A Kaleidoscope of Colors: Fall Foliage in Washington
As fall arrives in the Pacific Northwest, the scenery makes a swift departure from the greenery of summer. Shades of yellow, burnt orange, and scarlet blend with hints of purple in a beautiful spectrum of colors that extends from the mountain ranges to the parks of Seattle.
At The Woodmark, the changing trees reflect off the serene waters of Lake Washington, with many taking on fall colors as early as mid-September and the best time to see the foliage being in early October (try Columbus Day weekend).
Maples, Pacific Dogwoods, and Red Alders take on warm tones in Seattle, while Kirkland is known for Black Hawthorns and Oregon Ash trees, among many others. There are wonderful trails near the hotel, which Guest Services Supervisor Katie Focher can direct you to, including the walking path on the lake’s shore and the path that leads from the hotel to downtown Kirkland.
Nearby, the fall foliage is thriving in the towns of Woodinville—make sure to stay for a wine tasting—and Issaquah, which has a trail system going through town and beneath a canopy of trees along the creek. And in Seattle, the Washington Park Arboretum offers 230 acres blanketed with Oaks, Magnolias, Birches, Poplars, and other beautiful trees.
But the best way to see the fall scenery, by far, is hiking. And Katie has some wonderful insight for family-friendly (and pet-friendly) destinations close to The Woodmark.
Rattlesnake Ridge is a beautiful mountain offering a forested trail dotted with mossy boulders. The path leads to Rattlesnake Ledge, an exposed rock that offers clear views of the Cedar Ridge Watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Chester Morse Lake. “It’s incredibly gorgeous,” says Katie. “When you get up to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge, pack a lunch and stay up there for an hour or so and soak up the scenery.”
Best View: Upper Ledge, located about 0.5 miles above Rattlesnake Ledge, offers more sweeping views to the northwest and is generally less crowded.
Difficulty: Medium, 4 miles roundtrip
The path to Little Si tends to attract families with children and beginner hikers. A sharp incline at the beginning of the trail quickly flattens out into woodlands and boulder fields, and the hike ends with a short push to the top. “Little Si, I would say, is the most scenic,” says Katie. “You’re walking in the woods, seeing all of the moss and the rocks and the trees.”
Best View: The summit of Little Si affords panoramic views of the valley and the surrounding peaks, Mount Si and Mount Washington.
Difficulty: Easy, 4.7 miles roundtrip
More formally known as Mount Si, Big Si is a strenuous hike with a spectacular reward. The trail begins with steep switchbacks, then levels out into Snag Flat where hikers can walk among enormous ancient trees. A final climb through a much younger forest reveals the slope at the top with scenic views of Mount Rainier in the distance. “The hike is a bit steep but still family-friendly,” says Katie. “The paths are wide enough for everyone.”
Best View: The end of the trail is a wonderful place for a picnic and incredible fall scenery, but further exploration will expose another vantage point. Head up the stone steps near the slope and through a stretch of forest to reach the overlook for Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle, and the Olympics.
Difficulty: Challenging, 8 miles roundtrip
Poo Poo Point
A summit of West Tiger Mountain, Poo Poo Point was named for the steam whistles that used to sound nearby in logging days. The trail is marked by rocky slopes, vibrant deciduous trees, and the gentle creeks of Many Creeks Valley. At the point, hikers will find a picnic area and a small knoll topped with a windsock.
Best View: With the right wind, hikers can see paragliders taking flight from the point. But Katie also enjoys a second overlook farther up: “You can see Issaquah, Sammamish, Lake Sammamish, and Lake Washington. It will be incredible in the fall with the leaves changing.”
Difficulty: Challenging, 7.2 miles roundtrip (or 3.8 miles roundtrip on the more direct Chirico Trail)
The winding path to Annette Lake is one of the most beautiful in the region, flecked with waterfalls, delicate wildflowers, and glimpses of nearby mountains. The trail begins in an evergreen forest of Fir, Hemlock, and Cedar, and continues past the first falls, through level forests and rolling slopes, and finally to the north shore of the alpine lake. “It’s intense and then flattens out, intense and then flattens out,” says Katie.
Best View: From the lake’s edge, hikers (and campers) can see Abiel Peak to the southwest, Silver Peak to the east, and a beautiful waterfall tumbling into the lake.
Difficulty: Challenging, 7.5 miles roundtrip
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After you have taken in Washington’s seasonal foliage, stay for some of the spectacular fall events at The Woodmark. We offer a game day shuttle across the lake for every University of Washington home football game and also host the Howl at the Moon Mutt Mixer, a costumed party for dogs and their owners, in late October.