Natural Wonders of Washington 2020

Olympic Peninsula & the Puget Sound

September 16-23, 2020 • 8 Days • $2390

A captivating, brand-new Walking Adventure featuring Olympic National Park, four Washington state parks, beautiful Pacific beaches, emerald rainforests, and the gorgeous Puget Sound!

Mt. Rainier Pre-Tour

Exploring Washington’s highest peak

September 13-16, 2020 • 4 Days • $1185

A diverse set of walks amongst alpine lakes, dazzling mountain views, massive old growth rainforest, amidst Mount Rainier National Park and along glacial rivers and waterfalls.

Reserve your spot with a refundable $100 Registration deposit.

Wonders of Washington State

Guide Scott Isom offers a quick intro to our newest tour series – our Close to Home Adventures – and a brief overview of our NEW Natural Wonders of Washington tour.

Welcome to the inaugural tour of a brand-new series we are calling “Close-to-Home”. 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.

This first tour in the series is dedicated to exploring Natural Wonders of Washington, and is especially well-suited for those who live in the Pacific Northwest. But in truth, anyone who is curious about the scenic and historic wonders of our 42nd state will find this tour to be a diverse and delightful experience, requiring for many of you a relatively short flight to Kent, WA, our start/finish point.

The Adventure begins with a 4-day pre-tour to one of our country’s premier national parks, Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington state and an absolutely glorious place to hike. Following this loop pre-tour, the main tour features a clockwise circuit that 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.

This initial Close-to-Home Adventure promises to be a visual feast and an excellent way to finally get back on the trail after the COVID-19 pandemic. Our bus and hotel partners along the way are practicing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols and other safety measures to ensure that you have a delightful and worry-free experience. WAI guides will also be following beefed up hygiene and wellness protocols to foster both good health and good spirits as we explore this magical state together!

Unique Aspects of this Tour

Traveling in only one state (Washington) simplifies the logistics of our tour. In addition, the number of participants on this tour is limited to 24 walkers to enhance adequate distancing on the bus.

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.

Mt. Rainier Pre-Tour

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Hotel to airport shuttle on first/last day
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 2 meals: 2 breakfasts as denoted (B)
  • 4 walks
  • Fees for walking credit for 3 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 $220. We provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Mt. Rainier National Park
  • Naches Peak
  • Grove of the Patriarchs
  • Box Canyon
  • Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
  • Skyline Trail
  • Narada Falls
  • Orting Valley
  • More fun stops than we can list!

Natural Wonders of Washington

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Hotel to airport shuttle on first/last day
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 6 meals: 6 breakfasts as denoted (B)
  • 11 walks
  • Fees for walking credit for at least 5 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 $480. We provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits to:

  • 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!

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

We’ll take up to 24 travelers on this NEW ‘Close to Home’ tour.

Hotels

Superior Tourist Class or better hotel accommodations

Meals

2 breakfasts included on the pre-tour; 6 breakfasts included on the main tour

Airfare

Travelers fly into and out of Seattle’s SeaTac International Airport (airport code SEA). Both the pre-tour and the main tour start and finish at the same hotel in Kent, WA. If you choose to drive to the tour start point, this hotel offers complimentary parking for the duration of our adventure.

Transportation

Included.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guide

Scott Isom

Scott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. Scott has led tours on all 7 continents and is one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners. Scott has extensive familiarity with the hiking trails and history of Washington State, having hiked and explored throughout his home state for years, and he looks forward to sharing the hidden beauty and natural wonders of Washington State with you!

Itinerary

Mt Rainier Pre-tour

Click on each day to reveal more details. B refers Breakfasts included.

Day 1-Sep 13: 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-Sep 14: Kent – Packwood, WA (B)

Naches Peak Loop Hike – 5 km, 3C
Grove of the Patriarchs Hike – 3 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 along the famous Pacific Crest Trail as we hike the Naches Peak Loop (5,000+ FASL); alpine lakes and jaw-dropping vistas are abundant! Following this eye-popping experience, we descend to the southeast corner of the national park. A splendid walk here along the Ohanepecosh 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-Sep 15: Packwood – Puyallup, WA

Skyline Trail Loop at Paradise – 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 4-Sep 16: Puyallup – Kent, WA (B)

Orting Valley Two Rivers Walk – 12 km, 1C

With the USA’s largest alpine glacial system outside of Alaska, Mount Rainier is the source of several beautiful rivers, most of which flow into the Puget Sound. Two of those wondrous waterways, the Puyallup and Carbon Rivers, wind their way through the historic little town of Orting, a former railroad stop on the timber and coal mining routes in the late 1800s. Today’s relatively flat walk along a local levee system shows off these two braided rivers and yields some outstanding views of Rainier when the mountain isn’t playing shy behind the clouds. We wrap up an around-the-mountain pre-tour at our starting hotel in the Kent Valley, connecting with our walking friends arriving for the Natural Wonders of Washington Adventure.

