Wonders of Washington 2021
Mount Rainier, Olympic Peninsula, & the Puget Sound
July 12-21, 2021 • 10 Days • $3250
A captivating Walking Adventure featuring Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, four Washington state parks, old growth rainforest, alpine lakes, dazzling mountain views, glacial rivers and waterfalls, beautiful Pacific beaches, emerald rainforests, and the gorgeous Puget Sound!
Natural Wonders of Washington is part of our “Close-to-Home” tour series. Though out-of-staters are more than welcome to join us on this new Adventure, these trips are specifically designed for locals who would rather drive to the start/finish of the tour than hop on an airplane. Itineraries are crafted as loops that return to the same point allowing convenient return to your car or pick up by a friend or relative. Because we have local walkers in mind, in addition to the more familiar must-sees, we invested extra effort into featuring the great outdoors and finding off-the-beaten-trail highlights and hidden gems of each state.
The Adventure begins with one of our country’s premier national parks, Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington state and an absolutely glorious place to hike. From Mount Rainier, a clockwise circuit includes a couple of delightful Puget Sound locations, quiet portions of the Pacific Coast, several stops in Olympic National Park, four different Washington state parks, and highlights on Whidbey Island and at Snoqualmie Falls.
- All land travel as outlined
- Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
- 15 walks
- Fees for walking credit for 8 AVA sanctioned walks
- WAI guide service throughout
- All tipping for coach driver and any local guides
- Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $590. We provide a roommate matching service for those interested.
- Mt. Rainier National Park
- Naches Peak
- Grove of the Patriarchs
- Box Canyon
- Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
- Skyline Trail
- Narada Falls
- Orting Valley
- Point Defiance Park
- Nisqually Wildlife Refuge
- Griffiths-Priday State Park along the Pacific Ocean
- Damon Point (Ocean Shores)
- Hoh River Rainforest (Olympic National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Ruby Beach (Olympic National Park)
- Sol Duc Falls (Olympic National Park)
- Hurricane Ridge (Olympic National Park)
- Fort Worden State Park
- Fort Casey State Park
- Deception Pass State Park
- Snoqualmie Falls
- More fun stops than we can list!
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
As one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners, Scott has led tours on all 7 continents. Scott’s passion for exploring the outdoors, began as a child, and continues with his wife, Debbie, and their three girls on the terrific trails of Mt. Rainier National Park and in other natural wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest.
“I have called Washington home for 17 years now,” shares Scott, “and the sight of Mt. Rainier standing tall on the eastern horizon still fills me with awe! This Adventure begins with a wonderful three days of hiking around this picturesque peak, not only staring at its impressive glaciers but marveling at its ancient old-growth forests and alpine meadows. As if this weren’t enough, Olympic National Park rivals Rainier for jaw-dropping moments and includes the sea stacks and rugged rocky coastline of Ruby Beach, primeval Hoh Rainforest, stunning Sol Duc Falls, and the rarified air of Hurricane Ridge. Walks at the Puget Sound forts that formed the Triangle of Fire, as well as awesome vistas at Ebey’s Landing and Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, round out the fun. It will be a week and a half you won’t soon forget!”
Click on each day to reveal more details
Day 1-July 12: Arrive Kent, WA
Travelers arrive today into Kent, Washington. Our starting hotel is conveniently located in the Kent Valley near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and nestled along a peaceful golf course in close proximity to the Green River Trail should you decide to do some strolling before our Welcome Orientation this evening at the hotel.
Day 2-July 13: Kent – Packwood (B)
Sunrise to Mt Fremont Hike – 10 km, 3C
Grove of the Patriarchs Hike – 2 km, 1B
Today, we journey south, venturing into one of America’s premier and pristine wonderlands, Mount Rainier National Park, our country’s fifth such designated preserve. As the highest volcanic peak in the contiguous United States, Rainier is best appreciated from multiple angles, and our first magnificent glimpse comes from the highest visitor center in the park (6,394 FASL) as we hike the Sunrise side of the mountain to Mt Fremont Lookout (7,160 FASL); wide, sweeping views of Rainier’s north face are plentiful on our way to a jaw-dropping fire lookout tower, with potential for spotting mountain goats and black bears if we’re lucky. Following this eye-popping experience, we descend to the southeast corner of the national park. A splendid walk here along the Ohanapecosh River leads to an impressive grove of behemoth old-growth trees, some nearly 40 feet in diameter and more than 300 feet tall. Our day concludes in the rustic, mountain town of Packwood.
