Summer has certainly arrived this week in the Tri-Cities. With temperatures soaring above 100F, it’s time to explore ways to escape the heat. We all want to get out there and enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. What better time than now to get out there and explore? There are so many exciting attractions around the Pacific Northwest. Most locations are accessible via car from the Tri-Cities in only as matter of a few hours.
There are numerous road trips to be had within 100 miles of the Tri-Cities. One of the best would have to be a visit to Mt. Hood, Oregon. This recreation area has so much to offer and takes about 2.5 hours to reach. The 11,000’ snow-covered volcanic peak is visible from eastern Oregon.
Upon arrival, you can enjoy the famous Timberline Lodge that sits at 6,000’. This mammoth structure was used in the filming of The Shining (1980). It is an impressive building where you can have a dinner, drinks, or just appreciate the building and the views. There are rooms for rent at the lodge, though they can be rather pricey. There are gorgeous hikes with trailheads branching off of the highway. These are worth the stop so that you and your family can relax before returning home.
One of my personal favorites among these is the hike to Mirror Lake. It’s a trek of 1.9 miles through completely shaded paths and an elevation gain of about 1,500’. You will be rewarded with one of the best views of Mt. Hood, mirrored in the alpine lake once you reach the trail’s end. Afterwards descending from a hike, stop at the famous Huckleberry Inn to taste the delights of shakes, pancakes, jellies…anything and everything Huckleberry.
If you want to spend the night, there are many accommodations, but the Best Western is an excellent choice and the Mt. Hood Brewery, offering craft beers and tasty eats, shares a parking lot. You can make this a day trip, or you can spend the weekend and enjoy riding an alpine slide, go-carts, and outdoor park for the kids. There are some COVID restrictions in place, but a quick phone call will inform you how to purchase tickets for the activities of interest.
Badger Mountain Night-Hike
If you’re unable to get out of town, but still want to get outside, why not hike Badger Mountain at night? The temperatures cool to a level of comfort once the sun sets. At 525 Queensgate Dr. in Richland, you’ll find a parking lot and on the south side of the lush park, the trailhead. The trail is both kid and dog friendly. The trails up on a dark night are well-maintained. Using headlamps would be best, but flashlights would also work. You’ll hike about two miles to the top and be rewarded with views of twinkling lights from residential areas directly below to the northern Hanford site and the bridges spanning the Columbia that looks like a dark snake weaving through the lights. Remember to take water because even though it’s cooler at night and the view will offer a new experience, you’ll need to hydrate!
Kayaking the Columbia
Another fun in the sun idea is to rent paddle boards or kayaks near the park at Howard Amon in Richland. Greenies has rentals and so does a small rental company, Columbia Kayak Adventures. Both companies will outfit you with a lifejacket and all necessities to get to the water and enjoy your time in the Columbia. If you want to paddleboard, the best place is at Leslie Groves park in the waters between the volleyball courts and the island. The water is shallow and slower moving, with a sandy beach to start and stop. If kayaking will be your choice, the shallows to the south of Howard Amon and the bridge are fun to explore for abundant wildlife. The employees at these two rental shops will offer excellent advice for your level of experience and tell you where to explore to enjoy your cooling time on the water experience.
Summer days are here! Get out and enjoy the beauty of our immediate surroundings or take a trip to the mountains. The Tri-Cities has it all—beautiful hikes on local mountains, a family friendly river for all water related sports, and unparalleled hiking experiences in forested mountains just a couple of hours from home. Get out there and have some adventures!