Each moment seems better than the last. Seeing a nesting bald eagle from the deck of your ferry. Soaking up the montage of cultures—from First Nations to British—in vibrant Victoria. Following Canyon Creek through an Eden of sword ferns, mosses and old-growth Douglas fir. Then arriving at magnificent Sol Duc Falls. Hiking mile-high Hurricane Ridge and seeing Mount Olympus in one direction, Mount Rainier and Seattle in another. Most vacations have that one defining moment you remember forever. This trip has those incredible moments daily.
Walking & Hiking Options:
Mountain Lake Route: 4 Miles* (100’ elevation gain)
South End Campground Route: 6.5 Miles (200’)
Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! After meeting we board the ferry to Orcas Island, the largest and most mountainous of the San Juan archipelago, known for its rocky shores and dense forests. We then shuttle to Moran State Park, a nature lover’s paradise of 5,000 wooded acres, 5 freshwater lakes, 30 miles of hiking trails, 4 waterfalls and Mount Constitution, the San Juans’ highest peak at 2,400 feet. As you walk along sparkling Mountain Lake, the park’s largest, take a moment to relax at one of the many inlets and dip your toes in the cool trout-stocked water. Feel like you’ve just gotten started? Head to the South End campground, located on the shore of Cascade Lake, for a few extra miles. After completing the hike, jump in the shuttle for the 20-minute drive to the Outlook Inn, a historic country hotel located in the charming town of Eastsound. Settle into your room before we gather to celebrate our arrival on the island with a wine reception, followed by dinner at the New Leaf Café, which specializes in dishes created from organic produce and fresh seafood.
Walking & Hiking Options:
Mount Constitution Route: 4.5 Miles* (2,100’ elevation gain)
Mount Constitution & Mountain Lake Route: 8.2 Miles
(2,100’ elevation gain; 1,500’ elevation loss)
After breakfast we take a short drive to the Mount Constitution trailhead. Follow an uphill trail through a fragrant forest of cedar and fir trees as you head for the summit. On a clear day, your efforts are amply rewarded at the top with breathtaking panoramic views of the San Juan archipelago, Canada’s coastal mountains and snow-covered Mount Baker. Soak in the scenery (and rest your muscles!), then hit the trail again, hiking down steep switchbacks to beautiful Twin Lakes. Find a nice spot to enjoy lunch before descending to Mountain Lake.
This afternoon we take the Orcas ferry to the picturesque town of Friday Harbor. Tonight we dine at the Friday Harbor House, our home for the night, and afterward you have time to further explore this charming seaside town. You’ll feel you’ve stepped back in time as you stroll through the pedestrian-friendly streets lined with turn-of-the-century architecture, watching the ships come and go in the bustling harbor.
Walking & Hiking Options:
Victoria Waterfront Trail Route: 3–5 Miles (minimal elevation gain)
Mount Work Summit Route: 5 Miles* (1,100’)
We start the day with a lovely breakfast at the hotel, then catch the ferry to the Canadian port of Sidney where we fuel up with a hearty lunch at a local sustainable farm to prepare for our afternoon hike up Mount Work—and they don’t call it that for nothing! Hike through lush forests to the summit and take in spectacular views of Mount Baker on the way up and the Olympics on the way down. The vistas alone are worth the journey! If you’d prefer to skip the hike, you can shuttle directly to our hotel, the luxurious oceanfront Brentwood Bay Resort. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with a book, a dip in the pool or a trip to the hotel’s celebrated spa. You can also shuttle to Victoria to walk along their waterfront trail or head to afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, where you’ll feel like royalty as you savor delicious sandwiches, pastries and scones in the restored Tea Lobby. (Afternoon tea is not included in the trip price. Reservations are required and should be made for after 2:30 p.m.)
Butchart Gardens Walk 2 Hours
Marymere Falls Route 1.5 Miles (100’ elevation gain)
This morning we shuttle to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens—55 acres of horticultural splendor! The gardens first bloomed under the loving care of
Jennie Butchart, who in 1904 began gardening on a quarry site abandoned by her husband, a pioneer in cement manufacturing. Jennie poured her heart into
transforming the desolate area into a vibrant wonderland of flowers and plants. In the 100 years since, visitors have flocked here to marvel at the exquisite gardens, still cared for by the Butchart family. Following our garden walk we shuttle to Victoria, where you’ll have time to explore. Take a self-guided historical walk through the old part of the city, ending in Chinatown. Or opt to take a water taxi around the Inner Harbor before enjoying lunch on your own in town. If you missed the chance yesterday, you can head to the Fairmont for afternoon tea (please keep in mind that we must be in line for the ferry at 2:30 p.m.).
This afternoon we take in striking views of the Olympic Mountains during a ferry ride across the swift-moving Juan de Fuca Strait to the Olympic Peninsula. Then it’s a short drive to our national park lodge, set among giant hemlock and fir trees on the shore of Lake Crescent, in the shadow of Mount Storm King. After arriving you can set out on a hike to Marymere Falls. The trail, marked with crown ferns, trilliums, hemlocks, cedars and firs, is
a tranquil introduction to our surroundings. We dine at the lodge before retreating to our historic rustic cottages.
Walking & Hiking Options:
Sol Duc Falls & Lover’s Lane Route: 3.8 Miles (100’ elevation
gain) or Sol Duc Falls & Deer Lake Route: 7.4 Miles* (1,700’)
The Olympic Loop: 9.6 Miles (1,800’)
Get ready to explore the Sol Duc River Valley in Olympic National Park today. With more than 600 miles of trails, the park is home to the largest remaining undisturbed old-growth and temperate rain forests in the Pacific Northwest. Drenched in more than 12 feet of rain a year (be sure to have your rain gear handy!), Western hemlocks, Douglas firs and Sitka spruce trees flourish, while ferns and moss cloak the trees and forest floor— even the air seems green here. En route to Sol Duc Falls, one of the park’s largest and most scenic waterfalls, pass through a forest of wooded giants and cross the river on a bridge over the falls. Continuing on Lover’s Lane Trail, make your way through the woods and fern glades, crossing footbridges made from ancient fallen logs.
If you’re up for a challenge, tackle the rocky trail up to Deer Lake instead, which rises steadily to 1,700 feet. Aptly named, the alpine lake is the summer home of black-tailed deer and the occasional black bear. After our hike, head back to the lodge and relax. Tonight we gather to toast to our week together before sitting down to a festive farewell dinner.
We spend our last day together hiking one of the most impressive locations in Olympic National Park— Hurricane Ridge. Most of our route, which runs along the upper spine of the Elwha Ridge to Hurricane Hill, winds through open meadows scattered with subalpine conifers. In early summer these meadows are ablaze with colorful wildflowers, including lupine, paintbrush, columbine and mountain asters. From the hilltop (if the coast is clear), we’re treated to sweeping views of the Olympic Range, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island—our whole trip is visible from this one lookout point. After enjoying lunch, we shuttle to Bainbridge Island and hop on a ferry bound for Seattle.
There’s no finer way to approach the city than by watching the skyline come into view with Mount Rainier in the background.
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