drive up to Paradise, in my opinion, and only 20 miles to the ever growing in popularity, White Pass Ski Resort.  I call it a resort because with the new expansion, new lifts and mid mountain lodge, it feels like one.  It’s not just a local ski hill anymore.

Prior to any Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend vendors start to roll in at the start of the week to secure their spot and set up their wares.  You can buy anything from yard sale treasures to really nice artwork and log crafted furniture.  The food carts are abundant so bring some cash and eat some huge curly fries, tamales and end the day with some fresh made cotton candy.  The amazing thing is that this little town with its cute restaurants and pubs never has traffic issues (unless it snows a lot).  But on Saturday, at Flea Market time, there are actually traffic jams.  What should take a few minutes ends up taking 30 to get through town.  Why?  Well 10,000 people that’s why.  Both sides of main street (Highway 12) are packed 5-6 layers deep of people walking, eating and shopping for the 1 1/2 mile stretch.  If there is a piece of grass, field or empty spot in front of a hotel or business, it’s rented to a hungry vendor looking to sell his (or her) stuff.  You may ask, “Where does everyone park?”  Anywhere and everywhere…on every side street off of main street any home with any land parks cars and get’s in on the action, making some extra weekend cash.  It will cost anywhere from $3-$5 to park depending on how far you want to walk.  You do want to get close to the action because inevitably you will buy that Elk head or mountain scene with a heavy log frame for your home or cabin and you will need to carry that thing to the car.  Some people pull wagons to put their stuff in as they shop, shop, shop.

That’s why you need to stay in a Great NW Cabin.   Our Mt View Cabin and Alpine Chalet are less than 1/2 mi from town. These 2 cabins book up first because of their proximity to town.  Yet they are far enough away that you do not hear the noise and can rest in peace, but close enough where you can walk to the FESTIVAL and not pay for parking.  Or stay in one of our 2 Timberline Community cabins, 3 mi east of Packwood.  They both have access to 2 amazing outdoor saltwater heated pools and tennis courts and are only a few miles from the entrance to Mt Rainier.  You don’t have to fight Flea Market traffic to head up the mountain for some hiking and exploring.

You have to experience it at least once.  Yet many come back year after year because they are addicted to the Famous Packwood Flea Market….ahh..Festival.  You will love it, your kids will love it…come and be our guest!

For information on our cabins log onto www.greatnorthwestcabins.com or call 503-492-8783 for information and reservations.  We take mc or visa and dogs are welcome!

White Pass Ski Resort

It’s amazing over the years how popular White Pass Ski Resort (I call it a resort – sounds more classy) has become.  We built our first cabin in Packwood years ago and it all started that first winter…the phone calls.  People wanted to rent our cabin to go skiing at White Pass.  This is the reason why we built our first cabin…I was addicted to skiing.  We knew that with our busy lifestyle we needed a place to go when we wanted to just relax and unwind.

We discovered White Pass one weekend after packing up the whole family, all their skies, poles, boots, clothing and food to go skiing at Crystal Mt.  A few weeks prior to this we attempted to go skiing at Crystal and the parking lot was full and they turned us away at the bottom of the access road.  Can you believe that it happened a second time?  Yes, here we were, 3 kids, all their gear and after and hour and half drive we get turned around for the second time.   Now I can’t tell you how angry and disappointed I was.  We drive back down the hill to Graham (that’s Graham, WA where we lived at the time) and resolved not to do that again.  We had heard about this smaller ski area called White Pass and we decided to give it a try.

That next weekend we headed to White Pass with the family.  Packed the car, the equipment, the clothes, the food and drove the 2 hours to White Pass.  About 15 miles before the ski area we passed through this little cute town called Packwood.  We were like WOW, that’s cool, a little ski town.  It was a few years later that we explored the town and area only to discover that many people had the same idea…Ski Town…Ski Area…Ski Town…Ski Area…realizing that there were not too many places in the northwest that had little ski towns close to the ski hill.  Packwood was this little peninsula of a town surrounded by mt peaks on all 3 sides and above them all was the majestic Mt Rainier.  It was soon thereafter we bought our first piece of land for $7000 and built that first cabin.  This was the beginning of Great Northwest Cabins.

At the top of Paradise Basin!

