Unique Outdoor Experiences in the Cascade Foothills

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or looking for a family-friendly outing, the Gateway to the Cascades has an adventure waiting.
Washington State Vacation
Washington State Vacation

Thirty minutes east of Seattle, nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, resides the historic town of Issaquah. Once known for the hops grown in its fertile valley, the area is now a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking convenient and diverse recreational opportunities. From standup paddle-boarding on Lake Sammamish to paragliding from Poo Poo Point, there’s something for everyone looking to get outside.

Sometimes overshadowed by its larger brother Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish can be a quieter alternative to beat the heat in the summertime. With over 512 acres for day use and 6,858 feet of waterfront, Lake Sammamish State Park is the perfect place to spread out a picnic blanket, throw a Frisbee around a grassy field, or take a dip in one of its designated swimming areas. If you’re feeling bolder, try renting a kayak or a standup paddle-board from Issaquah Paddle Sports.

For the truly adventurous willing to step off an 1,800-foot precipice, Tiger Mountain’s Poo Poo Point presents an experience as unique as its name. As wind is funneled down the tight valley between Tiger and Squak Mountains, it creates unusual drafts that flow upwards over the bald Poo Poo Point, making it the perfect launching pad for paragliders. Seattle Paragliding offers tandem flights that include instruction, equipment, and everything you need to soar over the beautiful valley.

If you are more comfortable with your feet firmly on the ground, Tiger Mountain also provides numerous hikes suitable for every age and ability. Whether you prefer meandering trails through coniferous forests with waist-high sword ferns and towering cedar trees or arduous switch backs with the promise of dazzling views, Tiger Mountain has you covered. Pick from a variety of Tiger Mountain hikes here.

The area also offers multiple educational opportunities. The Cougar Mountain Zoo is an outstanding destination to learn about wildlife conservation and to see tigers, macaws, llamas, and many other fascinating animals. The Issaquah Salmon hatchery is one the state’s most popular hatcheries. Late August through mid-October is the best time to visit as you can watch hundreds of mature salmon complete their journey home from the Pacific Ocean. Issaquah’s Salmon Days celebrates the salmons’ return over the first weekend of October every year. Listen to live music, browse hundreds of booths showcasing products made by local artisans, or enjoy fresh-baked salmon throughout this award-winning festival.

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