Day 3-July 14: Activities from Packwood
Naches Peak Loop Trail – 6 km, 3C
Silver Falls Ohanapecosh Hike – 5 km, 2C
A second helping of Mount Rainier is on the menu today, featuring an eastside amble this morning that is among the best day hikes in the region. Naches Peak Loop (5,200 FASL) incorporates part of the famous Pacific Crest Trail on a dazzling journey past alpine lakes and to some of the best panorama postcard views of Rainier. It’s not uncommon to see or hear some of the local elk herds roaming the evergreen forests below. In the afternoon, we descend to the lush greenery and crystal-clear waters of the Ohanapecosh River (2,000 FASL) once again, this time exploring a terrific out and back trail to the rushing torrent of Silver Falls. We then settle in for one more evening in the little town of Packwood.
Day 4-July 15: Packwood - Puyallup
Skyline Trail Loop – 10 km, 4C
This morning’s drive takes us along the rugged and scenic southern slopes of Rainer, known as “Tahoma” by the native people. On our drive, we gaze in wonder at the narrowly gouged Box Canyon and continue to the rarified air of Paradise (5,400 FASL), an appropriately named hiking destination that hosts a marvelous visitor center as well as countless scenic footpaths. Our featured hike is a challenging but spectacular loop on the Skyline Trail, providing a perpetual visual feast of subalpine meadows, glacier views, cascading waterfalls, and wonderful flora and fauna. Because of the high altitude of this walk (6,800 FASL) and the significant elevation gain/loss, other excellent Paradise trails will offer the option of less challenging but equally satisfying experiences. Making our way down the mountain at the end of the day, we settle in for the night in Puyallup (your guide Scott’s hometown).
Day 5-July 16: Puyallup - Aberdeen (B)
Point Defiance Walk – 5 km, 2B
Nisqually Wildlife Refuge walk – 7km, 1B
This morning, we explore Tacoma’s magnificent urban park at Point Defiance, a 760-acre green space laced with wonderful trails and towering old growth forest, set along the shores of Puget Sound. After a lunch break at beautiful Point Ruston, we travel south to a bird lover’s paradise at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, a protected estuary full of biodiversity. Our walk here features a lovely elevated boardwalk that extends into the Nisqually Delta. We wrap up this memorable day driving through Olympia, Washington’s capital city, on our way towards Gray’s Harbor and the old logging town of Aberdeen.
Day 6-July 17: Aberdeen - Forks (B)
Ruby Beach Olympic National Park Walk – 2 km, 1C
Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park Walk – 8 km, 1C
A special treat lies in store for us today in Olympic National Park as we experience countless shades of green in one of our planet’s most amazing temperate rain forests, starting with a brief visit to the Quinault Valley and the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce Tree. Continuing to the rugged Olympic coast, we take in stunning sea stacks and driftwood at Ruby Beach, a wonderful place to relax or enjoy a Pacific stroll. The biggest highlight of the day comes in the afternoon with a primeval walk in the Hoh Rain Forest. Due to its carefully preserved ancient ecosystem, this rain forest is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. While Seattle typically gets 36 inches of rain a year, the Hoh Rain Forest gets as much as 14 feet of annual precipitation! This creates a lush and mossy wonderland that promises a memorable walk before we retire for the evening in the tiny town of Forks.
Day 7-July 18: Forks – Sequim
Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park Walk – 3 km, 2B
Hurricane Ridge Olympic National Park Walk – 7 km, 3B
A second helping of Olympic National Park wonders kicks off with a short but sweet hike that begins near a hot springs and meanders through dense forest canopy to splendid Sol Duc Falls, a 50-foot cascade that tumbles in multiple channels into a narrow canyon. Moving to higher ground in the afternoon, we ascend to the magnificent mile-high vantage point at Hurricane Ridge, a favorite destination in the national park. A variety of trail options awaits us here, ranging from somewhat challenging hilltop hikes to easier strolls near the visitor center, all with outstanding views of the Olympic Mountains. This evening we spend the night in Sequim (pronounced “skwim”), known as the “Lavender Capital of North America.”
Day 8-July 19: Sequim - Oak Harbor (B)
Fort Worden State Park Walk – 5km, 2C
Fort Casey Walk – 3km, 2C
In the late 1890s a coastal defense system (The Triangle of Fire) was created along the Juan de Fuca Strait and Admiralty Inlet with the aim of defending the Puget Sound region from enemy invaders. We visit two points of that triangle today, starting with Fort Worden State Park, where Victorian-era officers’ homes, old barracks, parade lawns, and hidden gun batteries are scattered amongst pleasant beaches and high bluff views. Following an extended lunch break in the charming town of Port Townsend, we depart the Olympic Peninsula by Washington State Ferry and land on Whidbey Island. Here, we marvel at sweeping seaside views and the Admiralty Head Lighthouse at Fort Casey before settling in at Oak Harbor for the night.
