Best Hikes with Views

Sweeping coastal and mountain views offer big payoffs on these hikes and walks.

Mount Constitution
Orcas Island

Map of Mt Constitution
Moderate to difficult; 6.7 miles round-trip, 1,490-foot elevation gain. Or easy; a scant eighth-mile from parking lot to tower Location
: In the San Juan Islands, about three hours from Seattle, via Interstate 5 and the ferry from Anacortes. Nearest town: Eastsound, about 20 minutes from the top. Discover Pass required; 

Take in the soaring 360-degree views from the stone tower atop Mount Constitution the easy way (drive), or the hard way (hike). Either way, summiting the highest point in the San Juans, in Moran State Park, offers spectacular vistas of the Cascade and Olympic mountains, the Canadian Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and all of the San Juans. A twisting nine-mile drive will drop you just a jaunt from the tower; a short uphill stroll and three flights of stone stairs later, you’re atop the 45-foot-tall lookout, where maps help you identify the sweeping scene below. Heartier souls, watch for the Mountain Lake trailhead partway up the mountain; there, you’ll pick up a fairly strenuous hike that winds steeply upward through old-growth stands of western hemlock and Douglas fir. The first mile is the toughest—a relentless uphill slog—but after that, you’ll meander up switchbacks, occasionally popping out of the trees to encounter a staggering view. When you reach the top, you will have hit that perfect hiking trifecta: righteous workout, huge payoff view, and nothing but downhill between you and that sweet post-hike beer in nearby Eastsound.

Elliott Bay Trail

Downtown Seattle

Map of Elliott
Easy (paved); 5 miles (SoDo to Magnolia), no elevation gain 
Location: Downtown Seattle waterfront 

Much to the delight of the thousands of walkers, joggers and bikers who use it every day, the Elliott Bay Trail, which stretches for five miles from Royal Brougham Way near the stadiums (still accessible during construction) up to Smith Cove Park at the base of Magnolia Hill, offers some of the best and most iconic views in Seattle. Not many other walks include views of working waterfronts, gleaming city skylines and sunsets behind jagged mountain peaks—all at the same time. Along the way, stop in at Pike Place Market and grab something delicious, or detour through the Olympic Sculpture Park for a little artistic stimulation, marking time by counting passing ferryboats as they ply the waters of Elliott Bay. On a sunny day, this walk is guaranteed to increase civic pride.


Second Beach
Washington Coast

Map of Second Beach
Difficulty: Easy; 1.5 miles round-trip, 100-foot elevation gain 
Location: About four to five hours from Seattle in Olympic National Park, south of La Push off U.S. Highway 101. Nearest town: La Push, 5 miles. National Parks Pass required; dogs prohibited; 

While the tourists flock to Ruby Beach because of its convenient access right off U.S. Highway 101, those willing to get off the beaten path—specifically, three-quarters of a mile through a spooky forest of twisting cedar, fir, maple and madrona boughs—will be rewarded with more solitude and even better sunset views at Second Beach. Jagged sea stacks dominate the view near and far; you can even climb some of them and get that bird’s-eye view you crave. And during summer, when the angle is right, you can watch the sun go down framed by an eroded “hole in the wall” on the northern end of Second Beach. Don’t forget your headlamp for the hike back to the car—you won’t want to leave before sunset.

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

An intimate affair for wine lovers who get their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude
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A flight of wine awaiting tasting at one of the educational panels

If you love good wine—really good wine—you’ll want to put Northwest Wine Encounter on your radar.

Haven’t heard of it before? That’s not surprising. The inaugural event, which I attended last spring, was an intimate affair with space for just a few dozen wine lovers who got their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude on winemaking, learning about these during educational panels led by some of the region’s finest winemakers. And, of course, it helped to taste through flights of really fine wine as the winemakers offered insights and perspective.

The return engagement, on the weekend of April 28-30 (from $485/person including lodging, events and gala dinner), will follow a similar format and will once again be held at Semiahmoo Resort, a lovely spot overlooking Semiahmoo Bay, with the U.S./Canadian border and Peace Arch in view across the water. This year, there will be room for around 100 wine lovers (sign up for Northwest Wine Encounter here).

Winemakers and guests enjoying Friday night’s bonfire at Semiahmoo 

This quintessential Northwest location was chosen to complement the local wines that are the focus of the weekend. At Semiahmoo, Mount Baker frames the view in one direction, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound in another. At one time in its history, Semiahmoo was also the site of a salmon cannery. Hard to get more Northwest than that.

The 2017 winemaker lineup includes a few superstars from Oregon and Washington: Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Walla Walla’s oldest winery; David Merfeld of Northstar Winery, Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars; Tony Rynders of Panther Creek and wine grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyards. New this year is the addition of a British Columbia winemaker, Walter Gehriner of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery.


At last year’s events, the panel discussions were interesting, but the Friday night kick-off event was almost worth the price of admission alone. It had the air of an informal party where everyone was enjoying each other’s company. All the winemakers were in attendance, pouring and chatting about what they love most: making wine. The party eventually spilled out onto the beach where a bonfire warmed the crowd. Marshmallows optional, wine required.