Needless to say our first experience at White Pass was a pleasure.  It was, at that time, a smaller family area that was very kid friendly.  You can pull right up to the lodge and unload all your gear and bring your kids right into the childcare.  We were impressed with the childcare, the room, the toys, the staff, were all very helpful.  They have a great program where they take your kids out to play in the snow.  They put them on little kid skies with the goal of helping them to have a good first experience sliding around in the snow.  All 3 of our kids learned to ski at White Pass.  There are 2 free lifts for beginners, the magic carpet and platter…a great learning environment and oh yes did I mention FREE!  Today our whole family is avid skiers and we love our annual ski trips to White Pass.

We had heard about this expansion plan that White Pass was working on for over 2 decades.  Because it was taking so long no one in town really believed it would happen.  Well kudos to the staff at White Pass because it did happen.  White Pass doubled its skiable acreage with 2 new lifts and a beautiful mid mountain lodge.  When you venture back to this new area called “Paradise Basin” you feel like your skiing little Whistler.

So what does a day look like for the Trombi family at White Pass?  Well, we first get up at about 7:30 at the cabin and get ready to head up the pass which is only 12-15 mi away, depending on what cabin you are staying at.  We make our own lunch, sandwiches and top Ramon are in order with drinks and snacks packed in the backpack.  Highway 12 (now the White Pass Scenic Byway) is so well taken care of you rarely ever have to put chains on unless it’s just dumping as you head up.  We still pull right up to the lodge, even though our kids are older now, to unload the skies and equipment.  The family heads in to put their boots on and get ready for a great day!

I park the car and head over to buy the lift tickets and then head into the lodge to put my boots on.  After attaching all lift tickets, with back pack lunch in tow, we head up the Great White quad lift.  At the top we now ski over to the Basin Quad and take that up as well.  Our first stop is the new lodge called High Camp.  This is a beautiful new timber lodge with a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. It’s a great place to take a break or eat lunch after skiing the runs of Paradise Basin. We stash our lunch here and get ready to ski the basin for the first half of the day.  First we head to the detachable quad called the Coulier Express just right below the lodge.  This is the highest lift at White Pass and accesses all the great runs of the basin.  Most are great cruisers.  When it’s clear there is no better view of Mt Rainier and the surrounding peaks anywhere in the state of Washington.

White Pass gets over 400 inches of snow every year so it is not unusual to have fresh powder every other day even late into the season.  And because this area leans more towards the east side of the Cascades the snow is a lot drier then say Crystal or Stevens Pass.  I went skiing with some friends last year in April and we had sunshine and 8″ of fresh POW.  It was perfect.  Once you get off the lift and go right towards the West Ridge Access Trail and you have all the back country glade and bowl skiing your legs can handle.  That day we were skiing the open fields of powder all morning making fresh tracks up till lunch time.

Spring Skiing POW in Paraside Basin Bowl

After a morning of cruising and fun we head to the High Camp Lodge.  Time to eat!  There is nothing like a great lunch after a morning of crusing.  The lodge offers some great food and microbrews if you didn’t bring your lunch.  On a sunny day sit outside as the staff fires up the bbq and serves it up.  For dessert my kids love the homemade brownies and cookies.

High Camp Lodge at Paradise Basin, White Pass

After skiing the back side we over to the front side.  You can ski past the Yurt to chair 4 and take that back up to the top or you can ski all the way to the base and take Great White up again.  It’s fun either way.  Now it’s time to ski our old time favorite trails like Cascade and Holiday.  I’ll never forget my youngest daughter at 6 years old.  She had taken classes for a few years and I would take her out and she would ski between my legs.  That year we headed to Holiday and she insisted that she could do it alone.  I pushed her off and she just started going, turning and screaming for joy.  I never from that point on had to ski with her between my legs.

After cruising down Cascade my kids love to take every little trail and shoot…so much fun.  And perhaps maybe a run down Cascade Cliff or the famous mogul trail Holiday Cliff.

The last area that we love (this used to be refereed to as back side) is the 4 trails surrounding chair 4…Paradise, Quail, or Grouse.  On the Paradise Trail is our traditional 3:15 stop at the famous White Pass Yurt.  This place has character and is full of people and families that have been stopping here for years.  Come on in and relax, warm up and get a big cup of hot chocolate, cold beer and another famous brownie.  Anyone we have ever taken skiing at White Pass has experienced the Yurt.  In spring, skiers and boarders are stewn out around the yurt laughing and enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere of a very special place.

