Deer Harbor Marina - Orcas Island
Recommended by: Ken McRae, Senior Structural Technician
Why I love it: Orcas Island is arguably the most scenic large island in the San Juans and Deer Harbor is the most scenic marina on Orcas Island. Located on the Southwest tip of Orcas, Deer Harbor is relaxed and out of the way, but with a quick boat ride, anything in the San Juans is within reach. When we had our little 24-ft boat, my family loved to use Deer Harbor as a base and cruise around nearby San Juan Island. We would spend the day walking around Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor, then cruise out to Haro Strait to do some whale watching. Other days, we would just stay on the docks where the kids would play with shrimp nets or their inflatable kayaks, then splash around in the nearby pool.
Pro Tip: There are several islands in the Puget Sound that are “water access only” Washington State Parks – so make sure to do your research ahead of time! Jones Island at the mouth of Deer Harbor is one of my favorites. Take an afternoon and go on a very scenic and remote hike!
Lake Wilderness Park, Maple Valley
Recommended by: Kat Gao, Structural Staff Engineer
Why I love it: The lake is pretty easy to get to from Seattle and is a nice spot for fishing (especially for beginners like us!). Mt. Rainier is visible from the lodge on a clear day – making for a scenic backdrop to a relaxing day by the lake. There are also plenty of nice walking trails.
Pro Tip: To grab a decent fishing spot, make sure you get there early!
Lake Washington Seattle Street Ends
Recommended by: Katlyn Christenson, Civil Engineer
Why I love it: I love exploring the beaches at different Seattle street ends because they have a lot less people than the more well-known Seattle beach parks. As someone who likes to swim throughout the year, it’s nice to have some “sure thing” beaches in the summer that have consistent parking. Many of the beaches along Lake Washington have gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascades, as well as some benches or Adirondack chairs to sit and enjoy the calm water views. If you are up for a swim, Lake Washington is also much warmer than the Sound in the summer – in August/September it’s about the same temperature as your local pool!
Pro Tip: Check out the City of Seattle Street End GIS map for some quaint/more private beaches in the city. Street Ends are portions of the public right-of-way that have been designated as public beaches. If you live in the city, you may be surprised to find a cute little beach right in your neighborhood.
Cutthroat Pass, North Cascades
Recommended by: Eric Lentz, Structural Project Manager
Why I love it: I love jumping into high mountain lakes. Even though the water is so cold it takes your breath away, it’s beyond refreshing. Cutthroat Lake is smooth and clear with picturesque North Cascades all around. Getting there is super quick and easy – only a 3.8-mile roundtrip hike! You can turn it into a longer hike by going over Cutthroat pass (or even farther) if you wanted. Once you’re there, the giant granite boulders make for great spots to climb, eat lunch on, or jump into the lake from. You can even fish for cutthroat if you wanted. I’d also recommend mountain biking from Rainy Pass down past the lake – prime single-track!
Pro Tip: To avoid crowds, I’d recommend heading there on weekdays, early in the morning, or later at night. And to check out some awesome fall tamarack colors, I’d suggest going in the shoulder seasons. Probably my most important tip: whenever I go hiking, I always like to bring a few splurge or luxury food items. (Granola bars are for amateurs!) You haven’t lived until you pack in some fried chicken with dipping sauces – trust me, it will change your life.