Natural Wonders of Washington

Click on each day to reveal more details. B refers Breakfasts included.

Day 1-Sep 16: 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 stretch your legs before our Welcome Orientation this evening at the hotel.

Day 2-Sep 17: Kent – Olympia, WA (B)

Point Defiance Walk (Tacoma) – 5 km, 2B
Nisqually Wildlife Refuge Walk – 7 km, 1B

Beginning our clockwise loop, 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 just down the road in Olympia, where we spend the night in Washington’s capital city.

Day 3-Sep 18: Olympia – Ocean Shores, WA (B)

Griffiths-Priday State Park Walk – 6 km, 1C
Damon Point Ocean Shores Walk – 6 km, 1C

Making our way west this morning, our travels take us through the historic old logging and fishing town of Aberdeen and alongside Grays Harbor on our path toward the Pacific Ocean. At Griffiths-Priday State Park, a typically uncrowded and spacious expanse of grass-covered dunes, a serene shoreline awaits our exploration.  This afternoon, we savor a beach walk along the southeastern tip of a quiet peninsula that juts into Grays Harbor. This is another place to spot birds, and even the occasional deer. This evening’s hotel is also within close walking distance of ocean beaches where further strolls await, or perhaps a memorable sunset!

Day 4-Sep 19: Ocean Shores - Forks, WA (B)

Hoh River Rainforest Walk (Olympic National Park) – 10 km, 2B

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. Due to its carefully preserved ancient ecosystem, the Hoh Rain Forest is 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. The fun continues in the afternoon amidst stunning sea stacks and driftwood at Ruby Beach, a wonderful place to relax or enjoy a Pacific stroll before we retire for the evening in the tiny town of Forks.

Day 5-Sep 20: Forks - Sequim, WA

Sol Duc Falls Walk (Olympic National Park) – 3 km, 2B
Hurricane Ridge Walk (Olympic National Park) – 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 6-Sep 21: Sequim – Oak Harbor, WA (B)

Fort Worden State Park Walk – 5 km, 2C
Fort Casey Walk – 3 km, 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. In the afternoon, 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 7-Sep 22: Oak Harbor - Kent, WA (B)

Deception Pass State Park Walk – 8 km, 2C
Snoqualmie Falls Walk – 3 km, 2B

Deception Pass State Park is considered one of the better walking destinations in the Pacific Northwest and serves as our first activity of the day. Deception Pass offers outstanding highlights including lush forests, rocky beaches, grassy dunes, mountain views, and a dramatic bridge, just to name a few.  Following the walk and lunch in nearby Burlington, we continue south for one more outstanding 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 8-Sep 23: 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 late 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!

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a refundable $100 deposit for the tour. Our group size for this particular adventure will be no more than 24 travelers.

Modified Payment Terms

Cancellations received in writing by July 31, 2020 will receive a full refund. The final payment is due August 3, 2020 and is nonrefundable. No refunds will be made on any unused or cancelled services once the tour has commenced.

Please view our updated General Tour Conditions for more details on our policies and cancellation terms.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

No Traveler Discounts

No traveler rewards or discounts are available for this tour.

Walk Ratings

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 guided 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 at 1.800.779.0353.

We are using the America’s Walking Club 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:

Incline

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing.
3. Some significant hills or stair climbing.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing.
5. Many steep hills.

Terrain

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.

Walk Difficulty

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.

How High Are We Going?

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.

How Is Airfare Arranged?

The official start and finish point for both the Mount Rainier Pre-tour and the Wonderful Washington State Adventure is our hotel in Kent near Seattle’s SeaTac International Airport (airport code SEA).  If you choose to drive to the tour start point, our starting and finishing hotel offers complimentary parking for the duration of our adventure. In addition, our starting and finishing hotel also offers complimentary shuttles to and from the airport.  If you plan to fly into Washington, we recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

Laura Pfahler: 503-434-6401 or [email protected]

Travel Insurance

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:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • 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 has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

This COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our fall 2020 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 800.779.0353 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 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Tour Cancellations

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel any tour departure with fewer than 15 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. As a condition of booking services, deposits WAI makes to suppliers become non-refundable as we get closer to our date of departure. There may be cases where COVID-19 related circumstances force us to cancel the tour. Due to suppliers’ non-refundable policies, WAI cannot guarantee a 100% refund under these circumstances. 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.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after, 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. Final payment for the program is due August 3, 2020, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point. Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final 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.