The Yurt at White Pass

Time to head down and call it a day.  Tucking the cat track is in order.  A little poling and you are back at the lodge.  With no kids another drink in the bar next to the fireplace might be in order or perhaps the hot tub at the cabin is calling you only 12 mi away.

Drinks on the deck of White Pass main Lodge at the end of the day!

We all hope that mom put a stew in the crock pot at the cabin because we are sure hungry.  If not a Cruisers Pizza is always a great alternative in town.  Another beautiful day at the ever increasing popular White Pass!  Another relaxing night in the bedroom community of Packwood, WA…the still undiscovered Ski Town at the base of Mt Rainier!

For information about White Pass log onto http://www.skiwhitepass.com

To rent one of our 4 custom built ski cabins log onto http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com  or call us anyday from 9-9 PST at 503-492-8783.  We would be glad to answer any question you may have about our cabins!

We hope you stay with us, you will not be disappointed!

RAFT THE TIETON in SEPTEMBER!

After Labor Day weekend the crowds subside and the days are getting shorter.  The weather is so perfect for all outdoor activities as the days are still warm and summery and the nights have that cool fall crispness where a fire takes the chill off the evening.

September is a great month to visit Packwood and Mt Rainier.  With school in we have many retirees and couples without kids come and enjoy the park and scenery.

Many also come to raft the famous Tieton River.  Fueled by water released from Rimrock Dam, the Tieton’s steep gradient produces 14 miles of narrow and swift Class III+ whitewater leading to the Naches River. Rafters come from all over and stay in Packwood.  They check in Friday night.  Early Saturday morning they arise and travel over the pass to the put in.  After an amazing day they return to the cabin Saturday night for some steaks on the grill and a therapeutic soak in the hot tub.

The river only runs white water one month a year in September.  The rest of the time it is a creek so shallow you can walk across in places. Guests get the thrill of paddling down a flooded canyon watching the river banks and canyon walls fly past. It has the steepest gradient in Washington State, providing fast moving water and big waves. The trip goes from Rimrock Dam to the confluence of the Naches River. The river never slows down as you make your way through the likes of “High Noon” and “Waffle Wall.”

There are many rafting companies to choose from and the rates range from $65 – $80 per person.  Some provide lunch or fancy bbq’s but all raft the same river with the same exciting 4 hours of amazing fun!  Log on or call one of these rafting places below.

For cabin openings log onto our website at www.greatnorthwestcabins.com or call us at 503-492-8783 any day from 9-9 PST.  We take visa or mc.

To reserve your spot with a rafting company contact one of these places:

Alpine Adventures   www.alpineadventures.com (800) 723-8386

Blue Sky Outfitters  www.blueskyoutfitters.com  (800) 228 RAFT

Wet Planet Whitewater www.wetplanetwhitewater.com (877)-390-9445

Wildwater River Tours www.wildwater-river.com   (800)522-WILD

Silver Falls

When you are staying in Packwood a morning or afternoon visit is well worth your time to Silver Falls.  Go east on highway 12 from Packwood for 7 miles.  Go left onto highway 123 till you reach the Ohanapacosh Visitor Center and Campground.  It will be on your left.  Go in and park in front of the visitor center.  This is small  cozy visitor center with many exhibits and things to explore.  After you have learned about the mountain and the area,  take a fabulous 2 mi hike.  The trail begins right behind the visitor center.  It slowly meanders up past the hot springs.  Years ago there were hot spring baths and a resort here.  All that is gone now in an effort the return the area back to it’s natural state.  You can still smell the sulfur and touch the hot water coming from the ground.  The rest of the trail goes through a large growth forest and crosses over Laughing Creek.  After you cross the creek the trail rises to an intersection, go left down the hill to Silver Falls.  Once you round the bend you will be in awe.  Silver Falls is one of the most rushing and dramatic  falls in the park.  Bring the camera, there is a walking bridge that goes over the gorge and there are many opportunities for pictures and wildlife.

Silver Falls Gorge and Bridge

On the opposite side you can get close to the falls and feel the spray.  Don’t get too close it is slippery and dangerous.  This is a great hike for kids.  We have done this hike many times in the early morning or even after dinner in the summer while it’s still light out.

Have a Great Stay in our Great NW Cabin!

To reserve one of our cabins in Packwood go to http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com

Or call us anyday from 9-9 PST at 503-492-8783

We take visa or mc and dogs are welcome