Popular spring and summer hikes on the Plateau

Victor Falls is a popular destination for Plateau hikers. Image courtesy of the city of Bonney Lake.

It’s as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

Whether taking a simple stroll or tackling a strenuous hiking trail, there are abundant opportunities to enjoy life outdoors. Here’s a look at just a few local favorite destinations.

MOUNT PEAK

This is the iconic Enumclaw hike.

A promontory rising from the Plateau, it draws newbies and veterans daily, from sunup to sundown. There are Mount Peak diehards who seem to tackle the steep trails daily.

There are two approaches to the summit, each with their own appeal. The Cal Magnuson Trail winds up the north face and is all trail; the south side incorporates a gravel road for the first part of the trek. The south side also features a large parking lot constructed by King County and opened this spring.

This is no Sunday stroll, as visitors — those who reach the summit — will gain 1,000 feet of elevation in one mile. The south side might be a bit gentler, but it’s still strenuous.

Aside from the trees and interesting formations of columnar basalt, there’s a bonus at the top, particularly for those with an interest in local history. Until the early 1970s a lookout tower sat at the top, home to those who kept watch for forest fires. Remnants of the lookout station are still in place. And, it’s harder to spot, but the peak also was used by civilian “spotters” who scanned the skies for enemy aircraft during World War II.

Don’t be confused if looking for the attraction on a map. It’s also called Mount Pete and Pinnacle Peak. But, if you’re asking a local, it’s Mount Peak.

NOLTE STATE PARK

This is mighty appealing to those seeking a relaxed, easy-to-walk experience.

The 117-acre park, not too many miles from Enumclaw on Veazie-Cumberland Road, is home to the small-but-gorgeous Deep Lake. The lake is ringed by a flat, very passable trail that measures just a bit more than a mile.

Looking for a down side? Nolte is a state park, meaning there’s an admission fee, either a one-time payment or an annual state parks pass.

MOWICH LAKE

From this starting point in Mount Rainier National Park there are opportunities for all, from experienced hikers to novice day-trippers. Here are a couple of options:

• Spray Park: a round trip is six miles, the elevation gain is about 1,300 feet and most will spend about four hours on the trail. Highlights are fields of wildflowers and a view of Spray Falls.

• Tolmie Peak: the trek is more than six miles the elevation gain is a little more than 1,000 feet and part of the trail features a fairly strenuous uphill pull. Highlights include Lake Eunice and the Tolmie Peak lookout.

Here’s something to remember: if you’re heading into the national park, a permit is required. Among the options are an annual pass to Mount Rainier National Park for $50; a single-vehicle pass, good for seven days, is $25. There’s no additional cost for a day hike, but there are fees for overnighters.

FOOTHILLS TRAIL

An easy walk with kids or pets is fairly close to anyone on the Plateau or in the Valley.

The Foothills Trail has been built as finances allow and now features a 15-mile stretch between South Prairie and the Meeker area near Puyallup. There also is a two-mile section in Buckley. Work is currently under way to establish “pinpile” bridges in an area just south of Buckley that will make the trail accessible all year, replacing parts of the trail that annually turned to mud. Also, a bridge between Buckley and South Prairie that was damaged by a falling tree is due for repair.

Boosters envision a trail that ultimately will be 28 miles long. That would include a long-dreamed-about bridge over the White River that connects the trail to an established trail in Enumclaw. A funding request has been well received, but nothing is certain until the state legislature makes its final budget authorizations.

VICTOR FALLS PARK

While the trail system isn’t the most complex in the area, the payoff is terrific – a clear view of the 70-foot waterfall that can be heard long before it’s seen.

It’s easy to get to, on Rhodes Lake Road on Bonney Lake’s south side, and there’s easy parking once you have arrived.

For many years there was no access to view the falls, as the property was in private hands. It was purchased by the city in 2013.

BLACK DIAMOND OPEN SPACE

Managed by the King County park system, this is actually three separate parcels totaling 1,240 acres.

The “north unit” is the most popular among hikers with trails criss-crossing the property. The area includes a lake, a creek, wetlands and abundant trees.

Easy to access, it sits north of Black Diamond on both sides of state Route 169.