Leave the Seattle area’s low cloud deck in the rear-view mirror and strike out for the arid side of our state. Destination: the western edge of the Columbia Gorge, just a two-and-a half-hour drive from Seattle near the town of Quincy, where the sun is shining and highs are in the mid-70s right about now. Your itinerary for the weekend: an easy hike through an enchanting, ancient landscape, followed by wine tasting, cliff dwelling and a stint at a spa.
Set out early to arrive at the Ancient Lakes trailhead by noon—before the heat and crowds arrive. This trail is beloved among day hikers and backpackers alike, and with good reason: Prolific payoff views are rarely this easily come by in the Northwest.
Your easy 2-mile meander takes you past million-year-old lakes, ringed by towering basalt cliffs.
You wanted warm, and this hike delivers, with nary a tree to cast a shadow and hawks circling overhead on sage-scented thermals. Pause awhile next to the second waterfall to gaze out across the coulee. Debate the merits of the relatively steep scree scramble down to the lake. If you’re game, ring the lake and wind through more dramatic desert vistas before eventually dropping down to the Columbia River.
After a hike on the Ancient Lakes trail, spend the night at luxe Cave B Inn and Spa. Photographs by: Kristen Russell (Ancient Lakes); Cave B (exterior).
Return to your car for the 25-minute drive to Cave B Inn and Spa Resort, a lovely, low-slung resort perched 900 feet above the Columbia River, designed by Seattle architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig. Plan ahead to score one of the romantic and gorgeously appointed Cliffehouses, each of which features a two-sided gas fireplace, soft leather couch, soaking tub and sweeping view of the gorge. Be sure to time your stay to coincide with (or to avoid!) the lively scene at the Gorge Amphitheatre next door.
Shake off the last of your city stress with aromatherapy at Cave B’s serene little spa, and then wander a path among grapevines to the tasting room of Cave B Estate Winery, one of only a dozen or so wineries in the Ancient Lakes AVA. A variety of estate-grown reds and whites are poured here; take a bottle of the Cave B Cuvée Blanc back to sip on your patio as you watch the sunset paint the gorge orange.
Then gorge yourself on locally sourced fare in Tendrils, the resort’s restaurant, and raise a glass to your escape from the Seattle spring.
Sun meter: On average, Quincy receives 194 days of sun annually.
Getting there: Quincy is 160 miles east of Seattle and about a three-hour drive.
The Ancient Lakes trailhead is about 10 miles south of Quincy. Find details at the Washington Trails Association site. Discover Pass required.
Cave B Inn and Spa, Quincy, 344 Silica Road NW; 509.787.800. From $139.