Seattle is much like any other cold-winter city…the minute the sun comes out and the temperatures rise, everyone goes outside to enjoy the weather. We were no different. This past weekend, when the temperature rose to the mid-60’s, we planned a weekend of sun-filled events.
9:00 am – We drove out to the Central Cascade Mountains, to North Bend, Washington, to hike a trail leading to Teneriffe Falls. These falls used to be called Kamikaze Falls and we soon understood why, but more on that later. You reach the trailhead for Teneriffe Falls at an unmarked school bus turnaround on SE Mount Si Road (just across from 480th Avenue). Word to the wise – get there early! We arrived at 9:30 am and it was by sheer luck (well luck and Chad’s marvelous parking skills) that we were able to park in the small lot/school bus turnaround area. (When we left, cars were parked far, far down Mt. Si Road).
Because of the small parking area, this hike is not crowded like it’s neighboring mountains Mt. Si and Little Si. The hike started as a gentle stroll along the unpaved Mount Teneriffe Road and we were the only ones on the road for some time.
After about one mile, we reached a junction – and were sure to take the path to the right. This path narrows and becomes the hiking trail which leads up the mountain to the falls. The great thing about this trail is it skirts the edge of the mountain, so we were constantly in view of the valley below and neighboring Mt. Si and Little Si. The views from this ridge are spectacular.
After another mile, we came to the sign marked “Teneriffe Falls”. We appreciated that some hiker held to the tradition of leaving his walking stick behind for others to use.
This begins a new, and I’m not gonna lie, somewhat sketchy trail. I say sketchy, because the trail becomes very, very rocky – in parts it was difficult to discern which was the trail and which were just rocks lining the hillside. (Hikers beware – you will need sturdy hiking boots for this trail and it is easy to turn an ankle, so you must think carefully about proper foot placement with each step.) Eventually, we reached the lower falls, which were pretty cool. It is here that the trail officially ends, because the Department of Natural Resources does not consider the remaining trail to be complete. However, we pushed on with other hikers, and we so glad we did.
The upper falls are spectacular. The water literally falls off the top of the mountain (perhaps like a kamikaze pilot plummeting to earth?)
Teneriffe Falls are our favorite falls we’ve seen so far in Washington.Round trip the hike is about 6 miles and has an elevation gain of 1420 feet.
12:30 pm – We finished the hike and drove in to North Bend to have lunch at the North Bend Bar & Grill.
2: 00 pm – After re-fueling, we still had half of a sunny day left to our Saturday, so we drove back to Seattle. The Olympic Mountains were in full view on our drive, so we decided to go to Golden Gardens Beach to fully enjoy the mountain views.
As expected, Golden Gardens was crowded (first nice day, remember). But that was ok. We found a parking spot and strolled along the waterfront taking in our views. It was windy and colder than the mountain valley we just came from, so we didn’t stay too long at Golden Gardens.
5:00 pm – Eventually we gathered supplies for a picnic and made our way to Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.
This is one of our favorite parks in Seattle because it offers spectacular views of Elliott Bay and the Sound, the Olympic Mountains, West Seattle across the way, and lots of spectacular outdoor sculpture art. The sculptures are from artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Alexander Calder, Tony Smith, and Ellsworth Kelly.
A gravel path takes viewers through short, easy switchbacks lined with art and leads down to the waterfront. Near the top of the hill, red chairs line the pathway so people can sit and take in the natural and man-made beauty surrounding them. We chose this spot for our picnic and enjoyed a glorious sunset.
10:00 am – We had planned on taking the ferry over to Vashon Island, however the ferry line was beyond-ridiculously long, so we scrapped that plan and instead drove over to Alki Beach in West Seattle.
12:00 pm – We had a great lunch with Chad’s brother, Kevyn, at Cactus and then walked along the promenade to the beach.
It was only 63 degrees out, but I have seriously never seen so many people at the beach!
The tide was super low, so lots of people were walking out on the sand bar.
2:00 pm – We rented kayaks from Alki Kayak Tours and kayaked back towards Alki Beach. We should note that kayaking from Alki is not for the amateur kayaker. The currents in the sound can be tricky to navigate – especially if you are used to kayaking in a lake. The staff at Alki Kayak Tours are diligent in asking about your kayaking skills before they send you out on the water. But once out, it is a great workout and the views are incredible.
We hit the mountains, beaches, and water on this glorious nice weekend and we had a fabulous time!
Important Travel Notes:
Directions To Teneriffe Falls: From I-5 take exit 32 in North Bend and turn left to go over the freeway. Then turn left again on SE North Bend Way. After .25 miles, turn right on SE Mt Si Road. Drive on this road for about 3.5 miles (go past the parking areas for Little Si and Mt. Si). The school bus turnaround will be on your left across from 480th Ave. If you visit this spot during a school week, be sure to park near the gate.
Required Credentials: Discovery Pass
Golden Gardens Park Hours: 6:00 am – 11:30 pm.
Olympic Sculpture Park Hours: The Sculpture Park opens 30 minutes prior to sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
Parking at Olympic Sculpture Park: We’ve always found street parking which is Pay to Park Monday – Saturday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. Or you can pay to park in the PACCAR Pavilion garage. The entrance to the parking garage is on the southeast corner of the park at Broad Street and Western Avenue. Open daily from 6 am–11 pm. No overnight parking allowed.
Alki Kayak Tours location: Alki Kayak Tours rental shack is located at the the Seacrest Boathouse, next to Alki Crab and Fish, at 1660 Harbor Avenue SW Seattle, WA 98126. They are conveniently located next to the West Seattle-Downtown King County Water Taxi dock at Seacrest Park. They offer kayak and SUP tours by reservation only. You can make a reservation by calling them at 206-953-0237.