Day 9-July 20: Oak Harbor - Kent (B)
Ebey’s Landing Walk – 3km, 2B
Deception Pass State Park Walk – 8 km, 2C
Our morning begins with a short and sweet walk at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, a stunning landscape with rich farmland and a promising Puget Sound seaport that lured some of the earliest American pioneers north of the Columbia River. One more excellent Whidbey Island destinations awaits us today at Deception Pass State Park, considered one of the better walking locations in the Pacific Northwest. Deception Pass offers outstanding highlights including lush forests, rocky beaches, grassy dunes, mountain views, and a dramatic bridge, just to name a few. Following these two outstanding hikes, we continue south for one more thundering scenic Washington highlight at Snoqualmie Falls before finishing the day at our hotel in Kent for our final night together and a chance to celebrate a shared week of magical memories.
Day 10-July 21: Kent, WA - Home (B)
Our Natural Wonders of Washington Walking Adventure draws to a close with breakfast at our hotel. Exploring a few of the highlights and hidden gems of our country’s 42nd state in summer is an absolute delight and we hope you return home filled with fond memories to share with the ones you love. Thanks for experiencing this walking wonderland with us!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
To register, a transferable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. This amount is non-refundable; however, up until 60 days before departure, it can be transferred to a different tour. A final payment is due 60 days before departure and you will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance.
An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important details about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.
Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.
Unique Aspects of this Tour
It’s a good idea to bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots and walking sticks; some of our trails have sections that will be more challenging, though easier options are usually available as well. Raingear is a good idea in case we encounter the wet stuff during the adventure. There is a reason Washington is called the “Evergreen State”, and the Hoh River Rainforest receives epic amounts of rainfall.
What's a Classic Curated Tour?
With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are hand-crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.
When planning Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination–the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.
Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see but touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.
Along the way, your guide amplifies the experience by sharing insights into the magic of that particular location.
Walks on this tour vary greatly in difficulty level, ranging from 1B (easy) to 4C (a bit challenging!), with most walks falling into the 2B/C range.
- In several cases, you will be able to choose between an easier and a harder option, so even if the walk rating for a particular walk may look too high for your comfort level, on most walks we can usually find a suitable alternative for you.
- On some days, we will not have time to do a full 10 km at one walk site due to the need to drive to our next location, or because of multiple walks in one day, but we will usually offer at least 8 km of walking each day and in some cases even more than 10 km if you’d like.
- In almost all cases, these will be guided walks, with your WAI guide taking you on a group walk experience. But there may also be times when you can walk freely on your own so long as you are using the provided walk directions and are aware of the right time and place to meet for departure.
- Walk stamps for most walks should be available along the way for those that wish to receive them; in some cases, we may be using the Online Start Box (OSB) to register and receive AVA credit for walks.
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
Elevation on Tour
Altitude is an occasional factor on this trip, but our hotels are all located at relatively low elevation, which means you are sleeping at a more manageable elevation. Two walks on the Mount Rainier pre-tour will take place at over 5,000 feet above sea level (Naches Peak Loop & Skyline Trail Loop at Paradise) while one walk on the Natural Wonders of Washington main tour will be over 5,000 feet above sea level (Hurricane Ridge). On all of these higher altitude hikes, less challenging options will be offered.
Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Because much of this Adventure is in small town Washington, a few of our properties are quality motels reflecting the spirit of our setting, which we think you’ll enjoy. Many, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are single-floor or have elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.
How is Airfare Arranged?
This tour starts and ends in the Seattle area. The most logical airport to use is SeaTac International Airport (SEA). An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, as well as important information about steps to take in the months prior your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.
WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provides air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.
Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).
As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape have caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.
Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure if there are fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI intends to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.
Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.
COVID-19 Policies and Procedures
The Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2021 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes daily, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers on tour of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.
Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].
COVID-19 Travel Waiver
During this age of COVID-19, WAI evaluates worldwide reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read our COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document before signing the COVID-19 Travel Waiver. Participation in this tour requires your signature on the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.
Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].
What Happens Next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. You will be able to make that payment online or over the phone as well. Any other payments necessary for optional services or one-off decisions can also be made this way.
An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.
About 10 weeks before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Around 2-3 two weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.
Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us for this outstanding Walking Adventure program through Wonders of Washington!