A quick little hike from Orcas Island's Mountain Lake brings you to Cascade Falls. Depending on the season, this little San Juan Island waterfall can flow. We've been there before, and always love to stop by when we're close. Roundtrip hiking to the falls from Mountain Lake took us a little about 2.5 hours. Plan for 1/2 day in the woods hiking & exploring this waterfall if you're leaving from the Mountain Lake campground like we did. It's totally worth it!
~Paul, Amber, Sis, Mom
I've got to be honest, it's a little tricky to enjoy swimming in the Pacific Northwest. There's water everywhere here in Western Washington, but it's chilly. When summer comes around again this year I'll finally be ready…because I finally found a lake…a warm lake!
To get there…wait for summer, then catch a ferry out of Anacortes…to Orcas Island in the San Juans!
Stop at some island viewpoints and shops along the way. Above: the road up tos Mt. Constitution. Below: views of Volcano Baker and shopping at Crow Valley Pottery.
We've arrived! A little lakeside campground in Moran State Park called…Mountain Lake!
We took a few laps around the lake in our 2 person Innova kayak and had a blast. The water was surprisingly warm - much warmer than Lake Washington in Seattle (where we usually swim in the summer).
The campground has only about 10 spots with parking spaces, and a lot more for groups (not to mention sites in other parts of the park). We made a reservation online here. We didn't have that much trouble getting a reservation on a week day in the summer. There aren't showers onsite - that could be part of it (there are bathrooms & water though).
More than one trail leaves Mountain Lake for lookouts, other lakes, and waterfalls (we've been to one). Canoe & kayak rentals are also available.
So, if you're looking for a warm summer lake to swim in, even in the chilly Pacific Northwest, be sure to book a night or two at Mountain Lake on Orcas Island!
~Paul, Amber, Mom, Sis
Kayak launch at Sail Sand Point, Seattle [North Shore Recreation Area/Magnuson Park/Pontiac Bay/Lake Washington]
Looking for a great place to launch a kayak, SUP (stand up paddleboard), or canoe on Lake Washington? Cruise over to Magnuson Park and head north to the North Shore Recreation Area (a.k.a. Sail Sand Point). With tons of free parking, this free launch site on Pontiac Bay is perfect for trips in the north section of the lake. Journey across the lake (northeast) to St. Edward Park or south toward Leschi and beyond. I always knew this launch was here but hadn't taken any pictures of it until recently.
When you get there you'll notice all of the Sail Sand Point boats dry docked near the parking lot and a few of their office buildings near the launch. Sail Sand Point is a non-profit community boating group that offers all kinds of sailing lessons & more. You'll see a lot of member boats in storage here and depending on the time of year, there'll be plenty of Sail Sand Point members hanging about the place. Don't be shy when you are there with your boat, even if you're a new paddler. Always feel free to ask questions and ask for help if you need it - these people are fellow water-loving-folk and from the community, just like you. Hey, they might even invite you to the occasional onsite BBQ! Interested in joining Sail Sand Point? Check out more info here.
We leave you with two sight-seeing possibilities right next-door to this launch - a few pics below of the boat graveyard along the trail behind the Sail Sand Point office & another of the gi-normous Arena sports complex next door. The graveyard? It's just awesome. The gi-normous Arena sports complex? It's important to us because of the rumored bar inside…perhaps a light beverage after a long day of paddling on the lake?
~Paul & Amber ETC
There are few things in the summer more Seattle than Green Lake. Sitting right in the middle of Seattle's northern neighborhoods, Green Lake is the place to be when, or if, the sun finally decides to come out. Walk your dog, walk yourself, grab a coffee, play soccer, football, basketball, wade in a pool with preschoolers, paddle, sail, SUP, row, jog, tan, tightrope walk (seriously). Activities here are endless.
Throughout the summer the lake hosts a decent amount of lily pads, usually towards the south side (P.S. the flowers smell like Thai coconut). Watch out for the occasional nesting bird on top of them though, and don't swim too close - a complex web of pads and milfoil (invasive water weed) are just below the surface.
There's also an island...
…and there's quite a few beaches.
Apparently Standup paddle boarding is the thing to do on the lake these days...
...and there are lots of restaurants close by.
So, if you can't tell from the pics, Green Lake is the place to paddle, walk, play, tan, basically, the place to be, especially when it's sunny in Seattle. Check out the Friends of Green Lake site for updated info on the lake - like when they close it to certain activities due to poor water quality, or when you might be able to join a volunteer milfoil weevil hunt!
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